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Quartz: a Bull’s Eye on Optical Activity.
Skalwold, Elise Ann and William Akers Bassett. (2015) 16 pages. ISBN 978-0-939950-00-3
Abstract: It might be overstating a bit to say that if one could understand all there is to know about quartz, then everything else in the universe would make sense. Without doubt, this mineral has profoundly impacted many sciences and technologies which we rely upon today. At the very least, quartz provides one with a host of mental gymnastics and a seemingly endless variety of puzzles to ponder. Not least among its fascinating properties is that of optical activity, its manifestation of which results in the special optical figure affectionately known as the “bull’s eye.” In the authors’ article on causation of blue color in minerals, mention is made of the quartz monochromator, an obscure instrument which makes use of optical activity in a very elegant way (Skalwold and Bassett 2016). In hopes of giving readers insights and appreciation for this ingenious device and for quartz itself, the following is an exploration into the nature of the chromatic phenomenon which plays out within this proverbial black box.
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