Human Invention Anticipated by Nature
By John George Wood
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 2009
Online Publication Date:August 2010
Original Publication Year:1877
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511692932.024
Subjects: Philosophy of Religion
THE WATER TELESCOPE
EVERY one who has watched the movements of the various creatures which live below the surface of the water is aware how entirely dependent he is on the unruffled character of that surface. No matter how clear the water may be, the least ruffling of the surface will effectually shut out all sight:—
“But if a stone the gentle sea divide,
Swift rippling circles rush on every side,
And glimmering fragments of a broken sun,
Banks, trees, and skies in thick disorder run.”
And there is an end of the observations. If, however, the eyes can penetrate below the surface, the ruffling is of little consequence, so long as the water is clear. Consequently, whenever the top of the bank is sufficiently near the water, it is possible to continue the observations by lying down, and immersing the head above the eyes. This plan, however, is not a very comfortable one, although I have often followed it on a windy day when the surface was too ruffled to permit of vision in any other way.
Still, there is an instrument by which it is possible to counteract the ruffle of the surface, and to see objects with tolerable plainness. This is called the Water Telescope, and it is of very simple construction. Like the ordinary telescope, it consists of a tube, but, instead of the convex and concave lenses of that instrument, it has only a single glass at one end, and that glass is perfectly plane.