Dartmouth will host the “Pressure of Light Symposium” October 5 and 6, celebrating the designation of Wilder Physical Laboratory, where the first accurate measurements of the radiation pressure of light took place, as an American Physical Society Historic Site.
“The Nichols-Hull pressure of light experiment of 1900 to 1903 is regarded as one of the most significant experiments of American physics of all time,” says Sam Werner ’59, Thayer ’61, a member of the physics and astronomy Alumni Advisory Board.
From 1900 to 1903, Dartmouth professors Ernest Fox Nichols and Gordon Ferrie Hull conducted the first precise measurements of the radiation pressure of light on a macroscopic body at Wilder Laboratory. While scientists had theorized that light might create a pressure, this was the first time that pressure had been accurately measured. The Nichols-Hull experiment is seen as a landmark discovery in radiative forces research, and continues to be influential.
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