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Full text of "Scientific Papers - Vi"

548    PROPAGATION OF SOUND AND LIGHT IN AN IRREGULAR ATMOSPHERE    [431
It is true, of course, that the question is not exhausted by a consideration of rays, and that we must remember the immense disproportion of wavelengths, greatly affecting all phenomena of diffraction. A twinkling star, as seen with the naked eye, may disappear momentarily, which means that then little or no light from it falls upon the eye. When a telescope is employed the twinkling is very much reduced, showing that the effects are entirely different at points so near together as the parts of an object-glass. In the case of sound, such sensitiveness to position is not to be expected, and the reproduction of similar phenomena would require the linear scale of the atmospheric irregularities to be very much enlarged. as well as upon temperature. In the atmosphere there is a variation of pressure with elevation, but this is scarcely material for our present purpose. And the kind of irregular local variations which can easily occur in temperature are excluded in respect of pressure by the mechanical conditions, at least in the absence of strong winds, not here regarded. The question is thus reduced to refractions consequent upon temperature variations.