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Full text of "Scientific Papers - Vi"

588                                     ON  THE  OPTICAL  CHARACTER                                    [438
of 'surface-colour' hitherto observed." But perhaps this objection should not be very much insisted on in our ignorance of nature's operations and with regard to the known existence of powerful dyes, e.g. in feathers. It is rather the rapid loss of purity with obliquity in surface-colour which appears significant.
If a dye capable of surface-reflexion is present, there are still alternatives open. The pure or nearly pure dye may be on the outside so as to be in contact with air, or it may be overlaid by a colourless skin of horny material (chitin) in optical contact with it. The former case would be the more favourable for vivid and variable colour, but then one would expect to be able to remove the dye by solvents. So far as I am aware this has not been done, and my own trials with various solvents upon the wing-cases of beetles have not succeeded. The most satisfactory demonstration of the surface-colour theory would indeed be the extraction of the dye and its exhibition as a thin layer spread upon glass.
If, on the other hand, the dye is imprisoned within a layer of colourless chitin, the range of obliquities available in ordinary observation would be restricted and the difficulty of accounting for the variety of nearly saturated hues actually seen would be increased, more especially when we remember the dilution with white light reflected at the external surface.
There is still another view, which indeed is that actually maintained by Walter, whose argument and conclusion * it may be well to quote :
" A further striking and at the same time more instructive proof of the equivalence of the lustre of butterfly-scales and the surface-colours of strongly absorbing dyes is to be found in the changes which the colours of these organs exhibit when immersed in fluids of varied refrangibility. These experiments are instructive because they disclose the manner in which the dye is contained in. animal substances.
" The experiments show that, except when it is deep blue or violet, the lustre moves one or two colour-intervals in the direction from the blue towards the red end of the spectrum with increasing refrangibility of the surrounding medium, but at the same time becomes weaker. For example, the scales of Morpho onenelaits, L., which glitter green-blue in air, become in ether (n = l-36) a pure green, shining less strongly, again in chloroform (n = l'45) a yellowish green and now decidedly weaker than in ether. In benzol (n = 1*52) and in bisulphide of carbon (n = T64) the weak yellow-green lustre is perceptible only with direct sunshine in a dark room. In a similar manner the scales of Urania ripheus shining green in air, in ether, alcohol or water become golden yellow, the yellow red and the red blue, while in benzol and bisulphide of carbon scarcely a trace of glitter remains.
* Lnc. 'cit. p. 96.e used warm alcoholic solutions spread upon previously warmed glass plates. Latterly I have examined some more dyes, for which I am indebted to Prof. Green. In no case have I seen any considerable change of well-developed colour unless the light was polarized. 1853, p. 393; MatJi. and Pliys. Papers, Vol. iv. p. 42.tures, p. 626,1807). If the mercury be wet, boiling may be dispensed with and negative pressures of two atmospheres are easily demonstrated.