measurement and interpretation of interactions between matter and electromagnetic radiation of varying frequencies
Spectroscopy is the study of the interaction between matter and radiated energy.
- To try to make a model of an atom by studying its spectrum is like trying to make a model of a grand piano by listening to the noise it makes when thrown downstairs.
- Plans for the final assault on Big Brother had already been worked out and agreed upon with Mission Control. Leonov would move in slowly, probing at all frequencies, and with steadily increasing power — constantly reporting back to Earth at every moment. When final contact was made, they would try to secure samples by drilling or laser spectroscopy; no one really expected these endeavours to succeed, as even after a decade of study TMA-1 resisted all attempts to analyse its material. The best efforts of human scientists in this direction seemed comparable to those of Stone Age men trying to break through the armour of a bank vault with flint axes.
- Arthur C. Clarke, in 2010: Odyssey Two (1982), Ch. 43: Thought Experiment
- ...and so recent are our best contrivances, that use has not dulled our joy and pride in them; and we pity our fathers for dying before steam and galvanism, sulphuric ether and ocean telegraphs, photograph and spectroscope arrived, as cheated out of half their human estate.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson in: Works, 1883, p. 243
- In a certain sense I made a living for five or six years out of that one star [ υ Sagittarii ] and it is still a fascinating, not understood, star. It’s the first star in which you could clearly demonstrate an enormous difference in chemical composition from the sun. It had almost no hydrogen. It was made largely of helium, and had much too much nitrogen and neon. It’s still a mystery in many ways … But it was the first star ever analysed that had a different composition, and I started that area of spectroscopy in the late thirties.
- Jesse L. Greenstein in: J. B. Hearnshaw The Analysis of Starlight: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Astronomical Spectroscopy, CUP Archive, 19 April 1990
- An attempt to study the evolution of living organisms without reference to cytology would be as futile as an account of stellar evolution which ignored spectroscopy. - J.B.S. Haldane.]]
- J.B.S. Haldane in: Tatʹi︠a︡na Nikolaevna Malʹchevskai︠a︡ (Книга для чтения- образцы научных публикации на английском языке : биология (Book for chteniya- samples of scientific publications in English: Biology), Наука, 1980, p. 41
- Spectroscopy is a powerful tool for studying biological systems. It often provides a convenient method for analysis of individual components in a biological system such as proteins, nucleic acids, and metabolites. It can also provide detailed information about the structure and mechanism of action of molecules.
- Gordon G. Hammes, in Spectroscopy for the Biological Sciences (2005), Ch. 1 : Fundamentals of Spectroscopy, p. 1
- Spectroscopy is basically an experimental subject and is concerned with the absorption, emission or scattering of electromagnetic radiation by atoms or molecules. … electromagnetic radiation covers a wide wavelength range, from radio waves to γ-rays, and the atoms or molecules may be in the gas, liquid or solid phase or, of great importance in surface chemistry, adsorbed on a solid surface. … Experimental methods of spectroscopy began in the more accessible visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum where the eye could be used as the detector.
- J. Michael Hollas, in Modern Spectroscopy (2004), Ch. 1 : Some Important Results in Quantum Mechanics
- One important object of this original spectroscopic investigation of the light of the stars and other celestial bodies, namely to discover whether the same chemical elements as those of our earth are present throughout the universe, was most satisfactorily settled in the affirmative.
- Sir William Huggins in: Norriss S. Hetherington Encyclopedia of Cosmology: Historical, Philosophical, and Scientific Foundations of Modern Cosmology, Routledge, Apr 8, 2014
- The identification of chemical atoms in stellar atmospheres is, in fact, is accomplished thousands of times a year in numerous observations. It is interesting to recall that such an achievement was considered for ever outside the boundary of human activates. A hundred years ago, Auguste Comte, … a great French philosopher, said that “we shall never be able to study the chemical composition of The celestial bodies”. His was an encyclopedic mind but it did not encompass the potentialities of the spectroscope.
- Michio Kaku in: Cosmic Chemistry, SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)
- I learned about X-ray diffraction, neutron scattering, raman scattering, infrared absorption spectroscopy, heat capacity, transport, time-dependent transport, magnetic resonance, electron diffraction, electron energy loss spectroscopy — all the experimental techniques that constitute the eyes and ears of modern solid state physics. As this occurred I slowly became disillusioned with the reductionist ideal of physics, for it was completely clear that the outcome of these experiments was almost always impossible to predict from first principles, yet was right and meaningful and certainly regulated by the same microscopic laws that work in atoms. Only many years later did I finally understand that this truth, which seems so natural to solid state physicists because they confront experiments so frequently, is actually quite alien to other branches of physics and is vigorously repudiated by many scientists on the grounds that things not amenable to reductionist thinking are not physics.
- Robert B. Laughlin, on his education at MIT, in his Nobel Prize autobiography (1998)
- In the heavens we discover [by spectroscopy] by their light, and by their light alone stars so distant from each other that no material thing can have ever have passed from one to another and yet this light, which is to us the sole evidence of the existence of these distant worlds, tell us also that each of them is built of molecules of the same kind as those which we find on earth. A molecule of hydrogen, for example, whether in Sirius or in Arcturus, executes its vibrations in precisely the same time. Each molecule therefore throughout the universe bears impressed upon it the stamp of a metric system as distinctly as does the metre of the Archives at Paris, or the royal cubit of the Temple of Karnac.
- James Clerk Maxwell in: Van Nostrand's Eclectic Engineering Magazine, Volume 9, D. Van Nostrand, 1873
- The whole subject of the X rays is opening out wonderfully, Bragg has of course got in ahead of us, and so the credit all belongs to him, but that does not make it less interesting. We find that an X ray bulb with a platinum target gives out a sharp line spectrum of five wavelengths which the crystal separates out as if it were a diffraction grating. In this way one can get pure monochromatic X rays. Tomorrow we search for the spectra of other elements. There is here a whole new branch of spectroscopy, which is sure to tell one much about the nature of an atom.
- Henry Moseley in: J. L. Heilbron H. G. J. Moseley: The Life and Letters of an English Physicist, 1887-1915, University of California Press, 1974, p. 205
- We believe that our application of terahertz technologies can provide a breakthrough in detection and identification of chemicals for homeland-security applications. Our work will further the application of terahertz spectroscopy and transmitters to meet stringent field requirements and applications.
- What we are nowadays hearing of the language of spectra is a true 'music of the spheres' in order and harmony that becomes ever more perfect in spite of the manifold variety. The theory of spectral lines will bear the name of Bohr for all time. But yet another name will be permanently associated with it, that of Planck. All integral laws of spectral lines and of atomic theory spring originally from the quantum theory. It is the mysterious organon on which Nature plays her music of the spectra, and according to the rhythm of which she regulates the structure of the atoms and nuclei.
- Arnold Sommerfeld in: Wolfgang Pauli Writings on Physics and Philosophy, Springer Science & Business Media, 27 September 1994
- The matter which we suppose to be the main constituent of the universe is built out of small self-contained building-blocks, the chemical atoms. It cannot be repeated too often that the word "atom" is nowadays detached from any of the old philosophical speculations: we know precisely that the atoms with which we are dealing are in no sense the simplest conceivable components of the universe. On the contrary, a number of phenomena, especially in the area of spectroscopy, lead to the conclusion that atoms are very complicated structures. So far as modern science is concerned, we have to abandon completely the idea that by going into the realm of the small we shall reach the ultimate foundations of the universe. I believe we can abandon this idea without any regret. The universe is infinite in all directions, not only above us in the large but also below us in the small. If we start from our human scale of existence and explore the content of the universe further and further, we finally arrive, both in the large and in the small, at misty distances where first our senses and then even our concepts fail us.
- Emil Wiechert, speech at the Königsberg Physical-Economic Society (1896) as quoted by Freeman Dyson, Infinite in All Directions: Gifford Lectures given at Aberdeen, Scotland April-November, 1985 (1988)