Publisher Information: Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1894.
Presentation CopyMichelson, Albert Abraham (1852-1931). Determination experimentale de la valeur du metre en longueurs d'ondes lumineuses. Offprint from Travaux et Memoires du Bureau International des Poids et Mesures, Vol. 11. 4to. 237 pp. 2 plates. Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1894. 314 x 240 mm. Contemporary cloth. Title evenly browned, with small bookplate tipped to it; bookplate also on front pastedown. Presentation Copy, inscribed (probably by a publisher's clerk) on the front free endpaper: "Avec les compliments de l'Auteur."
First Separate Edition of Michelson's paper describing his and Edward Morley's experimental determination of the length of the international meter bar in terms of wave-lengths of cadmium light, providing thereby a reproducible standard. "Adapting his refractometer as a comparator for lengths that could be reduced through spectroscopy and interferometric techniques to nonmaterial standards of length, Michelson found in 1892-93 that the Paris meter bar was equal to 1,553,163.5 wavelengths of the red cadmium line. So elegant were the success and precision of this project that Michelson became internationally famous" (DSB).
In 1907 Michelson, "the man who taught the world to measure," became the first American to win a Nobel Prize in the sciences, receiving the physics prize for his "optical instruments of precision and the spectroscopic and metrological investigations which he carried out by means of them" (Weber, Pioneers of Science [2nd ed.], p. 31). Michelson is remembered today chiefly for the "Michelson-Morley experiment" (1887), an attempt to measure the relative velocity through which the earth moves through the hypothetical "luminiferous ether"-primarily because of the influence this had on the development of relativity theory. It is probable, however, that the above work of 1894 was also highly valued by the Nobel committee in 1907.
Our sources do not show a separate English-language edition of Michelson's Determination experimentale de la valeur du metre, nor do they indicate where, if ever, the English-language version was published. Since Michelson performed his measurements in Paris, it is reasonable to assume that his paper appeared first in French. Parkinson, Breakthroughs: A Chronology of Great Achievements in Science and Mathematics, p. 424.Book Id: 31572