Bologna: heirs of Vittorio Benacci for Girolamo Bernia, 1665.
A fine copy of Grimaldi’s only publication. This very important book contains the first account of the diffraction of light discovered by the author and it marks the first scientific attempt to establish a comprehensive wave theory of light.
❧Macclesfield 943 (lacking the 2nd title); Arnoud de Vitry 429; Honeyman 1559.The diffraction experiments which Grimaldi describes here show “that a new mode of transmission of light had been discovered and that this mode contradicts the notion of an exclusively rectilinear passage of light. Diffraction thus gave prima facie evidence for a fluid nature of light. The name ‘diffraction’ comes from the loss of uniformity observed in the flow of a stream of water as it ‘splits apart’ around a slender obstacle placed in its path.” (DSB).
Grimaldi repeatedly states that colors are not something different from light but are modifications of light produced by the fine structure of the bodies which reflect it, and probably consisting of an alteration in the type of motion and in the velocity of the light. The different colors are produced when the eye is stimulated by light oscillations whose velocities differ. All these views were of fundamental importance for the subsequent development of optics.
Newton was aware of Grimaldi’s work, though only secondhand. The Englishman’s great contribution to the knowledge of diffraction is his set of careful measurements which made clear the periodic nature of the phenomenon.Provenance: old inscription to letter press title, previous stamp scrapped away and another three letter stamp in the same area.
Parkinson, Breakthroughs p. 103.
4to (252 x 184 mm), fully complete with the often lacking additional letter press title page: pp. , 1-535 [536:blank], [14:index], [2: Riccioli's address about the author]. Binding: contemporary vellum, manuscript lettering to spine, edges sprinkled in red, letter press title and a4 with some light damp staining, a few upper margins with some mild smudging, otherwise fine and clean througout - a very fine and unsophisticated copy.