Paris: Mallet-Bachelier, 1859. FIRST EDITION. With 14 folding plates. Contemporary marbled boards backed in pebbled calf; some foxing, especially in the text toward the end of each volume, otherwise a very good copy with the stamp of the Bibliotheque de Sichel with its motto, “Nihil sine opera.”. Item #15346
First edition of Billet’s fundamental textbook of optics, with emphasis on polarization, refracting and interference. He opens with basic theories and constants of optics, vibratory movements, diffraction, polarized and unpolarized light, and proceeds to detail the new principles of geometric optics, double circular refraction, rotatory polarization and chemistry, and the theories of double refraction, among many other topics.
Billet (1808-1882) was professor of physics at the Faculty of Science at Dijon. He is known for inventing the split lens, as well as an apparatus that made multiple rainbows visible.
It is noted in the DSB that Marie Alfred Cornu (1841-1902), who made a number of important contributions to spectrum analysis, while a probationer at the École des Mines, “was attracted to experimental optics by an exhaustive sutdy of Félix Billet’s celecrated Traité d’optique, and he repeated all the experiments in this work in his spare time.” For his re-determination of the velocity of light, Cornu was awarded the La Caze Prize of the Académie des Sciences and the Rumford Medal of the Royal Society.