Optical Bench

Optical Bench

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In 1929, shortly after becoming Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Charles Greeley Abbot established a Division of Radiation and Organisms to study relationships between solar radiation and the growth of plants. This unsigned optical bench is probably the one that this Division purchased in 1930. Frederick Sumner Brackett (then on the payroll of the Fixed Nitrogen Lab at the U.S. Department of Agricultura) was research associate in charge of the Division. The Division became the Smithsonian Radiation Biology Laboratory in the 1960s.
Ref: Earl S. Johnston, “The Division of Radiation and Organisms: Its Origin and Scope,” The Scientific Monthly 63 (1946): 371-380.
“Report on the Division of Radiation and Organisms,” Smithsonian Institution Annual Report for the Year Ending June 30, 1930 (1931): 115-122.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Optical Bench
optical bench
overall; prism in jar: 4 1/2 in x 3 1/4 in; 11.43 cm x 8.255 cm
overall; bench: 8 5/8 in x 40 1/4 in x 10 in; 21.9075 cm x 102.235 cm x 25.4 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
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Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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