A Thrill In The Dark
In Victorian times there was a great resurgance of interest shown in scientific knowledge this was to a large extent due to the way in which scientific lectures were presented.The Royal Institution in London was (indeed still is) famous for its innovative presentation of science.The magic lantern more than any other instrument was responsible for making scientific experiments accessible to a large audience.Intitially it was slides that were produced of subjects of a scientific nature later specialist projection equipment was introduced to present " live experiments". It is often easy to dismiss these as " novelty" science however as the illustrations below suggest this was not the case real science was produced with this sophisticated equipment.
A microscope attachment for a magic lantern, the objective lens of a lantern was removed and this apparatus screwed into place. Introducing standard sized microscope slides into the slot allowed tiny obejects to be viewed by a mass audience. It is easy to see how , for example, causes of diseases could be identified and explained to medical students using this apparatus.
The lantern illustrated has been especially designed for scientific experiments the open stage between the condenser and the objective lenses allows science experiments to be viewed on the screen (this lantern has been set up to demontrate electrical discharge).The lantern was employed in all manner of scientific experiments however it was, by its very nature, ideally suited for experiments with light and the apparatus below gives some indication of just how sophisticated the experimental potential was for such equipment.
A Science Lantern by Ross of London
Photos by permission of Mike Chaney
An advert for a Science Lantern by Reynolds & Branson of Leeds 1902