Robert W. Wood

Robert W. Wood books and biography

Robert W. Wood

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Robert Williams Wood (May 2, 1868 – August 11, 1955) was an American physicist. Born in Concord, Massachusetts, Wood was professor of experimental physics at Johns Hopkins University from 1901. He is probably best known for his work discrediting the phenomenon of N rays.

His fields of interest included Raman spectroscopy, field emission, optics, and the manufacture of diffraction gratings. The optical effect belonging to diffraction grating known as Wood's anomaly is named after him. He won the Henry Draper Medal of the National Academy of Sciences in 1940 for his contributions to astrophysics.

Wood died in Amityville, New York.

He published a number of books including Physical Optics (1905) and How to Tell the Birds from the Flowers and Other Wood-Cuts: A Revised Manual of Flornithology for Beginners (1907) ISBN 0-486-20523-1.

The Wood crater on the far side of the Moon was named after him. He discovered that the darkest area of the Moon in ultraviolet light is the Aristarchus Plateau.

It is not generally appreciated that Professor Robert Wood of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, described by his biographer (Seabrook, 1941) as 'The modern wizard of the laboratory', was undoubtedly the father of both infrared and ultraviolet photography. The discovery of the radiations beyond the visible spectrum and the sensitization of emulsions capable of recording them pre-date Wood, but he holds the distinction of being the first to intentionally produce photographs with both infrared and ultraviolet radiation and also for being the first to photograph the ultraviolet fluorescence phenomenon.

See also

  • Wood's lamp
  • Wood's glass


  • Doctor Wood, Modern Wizard of the Laboratory: The story of an American small boy who became the most daring and original experimental physicist of our day — but never grew up by William Seabrook (1941)

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