Robert Williams Wood

Wood, Robert Williams


Born May 2, 1868, in Concord, Mass.; died Aug. 11, 1955, in Amityville, N. Y. American experimental physicist.

Wood graduated from Harvard University in 1891. From 1901 to 1938 he was a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. His major works were in the field of physical optics. He discovered (1902) and investigated optical resonance. He discovered the resonance radiation of mercury vapors in the ultraviolet region and discovered and studied the polarization of resonance radiation and its dependence on a magnetic field. With these works Wood laid the basis for the theory of atomic and molecular spectra. He was the first to make a glass light filter which allowed the passage of ultraviolet rays but was opaque to visible light, and he photographed the moon in ultraviolet light..His work served as the foundation for ultraviolet and infrared photography. Wood perfected the diffraction grating. He also investigated ultrasonic vibrations and their effect on solid and liquid bodies. Wood was an honorary member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1930).


Physical Optics. New York, 1905. (Second edition, New York, 1911; third edition, New York, 1934.)
Researches in Physical Optics, vols. 1-2. New York, 1913-19.
In Russian translation:
Fizicheskaia optika. Moscow-Leningrad, 1936.


Seabrook, W. Robert Vil’iams Vud. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946. (Translated from English; contains a bibliography of Wood’s works.)