Accidental Scientific Discovery and Invention - Practical Photography

About the accidental scientific discovery of practical photography, history and information.


Discovery: Practical photography

Discoverer: Louis Daguerre, France

Year: 1837

How Discovered: Daguerre was a scenery painter, and he used what was called a camera obscura to help him in his painting. He happened to be experimenting with photographic plates coated with silver and made sensitive by exposure to iodine vapor. But the image he obtained was only latent and thus invisible to the eye. Then chance smiled on Daguerre. He placed one of the plates that had been exposed to light in a chemical cupboard to be cleaned and used again. Next morning, to his amazement, a perfect picture was visible on the plate. In other words, he had "developed" the latent image on the photographic plate. One or more of the chemicals in the cupboard was obviously responsible for the change. But which of the chemicals? One by one, each day he tried the effect of the chemicals on freshly prepared photographic plates. He was down to the last chemical that had to be tested. This must be the one that "developed" the photographic plate. Next day he was puzzled to find that this last remaining chemical had no effect either. Then his eye caught some glistening drops of mercury that he had spilled in the cupboard he had used. It was mercury vapor that had "developed" the photographic image. In ecstasy Daguerre shouted: "I have seized the light! I have arrested his flight! The sun himself in future shall draw my pictures!"

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