How would such a scientist be able to get the spectroscopy of chemicals? Without access to modern computing or electronics how would it be possible?

Any video link or reference link are much appreciated here.

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    $\begingroup$ What type of spectroscopy are we talking about? Many spectroscopic techniques are only possible because of electronics. $\endgroup$ – Ben Norris May 19 '14 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ I think you are referring to VIS spectroscopy, right? $\endgroup$ – G M May 19 '14 at 7:53
  • $\begingroup$ UV, IR, Visible, xray, mass spec were all known by the 1920s. NMR and EPR not until 1944. $\endgroup$ – DavePhD May 19 '14 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ @BenNorris - Is visible spectroscopy the only non-electronic method? $\endgroup$ – Victor May 19 '14 at 17:01
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    $\begingroup$ Victor, UV, IR and visible spectroscopy were all practiced without use of electricity. Xrays are generated by acceleration of electrons, so "electronics" but not a computer is needed. Similarly, for mass spec, "electonics" is needed to make ions, but electronic computation is not needed. $\endgroup$ – DavePhD May 19 '14 at 17:24

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Light from a flame, the sun, or a star, was passed though a narrow slit, then directed through a prism (F) and observed. The prism is rotatable about a vertical axis to adjust the wavelength range being observed. Bright lines in the spectrum are emission transitions and dark lines are absorption transitions.

Further progress was made using diffraction gratings instead of prisms and using photography instead of naked eye observation. Photography permitted observation of infrared and ultraviolet lines.

By these techniques, known elements were detected in the sun and other stars, and helium was discovered in the sun before it was discovered on Earth, all before 1900.

For further information see Spectroscopy History.


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