Investigating Vision

Scientific Instruments as Historiographic Tools for the Understanding of the Development and Establishment of Colour, Perception and Performance Research at Edinburgh University, 1850–1950

in Nuncius
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Abstract

This article draws a historic trajectory for the study of colour perception at Edinburgh University through the examination of three key pieces of scientific apparatus and their uses. It traces the development of colour, perception and skills research at Edinburgh University from the 1850s to 1950s. Starting point of the narrative is the advent of Wilhelm Wundt’s laboratory method from Leipzig, its inherent limitations and Edinburgh psychologists’ response to it. Through the analysis of some of the key instruments and their use for colour perception and skills research and teaching the article aims to understand the establishment of the department of psychology at Edinburgh University, and more broadly, scientific instruments as tools for understanding the formation and development of research and teaching schools.

Investigating Vision

Scientific Instruments as Historiographic Tools for the Understanding of the Development and Establishment of Colour, Perception and Performance Research at Edinburgh University, 1850–1950

in Nuncius

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    Figure 1

    Colour discs designed by James Clerk Maxwell, used during his time in Cambridge, 1855 (T.1984.61)

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    Figure 2

    Kirschmann colour mixer, one of the iconic instruments developed during Wundt’s essential years at Leipzig (T.2005.6)

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    Figure 3

    Hilger wavelength spectrometer similar to the one employed by Drever. Design type of Drever’s instrument was D78. General Catalogue of the Manufacturers Adam Hilger, 1925 (T.C. Hilger, 1925).

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    Figure 4

    Drever-Collins performance test

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