from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A device for observing individual scintillations produced by ionizing radiation, as one consisting of a tube with a magnifying lens at one end and a phosphorescent screen and speck of radioactive salt at the other.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. an early device used for observing individual nuclear disintegrations
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A small instrument containing a minute particle of a radium compound mounted in front of a fluorescent screen and viewed with magnifying lenses. The tiny flashes produced by the continual bombardment of the screen by the α rays are thus rendered visible.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. An instrument, invented by Sir William Crookes, exhibiting the fluorescence produced by radium, containing a screen of fluorescent material, usually willemite (zinc silicate), on which a trace of radium is mounted, and a magnifying-glass in front of the screen. In darkness the screen shows a number of scintillating sparks caused by the impact of the radium rays on the willemite.
Looking into a spinthariscope is quite a marvelous experience, but there are certain disadvantages.
15 The first scintillation counter was already constructed and Crookes proposed to call the instrument a "spinthariscope" from the Greek word spintharis — a scintillation. 16
Crookes, a toy called the spinthariscope, on which radium particles impinge upon sulphide of zinc and make it luminous, induced him to associate the two sets of phenomena.
In fact spinthariscope views, like all very dim phenomena, look black and white.
The spinthariscope, invented and beautifully named by William Crookes in 1903, is a device for seeing individual atoms.
Anyway, when I wrote an article about spinthariscopes for my Popular Science column, I needed a way to show in print what the inside of a spinthariscope looks like.
For comparison, here is a completely self-contained version of the spinthariscope simulation, showing off just how compact and efficient Mathematica code can be:
A spinthariscope consists of a needle, similar to a watch hand, positioned in front of a zinc sulfide luminous screen, with a magnifying glass focused on the screen.
An antique spinthariscope, like the one pictured above, can be quite “hot.”
So, there you have it – quite a nice, full-featured spinthariscope simulation.