The original significance of the infrared spectrum —or simply “infrared,” as it’s often called— as a form of heat radiation is perhaps less obvious today than it was at the time of its discovery in 1800 by Sir William Herschel during his search for new optical material to reduce the brightness of the Sun’s image in telescopes during solar observations.

However, it wasn’t Herschel who originated the term “infrared.” The word only began to appear in print around 75 years later, and it’s still unclear who originated it.


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