Power of the Violet Ray


Isaac Newton (image), in 1666, used a prism to analyze the Sun’s rays. The rays were resolved into seven primary rays: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. [1]

Sir John Herschel, in his subsequent investigation of the properties of light, showed that the chemical power of the solar ray is greatest in the blue rays. The blue rays gave the least light of any of the luminous prismatic radiations, but the largest quantity of heat. Herschel’s later experiments “established the fact of the stimulating influence of the blue rays upon vegetation.” [1]

For some reason, General A.J. Pleasonton decided to use not the blue ray but the violet ray in experiments he conducted beginning in 1861. He built a grapery and his first consideration “was the proportion of blue or violet glass to be used on the roof.” Too much of the colored glass would reduce the temperature; too little of the colored glass would not afford a fair test. Pleasonton decided upon every eighth row of glass on the roof “to be violet colored, alternating the rows on opposite sides of the roof, so that the sun in its daily course should cast a beam of violet light on every leaf in the grapery.” [1]

Cuttings of vines of about twenty varieties of grapes were planted in the borders inside and outside the grapery in April 1861. “Very soon the vines began to attract great notice of all who saw them from the rapid growth they were making.” By 1862, the growth had become even more remarkable. The grape bunches were “of extraordinary magnitude, and the grapes of unusual size and development.” [1]

The success of Pleasonton’s violet-ray grapery experiment encouraged him to try something similar with animals. In 1869 he took piglets from a recent litter of Chester county pigs and separated them into two groups. One group he placed in an ordinary pen, the other in a pen with violet glass overhead. The results of this experiment were less conclusive than from the earlier grapes experiment. [1]


General A.J. Pleasonton (image) had better luck with an experiment done on an Alderney bull calf. At its birth on January 26, 1870, the calf was so puny it was not expected to live. It was placed in a pen beneath violet glass. Soon, the calf “manifested great vivacity.” The calf “began to grow and its development was marvelous.” When the calf was only four months old, it was released into the barnyard where it “manifested every symptom of full masculine vigor.” The formerly “puny bull calf” was, at the time of Pleasonton’s writing, “one of the best developed animals that can be found any where.” [1]

Pleasonton speculated on how use of the “sunlight and blue light from the sky” could mean one “would no longer have to wait five years for the maturity of a colt.” And what of those persons suffering from illness? You “could invigorate the constitutions of invalids…” Architects might even design houses arranged to introduce mixed rays of light so that “the occupants might derive the greatest benefit from their influence.” [1]

Reportedly, when General Pleasonton’s book, The Influence Of The Blue Ray Of The Sun Light And Of The Blue Color Of The Sky, was published in 1876, this instigated a two-year world-wide frenzy for exposure to blueness. The US Patent Office even awarded him a patent on blue light. Then a magazine called “American Scientific” pooh-poohed Pleasonton’s efforts and it became “case closed”: The violet-ray experiments of the 1860s-1870s were forgotten. [2]

But what if the “American Scientific” (really Scientific American) denunciations were wrong? On July 1, 1876, Scientific American sniffed that Pleasonton’s book “is more eccentric than we could have believed… beyond the sphere of legitimate criticism, and [we] place it among the many melancholy burlesques of science.” And yet even as it sneered at the general’s “bizarre notions”, Scientific American had published another article that seemed to demonstrate that blood was drawn into capillaries near the skin at different rates depending on the color of light used. [3]

——- Sources ——-
[1] The Influence of the Blue Ray of the Sunlight and of the Blue Color of the Sky, by General A.J. Pleasonton. Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen & Hafrelfinger, 1876. Republished by Kessinger.net
[2] “From The Desk Of OK Go’s Damian Kulash: A.J. Pleasonton’s ‘The Influence Of The Blue Ray Of The Sun Light And Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky'”, http://www.magnetmagazine.com/2010/06/22/from-the-desk-of-ok-gos-damian-kulash-a-j-pleasontons-the-influence-of-the-blue-ray-of-the-sun-light-and-of-the-blue-colour-of-the-sky/
[3] Banvard’s Folly: Thirteen Tales of People Who Didn’t Change the World, by Paul S. Collins. Picador, May 3, 2002


About ersjdamoo

Editor of Conspiracy Nation, later renamed Melchizedek Communique. Close associate of the late Sherman H. Skolnick. Jack of all trades, master of none. Sagittarius, with Sagittarius rising. I'm not a bum, I'm a philosopher.
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