NICOL, WILLIAM (? 1768-1851), Scottish physicist, was born about 1768, and died at Edinburgh on the 2nd of September 1851. Nothing is known of his early history beyond the fact that, after amassing a small competence as a popular lecturer on natural philosophy, he settled in Edinburgh to live a very retired life in the society of his apparatus alone. Besides the invention of the prism known by his name (" A method of increasing the divergence of the two rays in calcareous spar, so as to produce a single image," New Edin. Journ., 1828), he devoted himself chiefly to the examination of fluid-filled cavities in crystals, and of the microscopic structure of various kinds of fossil wood. His skill as a working lapidary was very great; and he prepared a number of lenses of garnetand other precious stones, which he preferred to the achromatic microscopes of the time.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)