Measurement, as much as if not more than mathematics, is the essence of modern natural philosophy and artful invention. To measure is to begin to understand and to manipulate. Yet modern scientific instrumentation is so complex and so thoroughly prepackaged that it is difficult to know enough about what goes on inside the “black boxes” that we use to measure. Only a hundred years ago it was still possible for some people to at least appreciate and for a few to manipulate nearly every instrument in specialized usage. One such person in physical optics was Albert Abraham Michelson, a US naval officer who became a world‐renowned experimenter and preeminent master of measurement by light waves largely through his playful work with interferometers and interferometry. Measurement was his mistress and muse, and by virtue of his quest to understand the “innards” of all his instruments, Michelson's name became practically synonymous with extremely precise measurement.

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