Research activity in the optics field has been lively in France for a long time; the following names may be recalled: Fermat, Descartes, Fresnel, Arago, Cornu, Savart, Deslandres, Cotton, Fabry, Lyot, de Gramont, Cabannes. Even at the present time a relatively important number of research workers are dealing with optical problems; among the 550 physicists at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), 125 are working in the field of spectroscopy and optics, and this is at least partly due to the fact that a larger part of the curriculum is still devoted to such classical subjects as optics. The present paper deals with optics in the usual sense and also with that area of spectroscopy that includes the regions outside the so-called luminous optics, i.e., from ultraviolet to infrared. It is divided into seven sections: (A) instrumental optics, (B) optics for radioastronomy, (C) spectroscopic instrumentation, (D) atomic spectroscopy, (E) solid-state spectroscopy, (F) molecular spectroscopy, and (G) microwave spectroscopy. In each section, a summary of present activity is given, omitting that which is well known or obsolete. A comparison of the above divisions and the authors’ names will lead the reader to an unambiguous conclusion about writing responsibilities.
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