Thomas Young, English physicist

Thomas Young, English physicist

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Credit: ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Thomas Young (1773-1829), English doctor and physicist. Born into a Quaker family in Somerset, Young was a prodigy and had a knowledge of a dozen languages by the age of 14. He gained degrees in medicine and in physics and continued with both through his life although physics was his passion. He viewed light as a wave rather than as particles as suggested by Newton’s corpuscular theory, and showed it to be such through experiments with diffraction and interference. He derived Young’s Modulus of elasticity, proposed the current model of human colour vision and helped decode the heiroglyphs on the Rosetta Stone. Regarded as a true polymath in an era of increasing diversity of knowledge, he has been called ‘The Last Man Who Knew Everything’.

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