Portrait of Willebrord Snell, 1580-1626.

Portrait of Willebrord Snell, 1580-1626.

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Portrait of the Dutch mathematician and physicist Willebrord Snell, 1580-1646. Snell studied law and mathematics, and in 1613 succeeded his father as professor of mathematics at Leiden University. He published translations of mathematical works, and also became interested in geodesy (the science of mapping the Earth's surface and correlating geolo- gical, gravitational & magnetic measurement). He developed the basic law of the refraction of light known as Snell's law, in 1621. This states that for light passing from one medium into another, the ratio between the sines of the angle of inci- dence and of the angle of refraction is a constant The law was published by Descartes in 1637.

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Keywords: 17thc, developer, geodesy, mathematician, physicist, portraits, refraction, snell, snell's law of, surname s, willebro, willebrord

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