Thomas Young, English physicist

Thomas Young, English physicist

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Thomas Young (1773-1829), English doctor and physicist. Young disagreed with the Corpuscular or particle theory of light, suggesting it was a transverse wave. This he proved with experiments on interference & diffraction (bending) of light in 1803, although it was another ten years until Augustin Fresnel's studies finally convinced the scientific community. A practising doctor with an MD from Cambridge, Young's true love was physics. His experimentation led him to develop Young's Modulus, which relates the increase in the length of a wire to the force applied to it. He was also the first scientist to define 'work done' as force multiplied by distance, proportional to energy. Regarded as a learned scholar, he was acquainted with 10 languages, and involved in interpreting the hieroglyphics on the Rosetta Stone.

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