Jean-Baptiste Biot, French polymath

Jean-Baptiste Biot, French polymath

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Credit: COLLECTION ABECASIS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Jean-Baptiste Biot. 1856 illustration of the French physicist, astronomer, and mathematician Jean-Baptiste Biot (1774-1862). Biot established the reality of meteorites, made an early balloon flight, and studied the polarisation of light. He made many contributions to the scientific community, most notably in optics, magnetism, and astronomy. In physics, particularly electromagnetism, the Biot-Savart law is an equation that describes the magnetic field generated by an electric current. Biot also helped further the field of optics in 1815 with a study in polarised light. In his experiment Biot studied the effects of polarised light as it penetrated organic substances and determined that light could be rotated clockwise or counter clockwise, dependent upon the optical axis of the material.

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