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ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Sir David Brewster (1781-1868), Scottish physicist. Brewster was born at Jedburgh where his father was rector of the local school. Brewster was sent up to Edinburgh at the age of 12 in order to study for the clergy, and although he completed his studies his interests lay in natural sciences. Largely self-taught in physics, Brewster made many contributions to optics, especially relating to polarisation. He discovered the angle at which an incident beam of polarised light is perfectly transmitted through a surface with no reflection - known as Brewster's Angle. Brewster was a prolific writer, contributing to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and was instrumental in the establishment of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. In that same year he was knighted. In 1838 he was appointed college principal at the University of St.Andrews and in 1859 took the same post at Edinburgh.
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