JEAN-LOUP CHARMET / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JEAN-LOUP CHARMET / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Portrait of the French physicist and pioneer of polarimetry Jean Baptiste Biot, 1774-1862. After a spell in the army Biot studied mathematics and at 26 he was teaching physics at the College de France. His research was varied. In 1804 with Gay-Lussac he made an early balloon ascent and made meteorological and magnetic observations up to 5 km. His famous work is on optical activity. He showed for the first time that substances rotate the plane of polarised light in different directions. He demonstrated that the amount of rotation is proportional to the length of the path of light passing through the optically active medium, & to concentration (if it is a solution).
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