Thomas Young (1773-1829)

Thomas Young

1773 On the 14th of June, Milverton, England, Thomas Young was born. He proved to be a precocious child. He learnt to read when he was two years old, at 6 he started to read literature and at 8 he did geodetic measurements as he was taught by a topographist, in whose care he had been entrusted. He started to learn necessary mathematical elements in order to understand operations and calculations related to topography. Then he studied Latin, Greek, French, Italian, Hebrew, Persian and Arabic. In the same time he was interested in botany. During a trip to London he was learnt by Dr. Higgins chemical elements. His maternal uncle, proud of his nephew’s success, put him in touch with famous scholars at that time and who lived in England. Being time to choose a carrier, Young decided to study medicine that he studied at London.

1793 When he was 20 years old, he presented a communication to Royal Society, one related to visual habituation problem. He explained the fact that visual can remain clear to very different distances of concerned objects. Kepler, Descartes suspected that this thing must have been regarded to capacity that eye has to put itself up, but Young is that who demonstrated by direct observations the capacity of crystalline to change its shape, so the flexion, having specific muscles, and in this way the image is always brought on the retina and visual would be clear.

Young was the first who experimentally demonstrated light interference. For this purpose, he made two beams of light to start from the same point, but to have a little bit different paths until the moment they meet. According to the value of path difference, he got strengthening of light intensity or weakening and even twilight in the interference point. This experience represented a first clear explanation of all iridescence phenomena, noticed by Hooke, Newton and which remained as a nightmare for physicists. Based on this theory, Young imagined a device that could measure without difficulty the dimensions of the smallest bodies, for example, blood cells, pollen grains.

Young met Fresnel, guided him and joyfully supported him, sustained him so contributed to his wonderful debuts.

It was shown that Young had multiple concerns, so it is not to be wondered that he solved the first the hieroglyphs problem, deciphering many and hard Egyptian inscriptions. He also dealt with painting, music and he was able to play almost all musical instruments. His dictum was that “each man can do what another has done”.

Young also dealt with acoustic, studying the cause of sounds weakening and beat phenomenon. He was the first who could realize a quantification of wavelengths of light. He established the difference between non coherent rays, underlying the coherence importance in interference phenomena production. Paradoxical result that light gathered with light results twilight, amazed contemporaries and Young was criticized.

Because of multiplicity and diversity of researches done by Young, it is hard and almost impossible to present here even an approximate acquiring of Young’s works. Among the most important there are: “Natural Philosophy Principles” in two volumes of 800 pages each of them, “Introduction to Medical Literature”, “Hieroglyphic Writing”, “Tidal Theory”, “Eclipses Calculating”, “Grammar Tests”, “Marine Almanac” – a very important work for navigation – written during his secretary of Longitudes Office term.

1829 On the 10th, Thomas Young passed away.

1855 Young’s works were published at London as “Selected Works”; Young was member of Royal Society, fact that demonstrated his merits recognition.[1]






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