Thomas Young

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Thomas Young

(1773-1829)

Thomas Young was a brilliant man throughout his life. At a young age of fourteen, he was familiar with Latin, Greek, French, Italian, Hebrew, Arabic, and Persian. He was so educated in a variety of areas that his peers called him Phenomena Young. This Englishman found interest in languages, medicine, nature, and light. He did his studies in London, Edinburgh, and Göttingen, and practiced medicine in London. With his strong interest in sense perception, he was able to make many realizations and discoveries about the eye. For example, he was the first to realize the eye focuses by changing the shape of the lens, he discovered the cause of astigmatism, and he and Helmoltz initiated the three color theory of perception. In 1801, regardless of the uncertainty from other scientists, his double-slit experiment established that light was a wave motion, making his famous. Over the years, he gained new interests. He started studying Egyptology, and while he was one Napoleon’s expeditions he started studying the texts of Rosetta Stone. This in time helped to decipher the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic writing. Some other interests that Young acquired over the years, leading him to more discoveries are surface tension, elasticity and energy. He even worked as a professor at schools, including the Royal Institution and Cambridge University. Thomas Young was a smart, well educated English physician and physicist. His love for his work and interests allowed him to make discoveries that help us to this day, and to be remembered and acknowledged as

“…a man alike eminent in almost every department of human learning.”

Lifelong Accomplishments

1773

-Thomas Young is born

1792

-Young decided on a career in medicine.

1793

-Presented a paper before the Royal Society in which he attributed the accommodation of the eye to its muscular structure

1794

-Elected to membership of the Royal Society

-After completing his medical studies at Edinburgh and Göttingen, he returned to London to practice but continued his scholarly studies at Emmanuel College, Cambridge

-His uncle died, making him financially independent, allowing him to pursue his real interests

1798

-Some investigations on sound and light formed the starting point for his theory of interference

1799

-Began his medical practice in London

-While attending medical school, he discovered how the lens of the human eye changes shape to focus on objects at different distances

1800

-Published his experiments on Sound and Light in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society

1801

-Discovered the cause of astigmatism

-Young and Helmholtz initiated the three color theory of perception.

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