Thomas Young (scientist)

Thomas Young ( born June 13, 1773 in Milverton, Somersetshire, † May 10 1829 in London ) was an English ophthalmologist and physicist.

Life and work

Young came from a family of Quakers. He was a very versatile man, who already spoke several languages ​​as a boy. He studied medicine and graduated in 1796 in Göttingen. Already in 1794 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society, London, for his work on Nahakkomodation of the eye. From 1801 to 1804 he was professor of physics at the Royal Institute, last secretary of the Board of Longitude. Young was able to prove the first that the wave theory of light could explain some phenomena that could not be reconciled with the corpuscular theory of Isaac Newton, who was looking at light as a particle, in accordance, for example, Newton's rings. In 1807 he postulated the first so-called three-color theory of vision, the advanced theory called to the Young- Helmholtz theory today Hermann von Helmholtz.

Young was the first to measure wavelengths of light and used the interference in his experiments. He gave François Arago the impetus to treat light rays as transverse waves. One of his experiments on the wave nature of light and the interference was the double slit experiment, which in quantum mechanics plays an important role later.

Significant contributions he made also to the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs. He was identified as a major rival of the Frenchman Jean -François Champollion, the ultimately the breakthrough came - partly on the basis of Young's findings. Both, however, could not be confused by the extensive opinion, the scholars of the 17th century. This could not imagine that such an early culture should have used phonographic characters, but walked away from that it constitutes ideograms in hieroglyphs.

Also great progress achieved Young in decoding and translation of the Demotic, which he called Enchorial. Because of this designation, he was never taken outside of specialist circles for knowledge and the deciphering of Heinrich Brugsch was attributed.

The lunar crater Young is named after him.