Léon Foucault (1819–1868)
|Born||18 September 1819|
|Died||11 February 1868 48) (aged|
|Alma mater||University of Paris|
|Known for||Foucault pendulum, eddy currents|
|Awards||Copley Medal (1855)|
Jean Bernard Léon Foucault (French: [ʒɑ̃ bɛʁnaʁ leɔ̃ fuko] ; 18 September 1819 – 11 February 1868) was a French physicist best known for his demonstration of the Foucault pendulum, a device demonstrating the effect of the Earth's rotation. He also made an early measurement of the speed of light, discovered eddy currents, and is credited with naming the gyroscope.
A physicist is a scientist who specializes in the field of physics, which encompasses the interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales in the physical universe. Physicists generally are interested in the root or ultimate causes of phenomena, and usually frame their understanding in mathematical terms. Physicists work across a wide range of research fields, spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic and particle physics, through biological physics, to cosmological length scales encompassing the universe as a whole. The field generally includes two types of physicists: experimental physicists who specialize in the observation of physical phenomena and the analysis of experiments, and theoretical physicists who specialize in mathematical modeling of physical systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. Physicists can apply their knowledge towards solving practical problems or to developing new technologies.
The Foucault pendulum or Foucault's pendulum is a simple device named after French physicist Léon Foucault and conceived as an experiment to demonstrate the Earth's rotation. The pendulum was introduced in 1851 and was the first experiment to give simple, direct evidence of the earth's rotation. Today, Foucault pendulums are popular displays in science museums and universities.
The speed of light in vacuum, commonly denoted c, is a universal physical constant important in many areas of physics. Its exact value is 299,792,458 metres per second. It is exact because by international agreement a metre is defined as the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299792458 second. According to special relativity, c is the maximum speed at which all conventional matter and hence all known forms of information in the universe can travel. Though this speed is most commonly associated with light, it is in fact the speed at which all massless particles and changes of the associated fields travel in vacuum. Such particles and waves travel at c regardless of the motion of the source or the inertial reference frame of the observer. In the special and general theories of relativity, c interrelates space and time, and also appears in the famous equation of mass–energy equivalence E = mc2.
Foucault was the son of a publisher in Paris, where he was born on 18 September 1819. After an education received chiefly at home, he studied medicine, which he abandoned in favour of physics due to a blood phobia.He first directed his attention to the improvement of Louis Daguerre's photographic processes. For three years he was experimental assistant to Alfred Donné (1801–1878) in his course of lectures on microscopic anatomy.
Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.
Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its motion, and behavior through space and time, and that studies the related entities of energy and force. Physics is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines, and its main goal is to understand how the universe behaves.
Blood phobia is extreme and irrational fear of blood, a type of specific phobia. Severe cases of this fear can cause physical reactions that are uncommon in most other fears, specifically vasovagal syncope (fainting). Similar reactions can also occur with trypanophobia and traumatophobia. For this reason, these phobias are categorized as "blood-injection-injury phobia" by the DSM-IV. Some early texts refer to this category as "blood-injury-illness phobia."
With Hippolyte Fizeau he carried out a series of investigations on the intensity of the light of the sun, as compared with that of carbon in the arc lamp, and of lime in the flame of the oxyhydrogen blowpipe; on the interference of infrared radiation, and of light rays differing greatly in lengths of path; and on the chromatic polarization of light.
Armand Hippolyte Louis Fizeau FRS FRSE MIF was a French physicist, best known for measuring the speed of light in the namesake Fizeau experiment.
Light is electromagnetic radiation within a certain portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The word usually refers to visible light, which is the visible spectrum that is visible to the human eye and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light is usually defined as having wavelengths in the range of 400–700 nanometres (nm), or 4.00 × 10−7 to 7.00 × 10−7 m, between the infrared and the ultraviolet. This wavelength means a frequency range of roughly 430–750 terahertz (THz).
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is a nearly perfect sphere of hot plasma, with internal convective motion that generates a magnetic field via a dynamo process. It is by far the most important source of energy for life on Earth. Its diameter is about 1.39 million kilometers, or 109 times that of Earth, and its mass is about 330,000 times that of Earth. It accounts for about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System. Roughly three quarters of the Sun's mass consists of hydrogen (~73%); the rest is mostly helium (~25%), with much smaller quantities of heavier elements, including oxygen, carbon, neon, and iron.
In 1849, Foucault experimentally demonstrated that absorption and emission lines appearing at the same wavelength are both due to the same material, with the difference between the two originating from the temperature of the light source.
In 1850, he did an experiment using the Fizeau–Foucault apparatus to measure the speed of light; it came to be known as the Foucault–Fizeau experiment, and was viewed as "driving the last nail in the coffin" of Newton's corpuscular theory of light when it showed that light travels more slowly through water than through air.In 1851, he provided an experimental demonstration of the rotation of the Earth on its axis (diurnal motion). This experimental setup had been used by Vincenzo Viviani but became well known to the public by Foucault's work. Foucault achieved the demonstration by showing the rotation of the plane of oscillation of a long and heavy pendulum suspended from the roof of the Panthéon, Paris. The experiment caused a sensation in both the learned and popular worlds, and " Foucault pendulums " were suspended in major cities across Europe and America and attracted crowds. In the following year he used (and named) the gyroscope as a conceptually simpler experimental proof. In 1855, he received the Copley Medal of the Royal Society for his 'very remarkable experimental researches'. Earlier in the same year he was made physicien (physicist) at the imperial observatory at Paris.
The Fizeau–Foucault apparatus is either of two types of instrument historically used to measure the speed of light. The conflation of the two instrument types arises in part because Hippolyte Fizeau and Léon Foucault had originally been friends and collaborators. They worked together on such projects as using the Daguerreotype process to take images of the Sun between 1843 and 1845 and characterizing absorption bands in the infrared spectrum of sunlight in 1847.
Sir Isaac Newton was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author who is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time, and a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, first published in 1687, laid the foundations of classical mechanics. Newton also made seminal contributions to optics, and shares credit with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz for developing the infinitesimal calculus.
In optics, the corpuscular theory of light, arguably set forward by Descartes (1637) states that light is made up of small discrete particles called "corpuscles" which travel in a straight line with a finite velocity and possess impetus. This was based on an alternate description of atomism of the time period. This theory cannot explain refraction, diffraction and interference.
In September 1855 he discovered that the force required for the rotation of a copper disc becomes greater when it is made to rotate with its rim between the poles of a magnet, the disc at the same time becoming heated by the eddy current or "Foucault currents" induced in the metal.
In physics, a force is any interaction that, when unopposed, will change the motion of an object. A force can cause an object with mass to change its velocity, i.e., to accelerate. Force can also be described intuitively as a push or a pull. A force has both magnitude and direction, making it a vector quantity. It is measured in the SI unit of newtons and represented by the symbol F.
Copper is a chemical element with symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable, and ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. A freshly exposed surface of pure copper has a pinkish-orange color. Copper is used as a conductor of heat and electricity, as a building material, and as a constituent of various metal alloys, such as sterling silver used in jewelry, cupronickel used to make marine hardware and coins, and constantan used in strain gauges and thermocouples for temperature measurement.
A magnet is a material or object that produces a magnetic field. This magnetic field is invisible but is responsible for the most notable property of a magnet: a force that pulls on other ferromagnetic materials, such as iron, and attracts or repels other magnets.
In 1857 Foucault invented the polarizer which bears his name,and in the succeeding year devised a method of testing the mirror of a reflecting telescope to determine its shape. The so-called "Foucault knife-edge test" allows the worker to tell if the mirror is perfectly spherical or has non-spherical deviation in its figure. Prior to Foucault's publication of his findings, the testing of reflecting telescope mirrors was a "hit or miss" proposition.
Foucault's knife edge test determines the shape of a mirror by finding the focal lengths of its areas, commonly called zones and measured from the mirror center. In the test, light from a point source is focused onto the center of curvature of the mirror and reflected back to a knife edge. The test enables the tester to quantify the conic section of the mirror, thereby allowing the tester to validate the actual shape of the mirror, which is necessary to obtain optimal performance of the optical system. The Foucault test is in use to this date, most notably by amateur and smaller commercial telescope makers as it is inexpensive and uses simple, easily made equipment.
With Charles Wheatstone’s revolving mirror he, in 1862, determined the speed of light to be 298,000 km/s – 10,000 km/s less than that obtained by previous experimenters and only 0.6% in error of the currently accepted value.
In 1862 Foucault was made a member of the Bureau des Longitudes and an officer of the Legion of Honour. He became a member of the Royal Society of London in 1864, and member of the mechanical section of the Institute a year later. In 1865 he published his papers on a modification of James Watt's centrifugal governor; he had for some time been experimenting with a view to making its period of revolution constant and developing a new apparatus for regulating the electric light. Foucault showed how, by the deposition of a transparently thin film of silver on the outer side of the object glass of a telescope, the sun could be viewed without injuring the eye. His chief scientific papers are to be found in the Comptes Rendus, 1847–1869. Near his death he returned to Roman Catholicism that he previously abandoned.
Foucault died of what was probably a rapidly developing case of multiple sclerosison 11 February 1868 in Paris and was buried in the Montmartre Cemetery.
The asteroid 5668 Foucault was named for him.His is one of the 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.
Luminiferous aether or ether, was the postulated medium for the propagation of light. It was invoked to explain the ability of the apparently wave-based light to propagate through empty space, something that waves should not be able to do. The assumption of a spatial plenum of luminiferous aether, rather than a spatial vacuum, provided the theoretical medium that was required by wave theories of light.
Dominique François Jean Arago, known simply as François Arago, was a French mathematician, physicist, astronomer, freemason, supporter of the carbonari and politician.
Marie Alfred Cornu was a French physicist. The French generally refer to him as Alfred Cornu.
The earliest known telescope appeared in 1608 in the Netherlands when an eyeglass maker named Hans Lippershey tried to obtain a patent on one. Although Lippershey did not receive his patent, news of the new invention soon spread across Europe. The design of these early refracting telescopes consisted of a convex objective lens and a concave eyepiece. Galileo improved on this design the following year and applied it to astronomy. In 1611, Johannes Kepler described how a far more useful telescope could be made with a convex objective lens and a convex eyepiece lens and by 1655 astronomers such as Christiaan Huygens were building powerful but unwieldy Keplerian telescopes with compound eyepieces.
Optics is the branch of physics which involves the behavior and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of instruments that use or detect it. Optics usually describes the behavior of visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light. Because light is an electromagnetic wave, other forms of electromagnetic radiation such as X-rays, microwaves, and radio waves exhibit similar properties.
The French Academy of Sciences is a learned society, founded in 1666 by Louis XIV at the suggestion of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, to encourage and protect the spirit of French scientific research. It was at the forefront of scientific developments in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, and is one of the earliest Academies of Sciences.
The year 1851 in science and technology involved some significant events, listed below.
Jean-Félix Picard was a French astronomer and priest born in La Flèche, where he studied at the Jesuit Collège Royal Henry-Le-Grand. He died in Paris, France.
Emission theory, also called emitter theory or ballistic theory of light, was a competing theory for the special theory of relativity, explaining the results of the Michelson–Morley experiment of 1887. Emission theories obey the principle of relativity by having no preferred frame for light transmission, but say that light is emitted at speed "c" relative to its source instead of applying the invariance postulate. Thus, emitter theory combines electrodynamics and mechanics with a simple Newtonian theory. Although there are still proponents of this theory outside the scientific mainstream, this theory is considered to be conclusively discredited by most scientists.
The Allais effect is the alleged anomalous behavior of pendulums or gravimeters which is sometimes purportedly observed during a solar eclipse. The effect was first reported as an anomalous precession of the plane of oscillation of a Foucault pendulum during the solar eclipse of June 30, 1954 by Maurice Allais, a French polymath who went on to win the Nobel Prize in Economics. Allais reported another observation of the effect during the solar eclipse of October 2, 1959 using the paraconical pendulum he invented. This study earned him the 1959 Galabert Prize of the French Astronautical Society and made him a laureate of the U.S. Gravity Research Foundation for his 1959 memoir on gravity. The veracity of the Allais effect remains controversial among the scientific community, as its testing has frequently met with inconsistent or ambiguous results over more than five decades of observation.
In the 19th century, the theory of the luminiferous aether as the hypothetical medium for the propagation of light was widely discussed. An important part of this discussion was the question concerning the state of motion of Earth with respect to this medium. The aether drag hypothesis dealt with the question of whether or not the luminiferous aether is dragged by or entrained within moving matter. According to the first variant no relative motion exists between Earth and aether; according to the second one, relative motion exists and thus the speed of light should depend on the speed of this motion, which should be measurable by instruments at rest on Earth's surface. Specific aether models were invented by Augustin-Jean Fresnel who in 1818 proposed that the aether is partially entrained by matter. The other one was proposed by George Stokes in 1845, in which the aether is completely entrained within or in the vicinity of matter.
Georges Sagnac was a French physicist who lent his name to the Sagnac effect, a phenomenon which is at the basis of interferometers and ring laser gyroscopes developed since the 1970s.
In optical testing a Ronchi test is a method of determining the surface shape (figure) of a mirror used in telescopes and other optical devices.
Claude Félix Abel Niépce de Saint-Victor was a French photographic inventor. An army lieutenant and cousin of Nicéphore Niépce, he first experimented in 1847 with negatives made with albumen on glass, a method subsequently used by the Langenheim brothers for their lantern slides. At his laboratory near Paris, Niépce de Saint-Victor worked on the fixation of natural photographic colour as well as the perfection of his cousin's heliographic process for photomechanical printing. His method of photomechanical printing, called heliogravure, was published in 1856 in Traité pratique de gravure héliographique. In the 1850s he also published frequently in La Lumière.
The Foucault knife-edge test was described in 1858 by French physicist Léon Foucault to measure conic shapes of optical mirrors, with error margins measurable in fractions of wavelengths of light. It is commonly used by amateur telescope makers for figuring small astronomical mirrors. Its relatively simple, inexpensive apparatus can produce measurements more cost-effectively than most other testing techniques.
Secretan was a company based in Paris, France that manufactured telescopes.
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