Person: Young, Thomas
Thomas Young was an English mathematician and physicist best known for Young's modulus and his work on interference.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- As a young boy, he did not find school very stimulating.
- In 1782 he entered a school in Crompton, Dorset, which was more suitable for a young genius since pupils were given more freedom to progress at their own pace.
- For Young this pace was very fast, for he was undoubtedly an infant prodigy.
- Although only thirteen years old, Young now became a tutor to Hudson Gurney, the twelve year old grandson of David Barcley who lived in a country house near Ware in Hertfordshire.
- Young spent five years to 1792 working in the country house or at Barcley's London home.
- Young was elected a fellow of the Royal Society on 19 June 1794.
- Young continued his medical training, entering the University of Edinburgh in 1794.
- After submitting a dissertation, Young was given an oral examination and passed on 30 April 1796.
- The dissertation used Young's expertise in anatomy, language and sound.
- Although enrolled in the medical course, Young did not study medicine at Cambridge, feeling that he already knew sufficient of that subject.
- The Cambridge men thought little of Young in return.
- Also in 1804 Young was made foreign secretary to the Royal Society of London, a post he filled for the rest of his life.
- In 1807 Young published A course of lectures on Natural Philosophy and the Mechanical Arts.
- The book also contained a mechanics lecture dealing with elasticity where Young's modulus is introduced for the first time.
- Young built up his medical practice but, although he was talented as a doctor, he had little of the manner that patients sought, so he did not have a great deal of success.
- There is yet another side to Young's broad range of activities to which as yet we have made no mention.
- The credit for deciphering hieroglyphic eventually went to the French linguist Champollion, but he benefited greatly from Young's efforts and the two corresponded at great length.
- In the end national rivalry prevented Champollion giving Young the credit that he deserved.
- However, it was Young who made the major contribution to deciphering demotic script.
- In 1816 Arago visited Young to discuss Fresnel's experiments on the wave theory of light.
- In the following year Young visited Paris and was welcomed by Arago to the Institute.
- For someone as talented as Young, he received relatively few honours.
Born 13 June 1773, Milverton, Somerset, England. Died 10 May 1829, London, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Origin England, Physics
Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive