◀ ▲ ▶History / 19th-century / Person: Fizeau, Armand-Hippolyte-Louis
Person: Fizeau, Armand-Hippolyte-Louis
Hippolyte Fizeau was a French physicist, best known for measuring the speed of light.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- An important event, which was to have a marked affect on Fizeau's future, happened in September 1839.
- Louis-Jacques Daguerre put on a free course on his new photographic techniques in Paris and the two friends Fizeau and Foucault attended.
- Although Fizeau and Foucault were impressed they also realised the limitations of the process - it would be wonderful to be able to take portraits, they thought, but the subject could not be expected to remain motionless for 30 minutes.
- After the course ended they began to experiment to try to speed up the process, and Fizeau had the idea of sensitizing the plate using bromine.
- After an excellent education at the Collège Stanislas, Fizeau entered the Paris Medical School in 1840.
- Arago was aware of the great scientific potential of the new methods of photography and, in particular, he was aware of the advances made by Fizeau and Foucault.
- Arago was delighted with the success of Fizeau and Foucault in photographing the sun, and suggested to them that they try to calculate the speed of light with an earth based experiment.
- Both Fizeau and Foucault had their own ideas how to proceed and after an initial period working on this together they split up.
- In July 1849 Fizeau set up a mirror at his parents' home at Suresnes and another on Montmartre, the hill on the right bank of Paris.
- In April 1850 Foucault became the first to show that light travelled more slowly in water than in air - Fizeau confirmed this result with his apparatus seven weeks later.
- In 1851 Fizeau tried to measure the passage of the earth through the ether and achieved a negative result.
- Since Einstein frequently referred to the Fizeau experiment (1851) which Michelson had repeated in 1886, but more recent literature often cites Hoek's experiment (1868) instead, we finally analyze these experiments and their historical significance.
- reveals that Foucault once collaborated in his laboratory with Fizeau in testing ether drag by transparent bodies.
- The integral text of Fizeau's memoir of September 29, 1851, when reread in the light of this first, unsatisfactory project, is indicative of a new approach.
- Fizeau was made a knight of the Légion d'Honneur in 1849.
- Fizeau was elected to the Academy of Sciences on 2 January 1860, rather surprisingly before Foucault who was not elected until 1865.
- Thérèse died young and after this Fizeau retired to his home near Jouarre.
Born 23 September 1819, Paris, France. Died 18 September 1896, Nanteuil-le-Haudouin, Seine-et-Marne, France.
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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