|Sir David Brewster|
||Sir David Bewster was born on December
11th, 1781, in Jedburgh, Roxburghshire, Scotland and died on February 10th,
1868, in Allerby, Melrose, Roxburghshire, Scotland
Scottish physicist noted for his experimental work in optics and polarized light--i.e., light in which all waves lie in the same plane. When light strikes a reflective surface at a certain angle (called the polarizing angle), the reflected light becomes completely polarized. Brewster discovered a simple mathematical relationship between the polarizing angle and the refractive index of the reflective substance. This law is useful in determining the refractive index of materials that are opaque or available only in small samples.
Brewster was educated for the ministry at the University of Edinburgh, but his interest in science deflected him from pursuing this profession. In 1799 he began his investigations of light. His most important studies involved polarization, metallic reflection, and light absorption. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1815, and he invented the kaleidoscope the following year. He was knighted in 1831. In the early 1840s he improved the stereoscope by utilizing lenses to combine the two dissimilar binocular pictures and produce the three-dimensional effect. Brewster was instrumental in persuading the British to adopt the lightweight, flat Fresnel lens for use in lighthouses. In 1838 he became principal of the United College of St. Salvator and St. Leonard of the University of St. Andrews and in 1859 became principal of the University of Edinburgh.
Of Brewster's numerous published works, his Treatise on Optics (1831) and Memoirs of the Life, Writings and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton (1855) are probably the most important.
Sir David Brewster was an outstanding scholar who had the distinction of going to Edinburgh University at the age of eleven. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1815, was a founder of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and was responsible for numerous inventions. He did early work on the properties of light, and the kaleidoscope. He was in touch with Fox Talbot and it was he who suggested the use of the photographic process to David Hill, as an aid to his painting. He clearly favoured Talbot's Calotype process over the Daguerreotype.
"While a Daguerreotype picture is much more sharp and accurate in its details than a Calotype, the latter possesses the advantage of giving a greater breadth and massiveness to its landscapes and portraits...In 1849 Brewster invented the Lenticular Stereoscope, a viewer for stereoscopic prints. These became popular items in Victorian drawing-rooms. His book (The Stereoscope, its history, theory and construction) is still a good introduction to stereoscopic photography, though the author rather spoilt it by his unpleasantries concerning Wheatstone, who had actually invented stereoscopy.
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