The French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel is well known for creating compound lenses that change lighthouse illumination and prevent several ships from colliding with offshore rocks. He created formulas to explain reflection, double refraction, polarized light, and refraction, and he also demonstrated that light is made up of transverse waves. He was raised to be a bright student and attended École Polytechnique and École des Ponts et Chaussées. He was the son of an architect. He started working as an engineer and doing optics research. In addition to his many other findings and inferences, he conducted a study on the diffraction of light and put out the aether drag concept. He contributed to the development of the wave theory of light by building on the work of English physicist Thomas Young. But tragically, Fresnel’s brilliance and outstanding contributions to the field of optical science did not gain much credit during his lifetime, like most thinkers who were ahead of their time. Fresnel was unfazed by this lack of praise and continued to concentrate on his work and studies at all times. After he had passed away for a while, the Académie des Sciences published many of his theses and writings.
Early Childhood & Life
Augustin-Jean Fresnel, the son of Jacques Fresnel and Augustine Merimee, was born on May 10, 1788. His father worked as a builder.
He was a sluggish student when he was younger and couldn’t read until he was eight. In order to become a civil engineer, he first attended the Ecole Centrale in Caen, then transferred to the Ecole Polytechnique for further secondary education, and lastly to the Ecole des Ponts et Chausses.
Career of Augustin-Jean Fresnel
Fresnel briefly served as an army engineer after graduating, but he was dismissed in 1814 because of his support for the Bourbons.
In 1814, Fresnel began studying optics. He studied diffraction and interference fringes through tests and observations made with his equipment, which convinced him that the “wave theory of light” put forward by English physicist Thomas Young was accurate.
In 1815, he presented his research on light aberration to the French Academy of Sciences; the article, while well received, was never published. He was hired as an engineer in Paris the following year and lived there for the majority of his life.
The work of Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens was expanded upon by Fresnel in 1816, who demonstrated that Huygens’ theory and his own principle of interference could account for both the rectilinear propagation of light and the phenomena of diffraction.
He invented a novel method of lens construction that boosted the functionality of lighthouses by eliminating the need for mirrors.
Fresnel’s discovery of circularly polarized light in 1817 provided conclusive evidence that light was a transverse wave, not a longitudinal wave.
After being hired as the lighthouse commissioner in 1819, Fresnel was able to demonstrate through mathematical means that polarization could only be explained if the light was fully transverse, with no longitudinal vibration at all.
In order to explain how the aether is somewhat entrained by matter, Einstein put out the aether drag hypothesis. His notion of an almost stationary aether predicts that experiments sensitive enough to pick up second-order effects will yield favorable results. However, investigations like the Michelson-Morley experiment and the Trouton-Noble experiment, which produced unfavorable findings, have disproved his notion of aether.
In his work, he also partnered with others. He investigated the polarized ray interference laws alongside François Arago. The Fresnel-Arago laws, which are three laws that condense some of the more significant characteristics of interference between light waves in different states of polarization, were discovered as a result of their research.
Bigger Works of Augustin-Jean Fresnel
The Fresnel lens for lighthouses, a kind of small lens that may be manufactured significantly thinner than a corresponding conventional lens, was created by Augustin-Jean Fresnel. Due to their ability to be built with a big aperture and a short focal length, Fresnel lenses are able to collect more oblique light from a light source.
Recognition & Achievements
He was awarded the Académie des Sciences prize in Paris in 1819 for his essay on diffraction.
He received the Rumford Medal from the Royal Society of London in 1827, not long before he passed away.
Personal Legacy & Life
Fresnel was raised in a religious family. His relatives adhered to Cornelius Otto Jansen, a Catholic bishop, and his ideology was known as the Jansensist principles.
Fresnel’s health was bad, and he was frequently worn out from working too much. Nevertheless, he carried out his trials and study throughout his life with a great deal of passion and tenacity.
He succumbed to tuberculosis on July 14, 1827, following a brief illness.
Along with 72 other names, Augustin-Jean Fresnel’s name is commemorated on the Eiffel Tower.
Rime Fresnel and Promontorium Fresnel have been given lunar escarpments as tributes to him.
The works of Augustin-Jean Fresnel, Henri de Senaramont, Emile Verdet, and Leonor Fresnel were combined and published in a book titled “Oeuvres completes d’Augustin Fresnel, Henri de Senaramont, and Leonor Fresnel.”
Estimated net worth
The estimated net worth of Augustin-Jean Fresnel is unknown.