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Thomas Young (portrait)
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Portrait of Thomas Young (British Museum)




Thomas Young (1773-1829) was a noted English physicist and medical doctor who made several major breakthroughs in physics, optics, and biology as well as Egyptology. Among his main scientific accomplishments was establishing the wave theory of light. Between 1793 and 1801 he also demonstrated the workings of color vision as due to three distinct nerve fibers on the retina, a finding later developed by von Helmholz. In 1804 he discovered methods of measuring capillary action, later developed by LaPlace and unified in the Young-LaPlace Equation, describing the interface of two static fluids.

Young also became interested in Egyptology and in 1814 was the first to translate the demotic script, 
comprising one of the three scripts on the Rosetta stone. This proved one of the main keys to Champollion's successful decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphs in 1822.

 
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