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    Augustin-Jean Fresnel. Autograph Letter.
    Four page bifolium in French, 7.25" x 8.75", Rennes; December 3, 1818. In this detailed letter to Fran├žois Arago (1786-1953), the French mathematician, physicist, and astronomer, with whom he was communicating on a regular basis, Fresnel discusses the effects of light traveling through a small hole and the differences observed depending on the distance of the light source from the hole. He notes that he made a mistake in his reasoning in his essay on the topic and he shows how simple geometrical concepts can clarify his error. Fresnel comments on the possibility of developing a "mechanical theory of light" based on studies of light reflecting off various surfaces, and proposes that in this way the movement of light could be subsumed within the laws of motion, or physics.
    The letter includes a sketch that accompanies his argument.
    Augustin-Jean Fresnel (1788-1827) was a French civil engineer and physicist whose research in optics led to the almost unanimous acceptance of the wave theory of light from the late 1830s until the end of the 19th century. He is best known for inventing the catadioptric (reflective/refractive) Fresnel lens and for pioneering the use of "stepped" lenses to extend the visibility of lighthouses, saving countless lives at sea. He died of tuberculosis at the young age of 39.
    The letter presents a detailed scientific content by one of France's leading scientists of the period.
    Condition: The letter has the usual folds and five miniscule pinholes which do not affect the text; otherwise good.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2019
    4th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 261

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