Christiaan Huygens

Here we listed out important facts about famous scientist Christiaan Huygens, with his Biography, Profile, Facts, Timeline, Awards, Achievement, etc.,

Born: 14 April 1629, The Hague, Netherlands
Died: 8 July 1695, The Hague, Netherlands
Nationality: Dutch
Discovered: Titan, Orion Nebula
Fields: Physics, Mathematics, Astronomy, Horology
Known for: Titan, Explanation of Saturn’s rings, Centrifugal force, Collision formulae, Pendulum clock, Huygens–Fresnel principle, Wave theory, Huygens’ engine, Birefringence, Evolute, Huygenian eyepiece, 31 equal temperament musical tuning, Huygens–Steiner theorem

  • Christiaan Huygens came from an important Dutch family. His father Constantin Huygens had studied natural philosophy and was a diplomat.
  • It was through him that Christiaan was to gain access to the top scientific circles of the times.
  • In particular Constantin had many contacts in England and corresponded regularly with Mersenne and was friend of Descartes.
  • Tutored at home by private teachers until he was 16 years old, Chritiaan learned geometry, how to make mechanical models and social skills such as playing the lute.
  • His mathematical education was clearly influenced by Descartes who was an occasional visitor at the Huygens’ home and took a great interest in the mathematical progress of the young Christiaan.
  • Christiaan Huygens studied law and mathematics at the University of Leiden from 1645 untill 1647.
  • Through his father’s contact with Mersenne, a correspondence between Huygens and Mersenne began around this time.
  • Mersenne challenged Huygens to solve a number of problems including the shape of the rope supported from its ends. Although he failed at this problem he did solve the related problem of how to hang weights on the rope so that it hung in a parabolic shape.
  • Huygens’s first publications in 1651 and 1654 considered mathematical problems.
  • The 1651 publication Cyclometiae showed the fallacy in methods proposed by Gregory of Saint Vincent, who had claimed to have squared the circle.
  • Huygens’ 1654work De Circuli Magnitudine Inventa was a more major work on similar topics.
  • Around 1654 he devised a new and better way of grinding and polishing lenses. Using one of his own lenses, Huygens detected, in 1655, the first moon of Saturn.
  • Holland Huygens wrote a small work De Ratiociniis in Ludo Aleae on the calculus of probabilities, the first printed work on the subject.
  • By 1656 Huygens was able to confirm his ring theory to Boulliau and the results were reported to the Paris group.
  • In 1656 he patented the first pendulum clock, which greatly increased the accuracy of time measurement. His work on the pendulum was related to other mathematical work which he had been doing on the cycloid as a result of the challenge by Pascal.
  • Huygens believed that a pendulum swinging In a large are would be more useful at sea and he invented the cycloidal pendulum with this in mind.
  • He built several pendulum clocks to determine longitude at sea and they underwent sea trials in 1662 and again in 1686.
  • He also derived the law of centrifugal force for uniform circular motion. As a result of this Huygens, Hooke, Halley and Wren formulated the inverse-square law of gravitational attraction.
  • While in London Huygens saw Boyle’s vacuum pump and he was impressed. After his return to the Hague he carried out a number of Boyle’s experiments for himself.
  • Huygens was elected to the Royal Society of London I
  • Huygens learnt of Newton’s work on the telescope and on light. He, quite wrongly, criticized Newton’s theory of light, in particular his theory of colour.
  • Horologium Oscillatorium contains work on the pendulum. in it Huygens proves that the cycloid is tautochronous, an important theoretical result but one which had little practical application to the pendulum.
  • He also worked on the velocity of light which he believed was finite and was pleased to hear of Romer’s experiments which gave an approximate velocity for light determined by observing Jupiter’s moons.
  • By 1678 Huygens had returned to Paris. In that year his Traite de la lumiere appeared, in it Huygens argued in favour of a wave theory of light.
  • The longitude problem had remained a constant cause for Huygens to continue work on clocks all his life.
  • Again after his health returned he worked on a new marine clock during 1682 and, with the Dutch East India Company showing interest, he worked hard on the clocks.
  • In England Huygens met Newton, Boyle and others in the Royal Society. It is not known what discussions went on between  Huygens and Newton.
  • In the final years of his life Huygens composed one of the earliest discussions of extraterrestrial life, published after his death as the Cosmotheoros (1968).
  • He continued to work on improving lenses and on a spring regulated clock and on new pendulum clocks.

Christiaan Huygens

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