Thomas Young, English physician and physicist, c 1810.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving by Henry Adlard, after Sir Thomas Lawrence, of Thomas Young (1773-1829). Young was an English physicist, physician, Egyptologist and scholar. He was a prodigal child who read fluently at the age of two, and by the age of sixteen was proficient in Greek and Latin, and well versed in eight other languages. By the age of eighteen he was recognised as an accomplished scholar. Young was a physician by profesion but pursued his real interest in physics throughout his life. His greatest achievement as a physicist was to explain the interference of light. He projected ultraviolet rays on silver chloride-covered paper and showed that interference resulted.