Joseph Plateau, Belgian physicist, mid 19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Joseph Plateau (1801-1883) was born in Brusels and was profesor of physics in Ghent from 1835. Whilst investigating the effects of the sun on the eye, Plateau looked at the sun for 20 seconds and consequently severly damaged his own sight. By 1840 he was completely blind however he continued to work with asistance. Plateau discovered the second, smaller drop that follows the initial drop of a liquid falling from a surface.