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Chapter 23:
Brewster’s Optical Toy
David Brewster (1781 to 1868) is known to every student of optics for his contributions to our knowledge of polarized light, particularly through the study of Brewster’s angle. His publications include over 300 technical papers, several books, and numerous reports in encyclopedias, etc. He helped found the British Association for the Advancement of Science and was a fellow of the Royal Society from which he was awarded the Copley medal, the Rumford medal, and six other Royal medals. He was a corresponding member of the French Institute, from which he was honored with prizes for his contributions to optics, and was also president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Beyond this, he also achieved many other distinctions. Yet, Brewster’s daughter, two years after his death, regarded that his invention of the kaleidoscope, “though of little practical advantage, spread his name far and near, from schoolboy to statesman, from peasant to philosopher, more surely and lastingly than his many noble and useful inventions.”
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