Thomas Young


Thomas Young was born in 1773 to Quaker parents in Milverton, England. He was a child prodigy. Before his fifth birthday, Young read the entire Bible twice. He read and wrote Latin at age six. By the time Young turned fourteen, he had knowledge of at least five languages. In time he learned twelve.

While doing a fellowship at the British Royal Society, Young wrote several papers on the human eye. He explored accommodation, meaning the eye's lens changing shape to focus on objects at various distances. Young also researched astigmatism and in 1801 hypothesized that it was the result of an improperly curved cornea. Young additionally discovered that the human eye only sees three colors, red green and blue. All other colors are made up of those three.

Young's interests did not end with ophthalmology. He also was a genius at linguistics, math, science and medicine. Young brilliantly translated the Rosetta stone, making it possible to understand ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. He created Young's modulus, which is the absolute measure of the elasticity of solids. Young confirmed the wave theory of light with his double-slit interference experiment. Throughout his life Thomas Young enlightened scholars in countless fields.