Francois Arago, French Astronomer - stock photo
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Francois Arago, French Astronomer

Francois Jean Dominique Arago (February 26, 1786 - October 2, 1853), was a French mathematician, physicist, astronomer and politician. He was elected a member of the French Academy of Sciences, at the age of 23. The invention of the polariscope and discovery of Rotary polarization are due to Arago. His earliest physical researches were on the pressure of steam at different temperatures, and the velocity of sound. He discovered rotatory magnetism, called Arago's rotations, and the fact that most bodies could be magnetized. His fame as an experimenter and discoverer rests mainly on his contributions to magnetism and to optics. He showed that a magnetic needle, made to oscillate over nonferrous surfaces falls more rapidly in the extent of its oscillations according as it is more or less approached to the surface. In 1852, suffering first from diabetes, Bright's disease, complicated by dropsy, he resigned his post as astronomer rather than take the oath of allegiance to Napoleon III. He died in 1853 at the age of 67.

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