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Leon Foucault
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Scientist
    (September 18, 1819-February 11, 1868)
    Born in Paris, France
    Birth name was Jean Bernard Leon Foucault
    Last name pronounced foo-co
    Physicist
    Measured the speed of light to within 1% of the currently accepted value (1862)
    Namesake for the Foucault pendulum: a pendulum whose plane of oscillation appears to move as a result of the Earth rotating beneath it
    First public demonstration of a Foucault pendulum was in February, 1851
    Considered the first direct evidence of the Earth's rotation
    He often held his head at an odd tilt because he was shortsighted in one eye and farsighted in the other.
    He originally planned to become a doctor, but he could not stand the sight of blood.
    The original Foucault pendulum was irreparably damaged when the cable supporting the bob snapped (2010).
    Demonstrating a showman's flair, before performing the pendulum experiment, he sent cards to the leading scientists in Paris reading, 'You are invited to come see the Earth turn, tomorrow from 3 to 5, at Meridian Hall of the Paris Observatory.'
    He took the first photographs through a microscope and the first photos of the sun.
    He was named an Officer of the Legion of Honor (1862).
    Foucault pendulums remain popular exhibits in science museums.

Credit: C. Fishel


 
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