Thomas Young (1773–1829) is best known in the physics community for his double-slit experiment demonstrating the wave property of light and for his work on the tensile properties of solids (Young’s modulus). His reputation as a physicist was built almost entirely upon a short, three-year period (1801–1803) of intense work as an instructor in physics and philosophy at the Royal Institution. The culmination of his work at the Royal Institution is described in A Course in Lectures on Natural Philosophy and Mechanical Arts (1807), a two-volume set containing a wide diversity of topics, including his double-slit experiments. Physics teachers and their students should be aware that Thomas Young’s contributions went far beyond these two accomplishments. Little known is that, despite having a reputation as a physicist, Young never took degrees in natural philosophy (physics). He studied to become a physician by attending prestigious medical schools in London, Edinburgh, and Göttingen. To become certified as a physician, he completed a bachelor’s and doctorate degrees at Cambridge University in physic (medicine).

1.
T.
Young
,
A Course of Lectures on Natural Philosophy and the Mechanical Arts
(
Joseph Johnson
,
London
,
1807
), available through Google Books at https://books.google.com/books?id=lyQEAAAAQAAJ&source=gbs_navlinks_s.
2.
G.
Peacock
,
Life of Thomas Young, M.D., F.R S., &c., and One of the Eight Foreign Associates of the National Institute of France
(
John Murray
,
London
,
1855
), p.
6
, https://books.google.com. Accessed June 15, 2017.
3.
Ibid., p. 21.
4.
I.
Newton
,
Optiks
(
Dover
,
1952
), p.
370
.
5.
Ref. 1, p. 615.
6.
Ref. 2, p. 355.
7.
Ref. 2, p. 356.
8.
Ibid.
9.
E. A.
Wallis Budge
,
The Rosetta Stone in the British Museum
, (
The Religious Tract Society
,
London
,
1976
), p.
208
.
10.
A.
Robinson
,
The Last Man Who Knew Everything: Thomas Young the Anonymous PolymathWho Proved Newton Wrong, Explained How We See, Cured the Sick and Deciphered the Rosetta Stone
(
Pearson Education
,
New York
,
2006
), p.
151
.
11.
Ibid.
12.
Ref. 10, p. 144.
13.
Ref. 2, p. 260.
14.
Ref. 9, p. 212.
15.
All hieroglyphs in this article are from a cut-and-paste website, WikiHiero, http://www.egyptos.net/egyptos/wikihiero/.
16.
Ref. 10, p. 156.
17.
Ref. 9, p. 204.
18.
T.
Young
(anonymously), “
Egypt
,” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Supplement to the 4th, 5th, and 6th editions … With preliminary dissertations on the history of the sciences… (
1824
), pp.
38
75
, plus end plates, available for free download at https://archive.org/details/bub_gb_FFcMAQAAMAAJ, p. 62.
19.
Ref. 9, p. 210.
20.
Ref. 2, p. 313.
21.
Ref. 9, p. 209.
22.
Ref. 10, p. 219.
23.
Ref. 9, p. 209, and also Ref. 18, Plate LXXVII.
24.
Ibid., and also Ref. 18, Plate LXXIV.
25.
Ref. 2, p. 350.
26.
Ref. 2, pp. 356 – 357.
27.
Ref. 10, p. 161.
28.
Ref. 9, p. 205.
29.
A.
Wood
and
Frank
Oldham
,
Thomas Young Natural Philosopher 1773 – 1829
(
Cambridge University Press
,
1954
), p.
45
.
30.
Thomas
Young’s
Autobiographical Sketch had been lost between 1855 and 1970 but is now available in an article by Victor L. Hilts
in
Proc. Am. Philos. Soc.
122
(
4
),
248
260
(
Aug.
18,
1978
), through JSTOR database resource http://www.jstor.org/stable/986535.
31.
R.
Solé
and
D.
Valbelle
,
The Rosetta Stone
, trans. R. Rendall (
Four Walls Eight Windows
,
New York
,
2001
), p.
83
.
32.
J.
Champollion
,
Précis du Système Hiéroglyphique de Anciens Égyptiens, ou Recherche
, (
Paris
,
1824
), available through Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/b29348754_0002.
33.
R.
Parkinson
,
W.
Diffie
,
M.
Fischer
, and
R. A.
Simpson
,
Cracking Codes: The Rosetta Stone and Decipherment
(
University of California Press
,
Berkeley
,
1999
), p.
40
.
34.
Ref. 10, p. 221.
35.
Ref. 31, p. 124.
36.
Ref. 2, p. 341.
37.
Ref. 2, p. 342.
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