Thomas Young, a physician and physicist who studied optics and the anatomy of the eye, published A Course of Lectures on Natural Philosophy and the Mechanical Arts in 1807. The two-volume work covers a range of topics in the physical sciences, including astronomy and music. Pictured here are some of his observations from anatomy and optics experiments, including his famous double-slit experiment, shown in green and black in figure 442. In the caption, Young wrote that the experiment shows “the manner in which two portions of coloured light, admitted through two small apertures, produce light and dark stripes or fringes by their interference.”

The volumes by Young, who also had a great interest in Egyptology and later helped translate the Rosetta Stone, were purchased in 2018 by the Niels Bohr Library and Archives as part of the Wenner Collection on the history of physics. The collection contains nearly 4000 rare...

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