Thomas Young (1773-1829) was an English scientist who made contributions to a number of fields of study including light, physics, musical harmony, language and the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs. However, he is best remembered for one of the most significant experiments in human history. With his “double-slit” experiment in 1801 he was the first to discover that light is a wave, dispelling Sir Isaac Newton’s belief that light was a particle. As we all know now, light is both a wave and a particle as are other elementary particles such as electrons. Young’s work on the mysteries of light led to the study of quantum mechanics and the digital age we live in today.
Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman believed that all of quantum mechanics can be gleaned from carefully thinking through the implications of this single experiment.