A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists/Arago, Dominique François Jean

3622766A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists — Arago, Dominique François Jean

Arago, Dominique François Jean, French physicist. B. Feb. 26, 1786. Ed. École Polytechnique, Paris. Arago, reared in the finest spirit of the Revolution, joined the staff of the Observatory, and in 1806 he was appointed to take part in the important work of measuring an arc of the terrestrial meridian as a basis of the metrical system. For his brilliant work he was, by a suspension of the age limit, admitted to the Academy at the early age of twenty-three, and he was appointed professor at the Polytechnic and Director of the Observatory. His papers, which fill seventeen volumes (1854-62), represent a remarkable series of services to science, especially in optics and electro-magnetism. He invented the polariscope and other instruments, and he was the first French man to receive the Copley Medal of the Royal Society. He belonged to most of the learned societies of Europe. Eminent as he was in science, Arago never relaxed in his humanitarian creed. He joined the Anti-Clericals in the French Parliament after the Revolution of 1830, and after the Revolution of 1848 he accepted the port folio of War and Marine. For his thorough Rationalistic sentiments one must read his letters to Alexander von Humboldt, a kindred spirit (Correspondance d'Alexandre de Humboldt avec F. Arago, 1907). D. Oct. 2, 1853.