Sir David Brewster

1781 - 1868

Sir David Brewster
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Sir David Brewster

Physicist. Born in Jedburgh. Brewster spent the early years of his married life in Portobello, where he had met his wife Julia, and there made the acquaintance of the Rev. John Thomson (1778 - 1840), who became a life-long friend. Brewster went on to become Principal of the University of St. Andrews (1838) and then of Edinburgh (1859). He worked with polarised light and invented the kaleidoscope and suggested it might be useful for designing carpets. He also designed a novel optical system for lighthouses (1835) and studied fluorescence in plant chlorophyll.

He is remembered in Brewster's Law and Brewster's Angle, both of which he derived. He also wrote More Worlds than One: The Creed of the Philosopher and the Hope of the Christian (1854), which speculated on whether life existed on planets beyond the Earth.

Brewster died at Melrose.

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