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Born Dec. 11, 1781, in Jedburgh, Roxburghshire; died Feb. 10, 1868, in Allerby, Melrose. English physicist; member of the London Royal Society (1815).
Brewster studied in Edinburgh. From 1838 to 1859 he was director of the colleges and a professor at St. Andrews University and then at the University of Edinburgh. In 1849 he became president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Brewster described chromatic polarization in monaxial and biaxial crystals (1813-14). In 1815 he discovered the circular polarization of light and, while studying the polarization of light upon reflection, established the law that bears his name. Brewster discovered the phenomenon of double refraction in mediums with artificial anisotropy. He constructed lenses for lighthouses, invented the kaleidoscope (1817), and perfected the stereoscope. Brewster wrote a major biography of I. Newton.
WORKSTreatise on Optics. London, 1831.
Memoirs of the Life, Writings and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton, vols. 1-2. Edinburgh, 1855.