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BIOT, JEAN BAPTISTE V. (1774-1862)

DOI: 10.1615/AtoZ.b.biot_jean_baptiste_v

French physicist J. B. Biot, best known for his work in polarization of light, was born in Paris on April 21, 1774. In 1800, he became Professor of Physics at the College de France through the influence of Laplace, from whom he had sought and obtained the favor of reading the proof sheets of the “Mecanique Celeste”.

J. B. Biot, although younger than Fourier, worked on the analysis of heat conduction even earlier — in 1802 or 1803. He attempted, unsuccessfully, to deal with the problem of incorporating external convection effects in heat conduction analysis in 1804. Fourier read Biot’s work and by 1807 had determined how to solve the problem.

In 1804, he accompanied Gay Lussac on the first balloon ascent undertaken for scientific purposes. In 1820, with Felix Savart, he discovered the law known as “Biot and Savart’s Law”. He was especially interested in questions relating to the polarization of light and for his achievements in this field, he was awarded the Rumford Medal of the Royal Society in 1840. He died in Paris on Feb. 3, 1862.

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