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# Christiaan Huygens, FRS (English pronunciation: /hanz/, Dutch: [hyns]; 14 April 1629

8 July 1695) was a prominent Dutch mathematician, astronomer, physicist, horologist, and
writer of early science fiction. His work included early telescopic studies elucidating the nature
of the rings of Saturn and the discovery of its moon Titan, investigations and inventions related
to time keeping and the pendulum clock, and studies of both optics and the centrifugal force.
Huygens achieved note for his argument that light consists of waves,[1], now known as the
HuygensFresnel principle, which became instrumental in the understanding of wave-particle
duality. He generally receives credit for his discovery of the centrifugal force, the laws for
collision of bodies, for his role in the development of modern calculus and his original
observations on sound perception (see Repetition Pitch). Huygens is seen as the first theoritical
physicist as he was the first to use formulae in physics.

Early life
Christiaan Huygens was born in April 1629 at The Hague, the second son of Constantijn
Huygens, (15961687), a friend of mathematician and philosopher Ren Descartes, and of
Suzanna van Baerle (deceased 1637), whom Constantijn had married on 6 April 1627. Christiaan
studied law and mathematics at the University of Leiden and the College of Orange in Breda.
After a stint as a diplomat, Huygens turned to science.

Scientific work
Physics
Mechanics

Huygens formulated what is now known as the second law of motion of Isaac Newton in a
quadratic form. Newton reformulated and generalized that law. In 1659 Huygens derived the
now well-known formula for the centrifugal force, exerted by an object describing a circular
motion, for instance on the string to which it is attached, in modern notation:

with m the mass of the object, v the velocity and r the radius. Furthermore, Huygens concluded
that Descartes' laws for the elastic collision of two bodies must be wrong and formulated the
correct laws.
Wave theory

Huygens is remembered especially for his wave theory of light, expounded in his Trait de la
lumire (see also Huygens-Fresnel principle). The later theory of light by Isaac Newton in his
Opticks proposed a different explanation for reflection, refraction and interference of light
assuming the existence of light particles. The interference experiments of Thomas Young

vindicated Huygens' wave theory in 1801, as the results could no longer be explained with light
particles (see however wave-particle duality).
Optics

Huygens experimented with double refraction (birefringence) in Icelandic crystal (calcite) and
explained it with his wavetheory and polarised light.
Clocks

He also worked on the construction of accurate clocks, suitable for naval navigation. In 1658 he
published a book on this topic called Horologium. His invention of the pendulum clock, patented
in 1657, was a breakthrough in timekeeping.
Devices known as escapements regulate the rate of a watch or clock, and the anchor escapement
represented a major step in the development of accurate watches. Subsequent to this publication,
Huygens discovered that the cycloid was an isochronous curve and, applied to pendulum clocks
in the form of cycloidal cheeks guiding a flexible pendulum suspension, would ensure a regular
(i.e isochronous) swing of the pendulum irrespective of its amplitude, i.e. irrespective of how it
moved side to side. The mathematical and practical details of this finding were published in
"Horologium Oscillatorium" of 1673. Huygens was the first to derive the formula for the period
of the mathematical pendulum (with massless rod or cable), in modern notation:

with T the period, l the length of the pendulum and g the gravitational acceleration.
Huygens also observed that two pendulums mounted on the same beam will come to swing in
perfectly opposite directions, an observation he referred to as odd sympathy which in modern
times is known as resonance. Contrary to sometimes expressed popular belief Huygens was not a
clockmaker, and is not known to have ever made any clock himself; he was a scholar, scientist
and inventor, and the oldest known pendulum clocks were made by Salomon Coster in The
Hague, under a license from Huygens.
The oldest known Huygens style pendulum clock is dated 1657 and can be seen at the Museum
Boerhaave in Leiden[3][4][5][6], which also shows an important astronomical clock owned and used
by Huygens.
Huygens also developed a balance spring clock more or less contemporaneously with, though
separately from, Robert Hooke, and controversy over whose invention was the earlier persisted
for centuries. In February 2006, a long-lost copy of Hooke's handwritten notes from several
decades' Royal Society meetings was discovered in a cupboard in Hampshire, and the balancespring controversy appears by evidence contained in those notes to be settled in favor of Hooke's
claim.[7][8]

## Internal combustion and other inventions

In 1673, Huygens carried out experiments with internal combustion. Although he designed a
basic form of internal combustion engine, fueled by gunpowder, he never successfully built one.
In 1675, Christiaan Huygens patented a pocket watch. He also invented numerous other devices,
including a 31 tone to the octave keyboard instrument which made use of his discovery of 31
equal temperament.

Death
Huygens moved back to The Hague in 1681 after suffering serious illness. He attempted to return
to France in 1685 but the revocation of the Edict of Nantes precluded this move. Huygens died in
The Hague on 8 July 1695, and was buried in the Grote Kerk