Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau was a Belgian physicist and mathematician. He became the inspiration for modern cinema as he was the first man to demonstrate the illusion of a moving image. Plateau was born on October 14, 1801, and died on September 15, 1883.
Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau was described as the ‘Father of Film’ based on his notable work and invention of phenakistiscope.
Plateau was the son of an artist named Antoine Plateau, who was specialized in painting flowers. He was born in Brussels, and very talented since his childhood. For instance, Plateau could read at the very age of six that makes him a child prodigy in that era.
During his primary schooling, he was very impressed by physics lessons. He has done several experiments and observed them keenly. He vowed to discover the experiment’s secrets someday. He used to spend his school holidays in Marche-Les-Dames, along with his family and uncle.
Auguste Payen, his playfellow, and cousin became an architect and he designs the Belgian Railways. Plateau lost his father and mother at the age of 14, and the trauma of the loss made him fall ill.
Plateau’s son-in-law who happened to be a biographer named Gustaaf Van der Mensbrugghe described Plateau as a young prodigy. Plateau has developed an interest in physics at an early age and started inventing various instruments even in his school days.
Plateau chose to excel in law and took admission in law school, but he continued his experiments at home. His experiments in the home used to be dangerous and he often ends up damaging his house furniture. On one occasion, he could have killed himself while experimenting with near-apoisoning by toxic gas.
Finally, he got benefits by switching his academic focus from art to science. The directorial thesis by Plateau would provide the basis for the landmark moment in both arts as well as science.
In 1829, he started his experimentation and works on how images form on the retina. During this dissertation, he was detailing the exact color, intensity, and duration. After 3 years of his dissertation, he had created the first-ever moving image.
The device was named a Phenakistiscope. It was an instrument that was composed of two rotating discs. Those discs were the movie in the opposite direction where one was fitted with small windows while others were a set of images of a dancer. The projection of such stroboscopic photographs helped to create the illusion of motion, which further led to the development of cinema.
The google has written, “When both discs turned at exactly the right speed, the images seemed to merge, creating the illusion of a dancer in motion.”
The revolutionary device ‘Phenakistiscope’ was sole widely in Europe during its initial days. Later, Eadweard Muybridge has upgraded the device by creating a popular variation that produced the first example of stop-motion. He has done it by using images of horses.
Surely, the invention made by Plateau in effect gave the way for emerging modern cinema. However, his fascination with light cost him much more as he lost his eye-sight while he was experimenting with natural light. As per the facts, the Physicist was performing an experiment in which he used to gaze at the sun for 25 seconds to understand the concept of natural light and get a better understanding of the effects of light on the retina.
He has blamed his experiment for his declining eyesight, but many people believe that he may have suffered from chronic uveitis and lost his eyesight.
The loss of eyesight did not stop Plateau and his scientific works. During his life span of 82 years, the man has made several discoveries that include his work in the area of surface tension. The experiment was conducted by Plateau to understand the tendency of liquids and hoe they shrink into the smallest possible surface area.
Along with the studies of surface tension, Plateau continued his work on the phenomena of capillary action. Little you know that the mathematical problem of existence of a minimum surface was named after the Plateau. He had conducted extensive studies of soap films and he also formulated the Plateau’s laws that describe the structures formed by such films in foams.
One of the greatest achievements in his life was the event when he became a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in the year 1872. Google has celebrated his 218th Birthday anniversary of the scientist with the doodle.