Joseph Plateau was a Belgian physicist and a mathematician. His full name was Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau. He was the first to make illusions with moving images, which we more commonly know as animation. The device used to do this was called Phenakistiscope. He made it in 1832.
Joseph was born on 14 October 1801. He was born in Brussels, Belgium. Antonia Plateau, his father, was a flower painter. When Joseph was six years old, he could read correctly, which was a big feat back in those times. He was particularly interested in physics lessons while he was in primary school. Sadly, he lost his parents at the age of fourteen. Joseph once conducted an experiment related to the retina in which he stared into the sun for 25 seconds, because of which he later lost his eyesight.
Joseph did his schooling at a local primary school in Brussels. He did his graduation in physical and mathematical sciences at The University of Liège, a major public university in Wallonia, Belgium. He started teaching mathematics at Atheneum school in Brussels. Later, he became a professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Ghent University.
Research and Discoveries Of Joseph Antoine
After graduating from the University of Liège, Joseph submitted his thesis to his mentor Adolphe Quetelet, and it had 27 pages. Even though his idea had only 27 pages, it had many fundamental conclusions. This contained dealt with the effect of colors on the retina, the illusion of moving images, and the reanimation of different pictures through counter revolving discs. Joseph invented the first device, which showed the illusion of moving images. He named the device as Phenakistiscope.
Phenakistiscope contained two discs. One disc had small windows through which one could watch. The other disc contained a sequence of images. When the two discs were made to rotate at the preferred speed, sync was developed between windows and pictures. This sync created the animated effect. This discovery led to the development of cinema.
Personal Life of Joseph Antoine
Thomas Plateau married Augustine Thérèse Aimée Fanny Clavareau. They had two children, a son, and a daughter. His daughter married Gustave Van der Mensbrugghe, who became Thomas’s biographer. In 1872, Thomas became a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. He died in Ghent in 1883.