Joseph Plateau (Physicist) – Bio, Birthday, Family, Age & Born
Joseph Plateau

Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau was a Belgian physicist and mathematician. He was one of the first people to demonstrate the illusion of a moving image. To do this, he used counterrotating disks with repeating drawn images in small increments of motion on one and regularly spaced slits in the other. He called this device of 1832 the phenakistiscope.

Born: October 14, 1801, Brussels, French Republic
Died: September 15, 1883, Ghent, Belgium
Nationality: Belgian
Institutions: Ghent University
Alma mater: University of Liège
Known for: Physics of soap bubbles (Plateau’s laws), Plateau’s problem

About Joseph Plateau

Belgian physicist who made the first step towards making movies by demonstrating the illusion of the moving image with his device, the phenakistoscope. He was also a Professor of experimental physics at Ghent University.

Before Fame

At six years of age he could already read and write, and was considered a child prodigy.


Understanding that images stay on the retina for a short while even after they change, he fashioned a device that used counter rotating disks with repeating drawn images in small increments of motion on one and regularly spaced slits in the other, to demonstrate this.

Family Life

His father was known locally as a talented painter of flowers.


Thomas Edison employed some of his discoveries in building his moving-picture machine.

Information related to Joseph Plateau

  • Patterns in nature – Patterns in nature are visible regularities of form found in the natural world. These patterns recur in different contexts and can sometimes be modelled mathematically. Natural patterns include symmetries, trees, spirals, meanders, waves, foams, tessellations, cracks and stripes.
  • Plateau’s laws – Plateau’s laws describe the structure of soap films. These laws were formulated in the 19th century by the Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau from his experimental observations. Many patterns in nature are based on foams obeying these laws.
  • Plateau’s problem – In mathematics, Plateau’s problem is to show the existence of a minimal surface with a given boundary, a problem raised by Joseph-Louis Lagrange in 1760. However, it is named after Joseph Plateau who experimented with soap films. The problem is considered part of the calculus of variations.
  • Soap bubble – A soap bubble is an extremely thin film of soapy water enclosing air that forms a hollow sphere with an iridescent surface. Soap bubbles usually last for only a few seconds before bursting, either on their own or on contact with another object.
  • Stretched grid method – The stretched grid method is a numerical technique for finding approximate solutions of various mathematical and engineering problems that can be related to an elastic grid behavior.In particular, meteorologists use the stretched grid method for weather prediction and engineers use the stretched…
  • Flemish scientists
  • Belgian physicists
  • Blind academics
  • Ghent University faculty
  • University of Liège alumni
  • Fluid dynamicists
  • Foreign Members of the Royal Society

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Latest information about Joseph Plateau updated on September 14, 2020.

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