Why this book?
Fresnel lenses, invented by Frenchman Augustin Fresnel, are the crown jewels of lighthouse illumination. They not only greatly increased the intensity of the light, as compared with earlier forms of lighting, but also became one of the most important and strikingly beautiful inventions of the nineteenth century. Levitt’s luminous prose and great skill at storytelling makes this a fascinating and compelling read. It will make you look at lighthouses and Fresnel lenses with a well-deserved measure of awe.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
Augustin Fresnel (1788-1827) shocked the scientific elite with his view of the physics of light. The lens he invented was a feat of engineering that made lighthouses blaze many times brighter, further and more efficiently than they had before. As secretary of France's Lighthouse Commission, he planned and oversaw the lighting of the nation's coast. Although Fresnel died young, his brother Leonor presided over the spread of the new technology around the globe. The new lights were of strategic importance in navigation and the Fresnel legacy played an important role in geopolitical events. Levitt's scientific and historical account, rich in…