Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 465-467


Cornu, Marie Alfred

BornChâteauneux near Orléans, Loiret, France, 6 March 1841

DiedLa Chansonnerie near Romorantin, Loir-et-Cher, France, 12 April 1902

Cornu, Marie Alfred. Courtesy of History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries, Small Portraits Collection

French physicist Alfred Cornu is remembered for his precise determination of the speed of light, and for work in physical optics (especially on diffraction theory and ultraviolet spectroscopy). He was the son of François Cornu and Sophie Poinsellier.

Cornu attended the École Polytechnique in Paris between 1860 and 1862, finishing second in his class. Upon graduating, he obtained his mathematics Licence and his physics Licence the following year. Cornu was appointed répétiteur (demonstrator) at the École Polytechnique in 1864. He also attended the École des Mines (1862–1865), becoming an engineer of mines in 1866. Cornu then obtained his doctorate in the physical sciences in 1867 with a thesis on crystalline reflection and was subsequent ...

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