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Christiaan Huygens (16291695)

Most people are familiar with the 12-tone scale. The Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens developed a 31 tone scale! Some musicians still use this scale today.

Huygens was born into a fairly wealthy Dutch family, although he spent much of his life in Paris. At one stage he held a position in the French Academie Royale des Sciences while France was invading Holland.

Huygens developed his 'wave' theory of light while he was in Paris, and showed how it could explain much of the behaviour of light including refraction. However there were many aspects of light that he was not able to explain, so most scientists were not convinced by his theory.

Illustration of light 'pulses'
magnifyIllustration of light 'pulses'

Christiaan Huygens
magnifyChristiaan Huygens

31 tone scale organ
magnify31 tone scale organ

Saturn, imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope
magnifySaturn, imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope
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