Who first measured the velocity of light?

A. Einstein
B. Newton
C. Ole Roemer
D. Galileo
E. None of above

Check Answer

The correct answer is C) Ole Roemer.

The first measurement of the velocity of light was made by the Danish astronomer, Ole Roemer. In 1675, he used the eclipses of Jupiter’s moon Io to make a crude estimate of the speed of light. Roemer observed that the time between eclipses of Io by Jupiter varied depending on the position of Earth in its orbit around the sun. He realized that this was due to the fact that light took longer to reach Earth when Earth was farther away from Jupiter, and he used this observation to estimate that the speed of light was around 140,000 miles per second.

Roemer’s estimate was quite accurate considering the technology and methods available at the time, but it would be later improved by the observations of other scientists like James Bradley, Armand Fizeau, Hippolyte Fizeau, Léon Foucault, etc.

It’s also worth mentioning that, Newton believed that light was made up of particles (corpuscles) and that it traveled instantaneously. He did not attempt to measure the velocity of light, instead, he focused on the properties of light and color, his work was not in line with the wave nature of light, that would be proposed by the work of many scientists like Thomas Young, Augustin-Jean Fresnel and Jean-Baptiste Biot and later confirmed by the experiments of James Clerk Maxwell and others.
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