Brewster, Sir David, 1781–1868, Scottish physicist and natural philosopher. He is noted especially for his research into the polarization of light (the invention of the kaleidoscope was one result of his studies). He improved the spectroscope and persuaded the British government to adopt his dioptric system of lighthouse illumination. For 21 years Brewster was principal of the United College of St. Salvator and St. Leonard, in St. Andrews, Scotland, and in 1859 he became principal of the Univ. of Edinburgh. Included in his numerous writings are A Treatise on Optics (1831) and Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton (1855).
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