Thomas Young (1773-1829) was an English scientist, physician and Egyptologist. He made important contributions toward deciphering the Rosetta Stone, has been called the father of physiological optics, and has made other significant contributions in the history of ideas,¹ but he’s remembered most for conducting the famous double slit experiment in 1803.
In 1905 the view of light as energy was challenged or, perhaps, better said, confounded by the Hungarian-German Nazi Philipp Lenard, whose own experiments demonstrated that light also behaves like a particle, which is normally understood as a unit of matter.
Until this point in Western intellectual history, a history that Richard Nisbett² and others say is almost obsessively concerned with rational categories, matter and energy were thought to be entirely different because, according to previously available observational frameworks, matter behaved differently than energy.
Since the discovery of the apparent duality of light as matter and energy, however, an entirely new series of experiments and theories have arisen about the enigmatic “stuff” of the universe.
This search includes what physicists have recently called the “God Particle” (Higgs boson). If its existence is confirmed, this would apparently resolve some inconsistencies in theoretical physics, as it now stands.
² Richard E. Nisbett, The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently… and Why. New York: The Free Press, 2003.