The lives of Malus and his bicentennial law

Bart Kahr, Kacey Claborn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


(Figure Presented) Étienne-Louis Malus (see picture) serendipitously discovered the polarization of light by reflection nearly 200 years ago. The conditions of the re-creation of his benchmark experiment are analyzed. Malus' biography is arranged around the diary he kept in Egypt as an engineer in Bonaparte's army. His experiences in war are sadly relevant. The legacies of Malus are considered, including the continued reexamination of the indispensable law that bears his name.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-58
Number of pages16
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 11 2008


  • History of science
  • Iceland spar
  • Malus' law
  • Polarized light
  • Étienne-Louis Malus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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