Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau was born on 14th October, 1801 in Brussels. He was the son of a flower painter. His father Antoine Plateau wanted him to have an artistic career as he was also a great artist and had a great talent of flower painting.
Plateau did his schooling from Brussels itself. He was very intelligent and excelled in his studies. He took an active part in gaining knowledge and was so bright that he became the child prodigy (one who below the age of 10 who produces some meaningful new concept in some particular domain as an expert). He was very much attracted towards the experiments and certain observations and did further studies in physics also.
He received a great setback when he was just a small child of fourteen years that his father died. He became an orphan as his mother died only one year earlier from his father. He could not overcome from this big bruise and this incident made him fall ill.
After a little recovery, he started with his studies again and joined Athenaeum in Brussels to pursue his higher education in 1817. He completed his higher education in 1822 and rather than entering into the much higher degree of education, he took a path of the job as he was the only child to look after his sisters who were also left alone after their parents’ death. So, to earn, Plateau started teaching mathematics at the Athenaeum school in Brussels itself. Further, besides teaching, he continued with his studies and entered the University of Liège in 1829. He secured the degree for the doctor of physics and mathematical sciences from there.
Plateau was very intelligent and had a very keen interest in finding conclusions and studying on some particular topics. He submitted his dissertation for the doctorate degree in 1829 to his mentor. His mentor was Adolphe Quetelet who was a Belgian astronomer. It had a few pages but a number of important conclusions. The dissertation contained only 27 pages. He gave significant conclusions which are still known as his accomplishments. He witnessed the effect of colors, duration, and intensity on the retina. He also concluded on the intersection of revolving curves known to be locus in geometry. One of the major conclusions included the distortions of the moving images. He also included the conclusions on anorthoscopic discs which demonstrated an optical illusion that turned an anamorphic picture on a disc into a normal image when the disc was spun fast. These were his dissertation conclusions and findings. Giving his findings on the effect of colors on the retina, he conducted an experiment in which he continuously stared at the sun for 25 seconds in 1829. Further in his life, he lost his eyesight in 1841.
In 1832, Plateau invented a device which made him famous and that was very helpful for further new inventions. He invented an instrument that was used to make a cyclically moving object appear to be slightly stationary (Stroboscopic device) that was named as “Phenakistiscope” (a device that created a fluent illusion of motion). It included different several discs and continuously displaying images. Hence the device gave an animated effect. With this device and the discs and other smaller objects used in it, later the concept of films was developed i.e. Cinema.