A sickly child, a poor student, and a medical school dropout, Léon Foucault seemed an unlikely candidate for greatness. But his ingenious experiment—simple, beautiful, and stunningly original—changed how we see the world.
Scientists knew that the earth turned on its axis. But how could they prove it? Countless experiments had been tried . . . and had failed. Then, one historic day in Paris, Léon Foucault gave a magnificent demonstration that offered the proof everyone had been looking for.
Discover the improbable story of the man behind the famous Foucault’s Pendulum.
A 19th-century figure formerly relegated to entries in collective biographies at last gets his due in a solo picture-book biography. The pendulum that bears his name, designed as proof that Earth spins on its axis, is still regarded as one of the most elegant scientific demonstrations ever. Despite this and other technical achievements, however, Foucault spent most of his short life outside the French scientific establishment. Why? A lack of advanced academic credentials for one thing, suggests Mortensen in her matter-of-fact narrative and more detailed afterword–but also, without making a direct claim, she points to evidence that he may have suffered from a spectrum disorder. Allén's digitally finished paintings mix sequential panels and larger tableaus to depict a frail, thoughtful-looking young man working alone in a tidy, shadowy workshop or showing his latest invention to small groups of marveling onlookers. Readers will marvel too, at the genius of this little-known scientific wizard. John Peters, New York Public Library
—School Library Journal
Foucault was small and slow moving as a child, but he had a clever mind. Drawn to science as an adult, he made an incredible discovery, one that would allow him to prove the unprovable—that the Earth does indeed spin on an axis. Mortensen's prose infuses this small scientific drama with remarkable tension, while Allén's dramatically lit paintings, often organized into elegant panels, have a cinematic quality and amplify the action even further. It should enchant not only science lovers but any child who has felt awkward and dreamed big.