Jean Bernard Léon Foucault (French pronunciation: ) (18 September 1819 – 11 February 1868) was a French physicist best known for the invention of the Foucault pendulum, a device demonstrating the effect of the Earth's rotation. He also made an early measurement of the speed of light, discovered eddy currents, and although he didn't invent it, is credited with naming the gyroscope.
Foucault was the son of publisher in Paris, where he was born on September 18, 1819. After an education received chiefly at home, he studied medicine, which he abandoned in favour of physics due to a fear of blood. He first directed his attention to the improvement of L. J. M. Daguerre's photographic processes. For three years he was experimental assistant to Alfred Donné (1801–1878) in his course of lectures on microscopic anatomy.
With A. H. L. Fizeau he carried out a series of investigations on the intensity of the light of the sun, as compared with that of carbon in the arc lamp, and of lime in the flame of the oxyhydrogen blowpipe; on the interference of infrared radiation, and of light rays differing greatly in lengths of path; and on the chromatic polarization of light.