He studied law and later became one of the most popular Belgian scientists of the nineteenth century.
To date, he is remembered for his work on physiological optics, particularly for the study on the effects of light and color on the human retina.
His doctoral dissertation explained how images form on the retina, how long they last, their color and intensity.
Based on the conclusions of his study, Plateau created a stroboscopic device in 1832 with two discs fitted in opposite directions.
One of the discs was filled with small windows spaced evenly in a circle. The other disc had a series of pictures of a dancer. When the two discs moved at the right speed, the images appeared to merge and created the illusion of a dancer in motion.
He lost his vision later in life. However, it did not stop him from having a productive career in science. He continued to work as a professor of experimental physics at Ghent University with the help of his son and son-in-law, who were also his colleagues.￼ were also his colleagues.