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Particularly cool is to see how Fresnel fully understood that light is somehow polarized, even though he did not know that it was made out of electromagnetism, clear indication of which only came with the Faraday effect in 1845.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century the only known way to generate polarized light was with a calcite crystal. In 1808, using a calcite crystal, Malus discovered that natural incident light became polarized when it was reflected by a glass surface, and that the light reflected close to an angle of incidence of 57° could be extinguished when viewed through the crystal. He then proposed that natural light consisted of the s- and p-polarizations, which were perpendicular to each other.