Pierre-Simon Laplace

Urbain Le Verrier and the hypothetical Planet Vulcan

Urbain Le Verrier and the hypothetical Planet Vulcan

On 2 January 1860, French astronomer Urbain Le Verrier announced the discovery of Vulcan, a hypothetical planet inside the Mercury orbit, to a meeting of the Académie des Sciences in Paris. Despite the lack of any reliable observation, Le Verrier really was convinced until his death that he had discovered a new planet. It was Einstein’s special theory of relativity and a completely new understanding of the laws of gravity that modified the predicted…
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Modern Chemistry started with Antoine Lavoisier

Modern Chemistry started with Antoine Lavoisier

On August 26, 1743, French nobleman and chemist Antoine Laurent de Lavoisier was born. De Lavoisier is considered as one of the fathers of modern chemistry. “We must trust to nothing but facts: These are presented to us by Nature, and cannot deceive. We ought, in every instance, to submit our reasoning to the test of experiment, and never to search for truth but by the natural road of experiment and observation.”…
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The Important Theorem of Thomas Bayes

The Important Theorem of Thomas Bayes

On April 17, 1761, English mathematician and Presbyterian minister Thomas Bayes passed away. He is best known as name giver of the Bayes’ theorem, of which he had developed a special case. It expresses (in the Bayesian interpretation) how a subjective degree of belief should rationally change to account for evidence, and finds application in in fields including science, engineering, economics (particularly microeconomics), game theory, medicine and law. “[My favourite fellow of the…
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Pierre Simon de Laplace and his true love for Astronomy and Mathematics

Pierre Simon de Laplace and his true love for Astronomy and Mathematics

On March 28, 1749, French mathematician and astronomer Pierre Simon marquis de Laplace was born, whose work was pivotal to the development of mathematical astronomy and statistics. One of his major achievements was the conclusion of the five-volume Mécanique Céleste (Celestial Mechanics) which translated the geometric study of classical mechanics to one based on calculus, opening up a broader range of problems. “One sees, from this Essay, that the theory of probabilities…
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Jean Bailly and the Orbit of Halley’s Comet

Jean Bailly and the Orbit of Halley’s Comet

On September 15, 1736, French astronomer, mathematician, freemason, and political leader of the early part of the French Revolution Jean Sylvain Bailly was born. Bailly computed an orbit for Halley’s Comet (1759) and studied the four satellites of Jupiter then known. He was the first Mayor of Paris and presided over the Tennis Court Oath. Jean Sylvain Bailly came from a family of artists. His father was an artist and supervisor of the…
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James Jeans and the Theory of Continuous Creation

James Jeans and the Theory of Continuous Creation

On September 11, 1877, English physicist, astronomer and mathematician James Hopwood Jeans was born. Jeans was the first to propose that matter is continuously created throughout the universe. He made other innovations in astronomical theory but is perhaps best known as a writer of popular books about astronomy. “The stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.…
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Siméon Denis Poisson’s Contributions to Mathematics

Siméon Denis Poisson’s Contributions to Mathematics

On June 21, 1781, French mathematician, geometer, and physicist Siméon Denis Poisson was born. He is known known for his work on definite integrals, advances in Fourier series, electromagnetic theory, and probability, esp. the eponymous Poisson series, the Poisson integral and the Poisson equation from potential theory. His works also included applications to electricity and magnetism, and astronomy. Poisson was born in Pithiviers, Loiret, the son of soldier Siméon Poisson, who after retiring…
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Andrey Markov and the Markov Chains

Andrey Markov and the Markov Chains

On June 14, 1856, Russian mathematician Andrey (Andrei) Andreyevich Markov was born. He is best known for his work on stochastic processes. A primary subject of his research later became known as Markov chains and Markov processes, i.e. sequences of random variables in which the future variable is determined by the present variable but is independent of the way in which the present state arose from its predecessors. I guess, as long as…
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Joseph Nicollet and the Upper Mississippi River

Joseph Nicollet and the Upper Mississippi River

On July 24, 1786, French geographer, astronomer, and mathematician Joseph Nicolas Nicollet was born. He is best known for mapping the Upper Mississippi River basin during the 1830s. Nicollet’s maps were among the most accurate of the time and they provided the basis for all subsequent maps of the American interior Jean-Nicolas Nicollet was born in Cluses, Savoy, France. He was very bright, showing aptitude in mathematics and astronomy that earned him a scholarship to…
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Augustin-Louis Cauchy and the Rigor of Analysis

Augustin-Louis Cauchy and the Rigor of Analysis

On August 21, 1789, French mathematician Augustin-Louis Cauchy was born. He is considered one of the greatest mathematicians during the nineteenth century. There are 16 concepts and theorems named for Cauchy, more than for any other mathematician. Cauchy was one of the most prolific mathematicians of all times. Cauchy wrote 789 papers, a quantity exceeded only by Euler and Cayley, which brought precision and rigor to mathematics. Actually, Cauchy was one of…
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