François Arago: A 19th Century French Humanist and Pioneer by James Lequeux

By James Lequeux

François Arago, the 1st to teach in 1810 that the skin of the solar and stars is made up of incandescent fuel and never sturdy or liquid, was once a trendy physicist of the nineteenth century. He used his significant effect to assist Fresnel, Ampere and others improve their principles and make themselves identified. This e-book covers his own contributions to physics, astronomy, geodesy and oceanography, that are faraway from negligible, yet insufficiently recognized. Arago used to be additionally an enormous and influential political guy who, for instance, abolished slavery within the French colonies. one of many final humanists, he had a truly huge tradition and diversity of pursuits. In parallel to his biography, this name additionally covers the brilliant progresses of technological know-how on the time of Arago, specifically in France: the beginning of actual optics, electromagnetism and thermodynamics. Francois Arago’s lifestyles is an engaging epic story that reads as a novel.

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For the entrance examination, which consisted only of an oral test in mathematics, Arago studied “the newest books that I obtained from Paris,” in particular one by Adrien-Marie Legendre (1752–1833). The first trial was canceled due to the illness of the examiner who should have come to Montpellier to interview the candidates. The following year, 1803, when he took the test again, Arago had time to study the works of Leonhard Euler (1707–1783) and of Louis de Lagrange (1736–1813), as well as the Mécanique céleste of Laplace.

Napoléon thanked his friend with affection. But he made him understand, not without difficulty, that a septuagenarian would not withstand such a perilous venture. 11 *Mémoires de l’Académie des sciences 24, p. I–CLVII, also in *Arago, F. Œuvres complètes, t. 2, p. 427–592. The Time of Major Scientific Activity (1809–1830) 37 One then called a much younger scientist [who evidently was Arago]. Monge exposed to his colleague with considerable persuasion how glorious the proposition was by its purpose, and even more because of the position of the illustrious person who made it.

He recommended that full-time research positions be created, but with little success. He was probably thinking of his friend Ampère, a bright scientist but a poor teacher. After his great discoveries on electromagnetism, to earn a living Ampère had to take a position of inspector of education, for which he was not suited and which took up time better spent on research. Publications After 1665, the date of the founding of the Journal des sçavans, the French scientists could publish their results in specialized journals.

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