Person: Bouguer, Pierre
Pierre Bouguer was a French surveyor who took part in an expedition to South America to calculate the size of a degree of latitude.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Jean Boutroux died when Pierre was fifteen years old and so his professorship of hydrography became vacant.
- The Académie Royale des Sciences further honoured Bouguer when he was elected as an associate in the mathematics section in 1731 and then, in 1735, he was elected to full membership.
- In April 1735 Bouguer set out on an expedition, organised by the Académie Royale des Sciences, to Peru to measure the length of a degree of meridian at the equator.
- The three finished their journey to their destination by different routes, Bouguer and Godin sailing to Quito, while La Condamine went overland from Manta.
- Godin began to work on his own while Bouguer worked with La Condamine.
- Bouguer was the first to attempt to measure the density of the Earth using the deflection of a plumb line due to the attraction of a mountain.
- In 1741 Bouguer discovered a small error in the joint measurements made with La Condamine to determine the length of a degree of meridian.
- Bouguer wrote on naval manoeuvres and navigation and, in ship design, derived a formula for calculating the metacentric radius (a measure of ship stability).
- This work contains Bouguer's second great discovery relating to light, namely Bouguer's law.
Born 16 February 1698, Le Croisic, France. Died 15 August 1758, Paris, France.
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive