Person: Gerstner, František Josef
František Josef Gerstner was a Czech mathematician, astronomer and engineer. He is famed for transforming the Prague School of Engineers into the Prague Polytechnic Institute in 1806. It is now the Polytechnic University of Prague. He also produced a non-linear wave solution, known today as Gerstner waves or trochoidal waves.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- František is the Czech version of his forename while Franz is the German version.
- He became Ritter von Gerstner when he was elevated to the nobility in 1810.
- In 1772 Gerstner graduated from the Jesuit Gymnasium in Chomutov and entered the Faculty of Philosophy at the Charles-Ferdinand University in Prague to study mathematics and astronomy.
- In 1776 Gerstner passed his astronomy examination and in the following year he was examined in Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica Ⓣ(Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), again passing the public examination.
- Gerstner was an assistant of the director of the University Observatory, Maximilian Hell (1720-1792).
- In 1784 Gerstner was appointed as Strnad's senior assistant.
- When Gerstner's former teacher of higher mathematics, Jan Tesánek, fell ill in 1787, Gerstner provided him with careful care in his own apartment and at the same time taught Tesánek's students higher mathematics.
- Following Tesánek's death in 1788, Gerstner was employed as an assistant to take over his teaching commitments at the University of Prague.
- In 1799 Bolzano began undertaking research advised by Gerstner and was awarded a doctorate in 1804.
- One of their sons was Franz Anton Gerstner (11 May 1796 - 12 April 1840) who achieved fame as a civil engineer and railway pioneer.
- As a member of this commission, in 1798 Gerstner drafted a memorandum.
- Gerstner intended to set up a school providing two different types of courses, elementary and higher.
- Gerstner's higher course also covered the so-called professional sciences, based on industrial and generally technical studies.
- Gerstner's proposals, which were made at the time of the Napoleonic wars, did not find favour, so, in 1803, he made a second proposal involving converting the Prague School of Engineers, which had been founded in 1707, into a polytechnic school.
- Gerstner, however, did not give up on his original proposal and, with a change of emphasise to the more practical sides of the subjects, this was approved by decree on 22 August 1805.
- The Polytechnic Institute in Prague was officially opened on 10 November 1806 with Gerstner as its first director.
- We can also judge the success of Gerstner's concept of a polytechnic by the fact that over the following years many similar polytechnics were founded in cities across central Europe.
- In 1804 Gerstner published the book Theorie der Wellen: samt einer daraus abgeleiteten theorie der deichprofile Ⓣ(Theory of waves: together with a theory of dyke profiles derived from it).
- This contained a description of what today are known as Gerstner waves or trochoidal waves.
- In the Gerstner model, a water particle basically moves in a circle about a fixed point.
- Gerstner's flow is dynamically possible: each particle moves on a circle, but the particles never collide and fill out the entire region below the surface wave.
- Another important work by Gerstner is Handbuch der Mechanik Ⓣ(Manual of Mechanics ) in three volumes: 1.
- In 1807, Gerstner was commissioned by the Bohemian Hydrotechnical Society to calculate possible salt transport routes between Budweis and Linz and to draw up a transport route solution with cost estimates.
- Also in 1808, Franz Joseph Gerstner was awarded the Austrian Order of Leopold and he was elevated to the hereditary nobility in 1810.
- The 30 haler stamp had a portrait of Josef Bozek (1782-1835), the 60 haler stamp had a portrait of F J Gerstner, the 1 koruna stamp had a portrait of J Skuhersky, and the 1.40 koruna stamp had a picture of the School of Engineering building.
- In 2006, the Czech Republic issued an 11 koruna stamp for František Josef Gerstner.
Born 23 February 1756, Chomutov, Bohemia, now Czech Republic. Died 25 July 1832, Mladejov, Bohemia, now Czech Republic.
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Origin Czech Republic
Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive