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Questions tagged [18th-century]

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What sort of science is satirized in Hogarth's Weighing House?

William Hogarth produced the satirical etching "The Weighing House" in 1763. What is the background to this? What aspect of science was Hogarth being satirical about? What was the ...
Hugh's user avatar
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5 votes
0 answers
49 views

How did de Jussieu or Linnaeus practically manage the organization of plants?

In 18th century botany, how did taxonomists such as Carl Linnaeus (Sweden) and Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu (France) manage to practically organize such a large number of plant species? For example, ...
Sam Gallagher's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
72 views

Data that motivated early discussions about the mean and about error distributions

The way in which scientists should deal with errors in observations of natural phenomena was a subject of much debate over a period of about 150 years between around 1720 and 1870. The history is well ...
CrimsonDark's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
126 views

Could Newton have come up with General Relativity? [closed]

I was reading this question. There I read somewhere that he would have discovered modern physics if he had studied electromagnetism and nuclear physics. It was most likely in jest. But I ask How much ...
Alfredo's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
100 views

How sensitive was the frog galvanoscope?

Frog galvanoscope is an instrument for detecting small voltages, made of a frog's leg. Wikipedia notes: The instrument is capable of detecting extremely small voltages, and could far surpass other ...
jpa's user avatar
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7 votes
4 answers
3k views

Have all of Euler's works been translated?

I am interested in reading Euler's works. The Euler Archive contains some translated works but not all of them. I am just checking here to see if anyone know a complete translation of all of Euler's ...
Hisham's user avatar
  • 429
7 votes
1 answer
707 views

Entry 97 in Gauss's diary and the status of "lunar parallax" in the late 18th century

Pp. 539-542 of volume 10-1 of Gauss's werke include entry 97 in Gauss's diary: I have found new exact formulas for the parallax of the Moon. as well as the formulas themselves (which were rather ...
user2554's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
186 views

Reference request: modern assesement of J.H. Lambert's work on the "fluidity of sand"

While reading about different aspects of Johann Heinrich Lambert's life and work, I found many interesting side remarks about Lambert's work by different authors, though it is very hard to find modern ...
user2554's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
153 views

The housing of the Cavendish Experiment

[I posted this to History, but it was suggested that History of Science and Mathematics would be a better choice. So I'm posting it here too.] I’m working to build the Cavendish experiment of 1798 ...
zeynel's user avatar
  • 305
2 votes
1 answer
125 views

Who introduced the stream function?

I have found many different claimed answers to this question: Wikipedia article on the stream function claims that Lagrange introduced it in 1781. Darrigol's The Worlds of Flow says that D'Alambert ...
timur's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
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Complex potential in E227?

I have a reason to believe that Euler introduced the complex potential in his Continuation des recherches sur la theorie du mouvement does fluides, published in 1757. However, I am having hard time ...
timur's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
171 views

Who introduced velocity potential?

Wikipedia cites John Anderson’s A History of Aerodynamics and says that velocity potential was introduced by Lagrange in 1788. However, I could trace it at least to Euler 1752, where he published his ...
timur's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
131 views

What does "in-4o" mean in this French collection from 1768?

In the Memoires de l'Academie Royale de Prusse tome 1. from 1768, a summary of articles from the "Royal Society of Prussia" (the Königliche Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin Academy, or ...
Sam Gallagher's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
133 views

What did Louis XV actually call Charles Messier?

Charles Messier is know for his catalog of nebulae, but his topic of interest was actually comets. This document states that Louis XV nicknamed him the "ferret of comets" But I assume that ...
usernumber's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
110 views

What books did Lavoisier read?

I am interested in Antoine Lavoisier's intellectual formation/background. Is there any available list of the books which Antoine Lavoisier read, especially ones on science/mathematics/philosophy (even ...
AlexM's user avatar
  • 11
2 votes
1 answer
115 views

Lunar distance measurement reference

While preparing trigonometric exercises for my students, I learned that, in 1771, French astronomers determined the distance of the Moon from the Earth by measuring the appropriate angles from both ...
Geoff's user avatar
  • 123
3 votes
1 answer
483 views

Did Euler produce any Russian text?

According to Wikipedia, Euler (1707-1783) "mastered Russian and settled into life in Saint Petersburg" in 1727. Did he produce any text in Russian, either mathematical or personal? On The ...
Leaky Nun's user avatar
  • 219
1 vote
0 answers
120 views

Where was statistics taught in the 17th and 18th centuries?

Here is a fragment from Anders Hald's A History of Probability and Statistics and Their Applications before 1750: The original meaning of statistics is thus a collection of facts of interest to a ...
Pedro's user avatar
  • 191
3 votes
1 answer
525 views

When did mathematicians suspect that $\pi$ is irrational?

The title says it all. The irrationality of $\pi$ was proved by Lambert in the 18th century, but the Greeks at the time of Pythagoras already knew that $\sqrt2$ and the golden ratio were irrational. ...
Frunobulax's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
522 views

What was the first "scientific", non-photographic depiction of Earth as seen from outside of Earth?

For a long time now, I've been thinking about this: when was the first painting, illustration or depiction of any kind where our planet Earth is seen as a sphere in space? Possibly even from the Moon? ...
Minhquan R.'s user avatar
26 votes
1 answer
4k views

How was Lagrange appointed professor of mathematics so early?

It is well-known that in 1755 Lagrange was appointed Professor of Mathematics at the Royal Artillery School in Turin. He was 19. His work up until then involves correspondence with Euler. Was he ...
Rain's user avatar
  • 559
10 votes
1 answer
292 views

What was the scientific explanation of earthquakes in the 18th century?

I'd like to know what western scientists thought about the causes of earthquakes in the mid to late 18th century (especially pertaining to the one in Lisbon in 1755). I've read that the ancient Greeks ...
swit's user avatar
  • 203
2 votes
2 answers
236 views

18th century childbirth — does anyone know anything about the tools or process?

I am starting a PhD on childbirth in the 18th century and was scheduled to meet a doctor of medicine who specialised in 18th medicine and history. However, this has fallen through and I really wanted ...
user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
388 views

Why did pre-17th century mathematics mostly come from Italy but later mathematics came from France, Germany and England?

The Renaissance created a number of prominent mathematicians. However, later in the 18th and especially 19th century, Germany and France became the hot centers of mathematical thinking.
Shuheng Zheng's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
548 views

When William Herschel discovered Uranus, who else at the time had a comparable telescope?

William Herschel built a big telescope and observed Uranus in 1781. I'm trying to figure out who else had a comparable telescope at the time, who could verify these observations? Apparently Johan ...
DrZ214's user avatar
  • 861
5 votes
2 answers
221 views

Why were the first steam engines “atmospheric engines”

Anybody who has boiled water knows that a positive pressure builds up when steam is produced. Indeed the first conceptual design of a steam engine (the Aeolipile) was a "positive pressure" engine. The ...
Miguel's user avatar
  • 51
5 votes
2 answers
2k views

What was the reason for the immense progress of mathematics in 18th century?

The 18th century had sought a huge, immense progress in mathematics. As late as 17th century people still wrote algebraic equations with words. But by the end of 18th century we had Mathematical ...
Anixx's user avatar
  • 652
15 votes
4 answers
628 views

Why were 18th century mathematicians interested in extending the factorial to non-integers?

As far as I understand, the Gamma function was developped as a way of calculating "the" factorial of a non-integer number. Why did this problem interest 18th century mathematicians? Was it just a ...
Jack M's user avatar
  • 3,129
15 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why did 18th century writers think that Mars had 2 satellites?

At least two 18th century writers wrote that Mars has two satellites: Swift in Gulliver's travels (1726) and Voltaire in Micromégas (1752). How did they guess this? Was Voltaire repeating Swift's ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
18 votes
2 answers
2k views

Was 18th century algebra more symbolic/formal than the modern conception?

I've found Lagrange's Sur la résolution des équations algébriques to be a very confusing and difficult read, and I think I'm starting to see why: it seems that Lagrange thinks of algebra in a much ...
Jack M's user avatar
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