Questions tagged [18th-century]

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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, that it is very hard to find modern ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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3 votes
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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 ...
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1 answer
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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0 answers
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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 ...
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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. ...
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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? ...
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10 votes
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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 ...
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2 answers
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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 ...
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5 votes
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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15 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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18 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
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