THE FATHERS OF THE SCIENCE – Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace (1749 – 1827)
Pierre-Simon, marquis de Laplace (1749 – 1827)
He was a French mathematician and astronomer whose work was pivotal to the development of mathematical astronomy and statistics. He summarized and extended the work of his predecessors in his five volume Mécanique Céleste (Celestial Mechanics) (1799–1825). This work translated the geometric study of classical mechanics to one based on calculus, opening up a broader range of problems. In statistics, the so-called Bayesian interpretation of probability was mainly developed by Laplace.
He formulated Laplace’s equation, and pioneered the Laplace transform which appears in many branches of mathematical physics, a field that he took a leading role in forming. The Laplacian differential operator, widely used in applied mathematics, is also named after him.
He restated and developed the nebular hypothesis of the origin of the solar system and was one of the first scientists to postulate the existence of black holes and the notion of gravitational collapse.
He is remembered as one of the greatest scientists of all time, sometimes referred to as a French Newton or Newton of France, with a phenomenal natural mathematical faculty superior to any of his contemporaries.
He became a count of the First French Empire in 1806 and was named a marquis in 1817, after the Bourbon Restoration.