Publication

  • Louis L. Bucciarelli
  • Nancy Dworsky
Part of the Studies in the History of Modern Science book series (SHMS, volume 6)

Abstract

In 1816, Sophie Germain found herself in a new position. She had spent five years in almost single-minded concentration on the plate problem and had been awarded the prix extraordinaire. On the one hand, this gave her a sense of professional standing, authority, and self-esteem. She had been the one — for a while the only one — doing fruitful work in the investigation of the elastic behavior of surfaces; now her work had won a measure of public recognition.

Keywords

Mold Assure Expense Biot Fermat 

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Chapter Eight: Publication

  1. 1.
    P.V. vol. 5, p. 595. (Session of 26 December, 1815). Legendre, Laplace, Poisson, Delambre, and Lacroix comprised the commission which set the subject of this competition.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For a full description of Sophie Germain’s contribution see Edwards, H. M.: 1977, Fermat’s Last Theorem, Springer-Verlag, New York. pp. 61–65.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Legendre, A. M.: 1827, ‘Recherches sur quelques objets d’analyse indeterminée et particulièrment sur le théorème de Fermat’, Mém. Acad. Royal des Sci. de l’Institut de France 6.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Joseph Fourier, (1768–1830), jailed on two occasions during the years of revolution, assistant lecturer in mathematics at the Ecole Polytechnique in 1795, accompanied Napoleon on his ill-fated voyage to Egypt. He was appointed Prefect of the department of Isère in 1801, made a baron in 1808, and, although able to visit Paris only rarely, composed his now-classic treatise on the conduction of heat in solids during this period. In the aftermath of Napoleon’s reclamation of power in 1815, he was made Prefect of the Rhône, but for reasons that are not entirely clear, was relieved of his position within a few months. He then moved to Paris in order to devote himself full-time to mathematical pursuits. On his arrival, he might have been able to receive the recognition of several members of the Institute, but he had no job and little money. See Herival, J. W.: 1975, Joseph Fourier, The Man and the Physicist, Clarendon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Also Arago, F.: 1838, ‘Eloge historique de Joseph Fourier’, Mém. de l’Acad, des Sciences 14, lxix–cxxxviii. (English translation in Smyth, W. H., et al: 1857, Biographies of Distinguished Scientific Men, Longmans, London, pp.242–286.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Bibliothèque Nationale. MS. Fr. (Nouv. Acq.) 4073. Also in Henry, C: 1879, ‘Les manuscrits de Sophie Germain — documents nouveaux’, Revue phil. 8, p. 630. While May 2nd fell on a Thursday in 1822 as well as in 1816, the introductory tone of this letter suggests the latter date. The subject of the engraving is unknown — perhaps it was Euler.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Bibliothèque Nationale, MS. Fr. (Nouv. Acq.) 4073, Also in Henry, C, op. cit., p. 629.Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    Arago, F.: 1838, op. cit., lxxii.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    Bibliothèque Nationale, MS. Fr. 9118. Also in Stupuy, op. cit., p. 318. 13 Ibid., p. 323.Google Scholar
  10. 15.
    Bibliothèque Nationale, MS. Fr. 9118. Also in Stupuy, op. cit., p. 324.Google Scholar
  11. 16.
    Bibliothèque Nationale, MS. Fr. (Nouv. Acq.) 4073. Also appearing in Henry, C, op. cit., p. 627. but with the year of this letter given as 1825. Clearly this is a misprint; in MS. 4073 it appears as 1821 and, furthermore. Delambre had died in 1822.Google Scholar
  12. 17.
    Germain, S.: 1821. Reserches sur la théorie des surfaces élastiques, Mme. V. Courcier, Paris.Google Scholar
  13. 18.
    Bibliothèque Nationale, MS. Fr. 9118. Also in Stupuy, op. cit., p. 312. While June 1 fell on a Thursday in 1826 as well as in 1820, by 1825 Fourier’s penmanship had deteriorated. This letter was written with a steady hand.Google Scholar
  14. 19.
    Bibliothèque Nationale, MS. Fr. (Nouv. Acq.) 4073. Also in Henry, C, op. cit., p. 628.Google Scholar
  15. 20.
    Ibid., p. 631. December 6 fell on a Wednesday in 1826 as well as in 1820, but Sophie Germain’s mother had died in 1823.Google Scholar
  16. 21.
    Germain, S.: 1821, op. cit.Google Scholar
  17. 23.
    Germain, S.: 1821, op. cit.Google Scholar
  18. 24.
  19. 25.
    Ibid. Poisson had another notion of what an appropriate, all-powerful hypothesis was, namely that of ‘sensible forces at insensible distances’.Google Scholar
  20. 26.
    Bibliothèque Nationale, MS. Fr. 9118. Also in Stupuy, op. cit., p. 316.Google Scholar
  21. 27.
    Ibid., p. 317.Google Scholar
  22. 28.
    Ibid., p. 315.Google Scholar
  23. 29.
    Stupuy, op. cit., p. 313.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis L. Bucciarelli
    • 1
  • Nancy Dworsky
    • 1
  1. 1.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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