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Daniel Bernoulli

Daniel Bernoulli

The Swiss mathematician and physicist Daniel Bernoulli (1700-1782) is best known for his work on hydrodynamics, but he also did pioneering work on the kinetic theory of gases.

Daniel Bernoulli was born on Jan. 29, 1700, in Gröningen, Netherlands. He was the second son of Jean Bernoulli, a noted mathematician who began the use of "g" for the acceleration of gravity.

When Daniel was 11, he became the pupil of his 16-year-old brother, Nicholas. He continued his studies in Italy until he was 24 and received a doctorate in medicine. The following year he went to St. Petersburg, Russia, as a professor of mathematics. After 8 years he returned to Switzerland because of his health. He first taught anatomy and botany, then changed to experimental and speculative philosophy (or, in modern terminology, theoretical physics). He has been called the father of mathematical physics.

In 1738 Bernoulli published Hydrodynamica. In this treatise, which was far in advance of his time in many ways, is his famous equation governing the flow of fluids in terms of speed, pressure, and potential energy, upon which much modern technology is based, especially aerodynamics. Being interested in practical application as well as in theory, he devised a number of experiments which demonstrated the effects he predicted.

In this treatise is also found his remarkable treatment of gas pressure. Considering an enclosed gas as a swarm of moving particles in dynamic equilibrium, he derived the correct expression for the resulting pressure, thus anticipating the approach adopted about 100 years later.

Bernoulli won or shared 10 prizes of the Paris Academy of Sciences, a feat equaled by only one other person, his friend and rival Leonhard Euler. Because of a difference of opinion with Euler, Bernoulli became interested in sound phenomena and discovered that a closed organ pipe can produce only odd harmonics and that pressure determines the relative amplitudes of the harmonics. His last work involved the application of probability theory to various practical matters, such as inoculation and relative proportion of male and female births. He died in Basel on March 17, 1782.

Further Reading

Information on Bernoulli in English is scarce. E. T. Bell, Men of Mathematics (1937) and The Development of Mathematics (1940; 2d ed. 1945), are valuable. See also Alfred Hooper, Makers of Mathematics (1948), and David E. Smith, History of Mathematics, vol. 1 (1951). □

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Bernoulli, Daniel (1700-1782)

Bernoulli, Daniel (1700-1782)

Dutch-born Swiss physicist

Daniel Bernoulli's work on fluids pioneered the sciences of hydrodynamics and aerodynamics . Born in the Netherlands and spending most of his life in Switzerland, Bernoulli was one of a large family of scientists and mathematicians that included his father, Jean Bernoulli, and uncle, Jacques Bernoulli.

Ignoring his family's pleas to enter the world of business, Bernoulli pursued a degree in medicine and then, after graduation, a career as a professor of mathematics. He began teaching in 1725 at a college in St. Petersburg, Russia, eventually returning to Switzerland in 1732. While a professor at the University of Basel, he became the first scientist outside of Great Britain to fully accept Newtonian physics . It was also here that Bernoulli performed the research on fluid behavior that would make him famous.

The 1738 publication Hydrodynamica developed the prominent theories of hydrodynamics, or the movement of water . Paramount among these was the fact that, as the velocity of a fluid increases, the pressure surrounding it will decrease. Called Bernoulli's principle , this pressure drop was also shown to occur in moving air, and it is the reason boats and planes experience lift as water or air passes around them. This effect is easily shown by blowing between two pieces of paper; the drop in pressure will cause the papers to bend toward each other. Bernoulli's research marked the first attempt to explain the connection pressure and temperature have with the behavior of gas and fluids.

Bernoulli's experiments with fluids caused him to devise a series of hypotheses about the nature of gases. He was certainly one of the first to formulate principles dealing with gases as groups of particles, which later became the basis for atomic theories. As groundbreaking as this work was, it was paid little attention by his peers, and subsequently it was nearly a century before the atomic theory rose again.

See also Atmospheric pressure; Atomic theory; Hydrostatic pressure

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Bernoulli, Daniel

Bernoulli, Daniel (1700–82) A Swiss mathematician (one of 11 eminent mathematicians his family produced over four generations), whose most important work was in the field of hydrodynamics. In his book Hydrodynamica (1738), he showed that the pressure within a flowing fluid depends inversely on its velocity (the greater the velocity, the lower the pressure). This is now known as Bernoulli's principle (see BERNOULLI EQUATION). Bernoulli was born at Groningen, the Netherlands, and educated at Basel, Switzerland, where his father had been appointed professor of mathematics on the death of his brother (Daniel's uncle) who held the post previously. Daniel obtained his master's degree at the age of 16 and his doctorate, on the action of the lungs, at 21. In 1725 he was appointed professor of mathematics at St Petersburg Academy, Russia, but left Russia in 1732. In 1733 he became professor of anatomy and botany at the University of Basel; in 1750 he became professor of natural philosophy, a post he held until his retirement in 1777. He died in Basel.

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Bernoulli, Daniel

Bernoulli, Daniel (1700–82) Swiss mathematician and physicist. His work on hydrodynamics demonstrated that pressure in a fluid decreases as the velocity of fluid flow increases. This fact, which explains the lift of an aircraft, became known as Bernoulli's principle. Bernoulli also formulated Bernoulli's law and made the first statement of the kinetic theory of gases.

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