Pierre de Maupertuis, French astronomer

Pierre de Maupertuis, French astronomer

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Credit: ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (1698-1759), French astronomer and mathematician, artwork. The French quote is by Voltaire, and translates as: "The globe little known which he knew how to measure, becomes a monument of his fame. His destiny is to determine the figure of the Earth, to be its favourite and to enlighten it". This refers to his work in determining the shape of the Earth as oblate, though Maupertuis is now best known for his proposal of the Principle of Least Action, an important principle that laid the groundwork for later work in physics and other sciences. Maupertius is here depicted wearing a fur coat he wore during his 1736 expedition to Lapland.

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