ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROYAL INSTITUTION OF GREAT BRITAIN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Pierre Simon, Marquis de Laplace (1749-1827), French mathematician. Laplace was born in Normandy and studied theology, but soon gave that up for mathematics at Paris. His early work was in the calculus, and he applied this to the study of orbits of solar system bodies in his work Mechanique Celeste. He restated the nebular hypothesis for solar system formation, developed the idea of gravitational collapse and postulated black holes. He was a founder of mathematical physics, creating an analogue of the Fourier Transform used today for linear, time-invariant systems such as electrical circuits. One of the greatest mathematicians of all time, he is often called the Newton of France.
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