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Pierre Louis de Maupertuis, French physicist.

Pierre Louis de Maupertuis, French physicist.

H413/0150

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SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Pierre Maupertuis. Portrait of Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (1698-1759), French physicist, astronomer and mathematician. Maupertuis introduced Newton's theory of gravity to France. In 1736 Maupertuis verified Newton's hypothesis that Earth is not perfectly spherical. He formulated the theory of least action, which states that a mechanical system evolves so that its action is as small as possible. He thought that this law could be applied to all branches of science and tried to use it to prove the existence of God. Maupertuis was made president of the Berlin Academy in 1746 but was disliked and left after being satirized by Voltaire.

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