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A biography of daniel bernoulli born into a family of mathematicians

He was born into a dynasty of mathematicians who were prone to bitter rivalry. His father tried to map out Daniel's life by selecting a wife and a career for him. By the time Daniel was thirteen, his father was reconciled to the fact that his son would never be a merchant, but absolutely refused to allow him to take up mathematics, decreeing that Daniel would become a doctor.

  1. Bernoulli determined the shape that a perfectly flexible thread assumes when acted upon by forces of which one component is vertical to the curve and the other is parallel to a given direction.
  2. Thus, in one stroke he derived the entire series of such curves as the velaria, lintearia, catenaria... By the time Daniel was thirteen, his father was reconciled to the fact that his son would never be a merchant, but absolutely refused to allow him to take up mathematics, decreeing that Daniel would become a doctor.
  3. After two years of studying together Johann became the equal of his brother in mathematical skill.
  4. The History of Mathematics. One remarkable discovery appears in Chapter 10 of Hydrodynamica where Daniel discussed the basis for the kinetic theory of gases.
  5. Other awards include one in 1747 for a method to determine time at sea and in 1753 for the effects of forces on ships.

Daniel gained his baccalaureate in 1715 and master's degree in 1716 at Basle University, but, while studying philosophy at Basle, he began learning about the calculus from his father and his older brother Nikolas.

He studied medicine at Heidelberg in 1718, Strasbourg in 1719, and then returned to Basle in 1720 to complete his doctorate. About this time, he was attracted to the work of William HarveyOn the Movement of Heat and Blood in Animals, which combined his interests in mathematics and fluids.

  • In a second dispute in 1702 Bernoulli was accused by a student at the University of Groningen, Petrus Venhuysen, who published a pamphlet which basically accused Bernoulli of following Descartes ' philosophy;
  • This consisted of four separate parts being four topics that had attracted his interest while in Venice.

By 1720 his father had introduced him to what would later be called "conservation of energy," which he applied in his medical studies, writing his doctoral dissertation on the mechanics of breathing.

After completing his medical studies in 1721, he applied for a chair at Basle, but like his father before him, he lost out in a lottery.

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Disappointed with his lack of success, he accepted an invitation from Catherine IEmpress of Russia, to become Professor of Mathematics at the Imperial Academy in St.

Catherine was so desperate to secure Daniel that she agreed to offer a second chair to his brother, Nikolas. Unfortunately, Nikolas died of tuberculosis shortly after arriving in Russia.

  1. The Cartesians naturally highlighted 'reason' and held the view that...
  2. His application for the chair of anatomy and botany was decided by drawing of lots and he was unlucky in this game of chance. Euler used his great analytic skills to put many of Daniel's physical insights into a rigorous mathematical form.
  3. Undoubtedly the most important work which Daniel Bernoulli did while in St Petersburg was his work on hydrodynamics.
  4. Johann was involved in a number of religious disputes, his second child was a daughter who was born in 1697 and only lived for six weeks, and he suffered so severe an illness that he was reported to have died. This was a disgraceful attempt by Johann to gain credit for work which was not his and at the same time to discredit his own son and shows the depths to which the bad feeling between them had reached.
  5. His medical work on the flow of blood and blood pressure also gave him an interest in fluid flow.

Despondent over his death, Daniel thought of returning home, but stayed when his father suggested that one of his own students, Leonard Euler, would make an able assistant. Bernoulli and Euler dominated the mechanics of flexible and elastic bodies for many years.

They also investigated the flow of fluids. In particular, they wanted to know about the relationship between the speed at which blood flows and its pressure. Bernoulli experimented by puncturing the wall of a pipe with a small, open-ended straw, and noted that as the fluid passed through the tube the height to which the fluid rose up the straw was related to fluid's pressure.

Soon physicians all over Europe were measuring patients' blood pressure by sticking pointed-ended glass tubes directly into their arteries.

It was not until 1896 that an Italian doctor discovered a less painful method that is still in widespread use. However, Bernoulli's method of measuring air pressure is still used today to measure the airspeed of airplanes.

Around the same time, he made yet another fundamental discovery when he showed that the movements of strings of musical instruments are composed of an infinite number of harmonic vibrations, all superimposed on the string.

Johann Bernoulli

Another major contribution that Bernoulli made while in Russia was the discovery that whereas a moving body traded its kinetic energy for potential energy when it gained height, a moving fluid traded its kinetic energy for pressure. In terms of mathematical symbols, the law of conservation of energy becomes: A consequence of this law is that if the pressure falls, then the velocity or the density must increase, and conversely.

This explains how an airplane wing can generate lift: By 1730 Bernoulli longed to return to Basle, but despite numerous attempts, he lost out in ballots for academic positions until 1732. However, in 1734 the French Academy of Sciences awarded a joint prize to Daniel and his father in recognition of their work.

Johann found it difficult to admit that his son was at least his equal, and once again the house of Bernoulli was divided. Of all the work that Bernoulli carried out in Russia, perhaps the most important was in hydrodynamics, a draft account of which was completed in 1734.

The final version appeared in 1738 with the frontispiece "Hydrodynamica, by Daniel BernoulliSon of Johann. Hydrodynamica contains much discussion on the principle of conservation of energy, which he had studied with his father since 1720. In addition, it gives the basic laws for the theory of gases and gave, although not in full detail, the equation of state discovered by Johannes Van der Waals a century later.

A year later, his father published his own work, Hydraulics, which appeared to have a lot in common with that of his son, and the talk was of blatant plagiarism.


Hydrodynamica marked the beginning of fluid dynamics—the study of the way fluids and gases behave. Each particle in a gas obeys Isaac Newton's laws of motion, but instead of simple planetary motion, a much richer variety of behavior can be observed. In the third century b. Using calculus, he combined Archimedes' idea of pressure with Newton's laws of motion. Fluid dynamics is a vast area of study that can be used to describe many phenomena, from the study of simple fluids such as water, to the behavior of the plasma in the interior of stars, and even interstellar gases.

After the dispute with his father in 1734, Daniel Bernoulli lost much of his drive to study mathematics and turned his attention to medicine and physiology. Finally, in 1750, Daniel was appointed chair of physics at Basle, where he taught until his death on March 17, 1782.

The Evolution of Dynamics: Vibration Theory from 1687 to 1742. The History of Mathematics. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.