A Comet of the Enlightenment: Anders Johan Lexell's Life and by Johan C.-E. Stén

By Johan C.-E. Stén

The Finnish mathematician and astronomer Anders Johan Lexell (1740–1784) used to be a long-time shut collaborator in addition to the tutorial successor of Leonhard Euler on the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg. Lexell used to be at the start invited by means of Euler from his local city of Abo (Turku) in Finland to Saint Petersburg to aid within the mathematical processing of the astronomical info of the imminent transit of Venus of 1769. many years later he turned a typical member of the Academy. this is often the first-ever full-length biography dedicated to Lexell and his prolific medical output. His wealthy correspondence specifically from his grand travel to Germany, France and England finds him as a lucid observer of the highbrow panorama of enlightened Europe. within the skies, a comet, a minor planet and a crater at the Moon named after Lexell additionally perpetuate his memory.

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In 1757–1762, Sweden found itself involved in a war against Prussia (the Pomeranian war, a theatre of the Seven Years War), but this war did not involve Finland directly. 2 Intellectual Awakening Exactly when and how Anders Johan’s mathematical talent first became noticeable, and who was his first teacher, is not known. 6 Lexell’s loss of his mother, at the age of nine, was certainly a severe blow, and it could well have been even more fatal for his development, had the family not been relatively well-off.

His promising career seems to have been cut short by alcoholism [129]. 23 Eric Östling defended his thesis pro gradu magisterii on 6 June 1764, presided by Johan Gottschalk Wallerius (1709–1785), Professor of Chemistry. That thesis was only a few pages long. 3 Development and Frustration 31 a few years later he was already engaged in a correspondence with both of them. e. docent (lecturer) in mathematics in Åbo. His subsequent application in 1764 for the open position of Adjunct Professor at the Philosophical Faculty of the Academy was at first unsuccessful, but on 24 May 1765 he was eventually appointed [81].

5 The Masters of Mathematics Mathematics, as is so often the case, was at the forefront of the development of natural sciences during the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment. Due to the rigour and the coercive power involved in mathematical demonstrations of natural laws, the mathematical method was generally considered to be an ideal model for all sciences. Mathematical innovations were a prerequisite to the establishment of a solid theoretical basis and structure to a growing number of findings in the empirical sciences, especially physics and astronomy.

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