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date: 20 February 2020

Euler, Leonhardlocked

  • Clive Greated


(b Basle, April 4, 1707; d St Petersburg, Sept 18, 1783). Swiss mathematician, scientist and philosopher. He studied at Basle University under Johann Bernoulli. When he was 20, he took (at Daniel Bernoulli's suggestion) a post at the Academy of Sciences in St Petersburg; he held a post in Berlin (1741–66), then returned to St Petersburg. He won the Grand Prix of the Paris Académie des Sciences 12 times. The most prolific of scientists, he published some 800 memoirs and 50 books or pamphlets on various branches of mathematical science and some domains of engineering, music, philosophy and religion.

Euler contributed more to theoretical acoustics as the subject is now known than has any other man. At the age of 19 he wrote Dissertatio physica de sono, in which he divided sounds into three kinds (the tremblings of solid bodies; the sudden release of compressed or rarefied air; and oscillations of air, either freely or confined). Acoustics was one of his favourite subjects. His notebooks show that as a boy of 19 he planned to write a treatise on all aspects of music, including form and composition as well as acoustics and harmony. The only part of this project to come to fruition was his ...

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