1368 words - 5 pages

On August 6, 1667, a famous Swiss mathematician was born in Basel, Switzerland. He was the tenth child of Nikolaus Bernoulli and Margaretha Schonauer (McElroy 31). They named him Johann Bernoulli, but he was also called Jean and John (Young 52). Bernoulli's family of wealthy merchants from Holland wanted him to follow a career in business. However, he failed as a business person, and followed his brother's pathway in mathematics and sciences (McElroy 31).

In 1683, Bernoulli enrolled at the University of Basel (Young 52). His older brother, Jakob, was a professor of mathematics, and he was teaching about experimental physics at the time. Bernoulli studied medicine and physics, and he achieved his doctorate in 1694, by writing a mathematical dissertation in the field of medicine (McElroy 31). Although his father didn't want him to, Bernoulli also studied mathematics alone with his brother in hopes that this would help him in his career as a physicist (Olanoff 612).

The Bernoulli brothers learned infinitesimal calculus by a small group of European Mathematicians who fully understood it (Young 52). In addition, they also conquered Gottfried Wilhelm Von Leibniz's differential calculus. While in Geneva, Johann, found a solution to the catenary problem posed by his brother in 1691. This was his first notable achievement that made him a leading mathematician of Europe (McElroy 31-32).

Furthermore, Bernoulli went to Paris in 1691 where he met the best scientists and philosophers in France (Young 52). They were very impressed with what he had accomplished, and they recognized him for his “golden theorem,” which is a formula for the radius of a curvature of an arbitrary curve (McElroy 32). They also made him a representative of Leibniz's infinitesimal calculus. In 1692, Marquis Guillaume-Francois-Antoine de L'Hospital, a young mathematician, paid Bernoulli to teach him infinitesimal calculus; L'Hospital also bought Bernoulli's mathematical discoveries.

For example, one of the insights that L'Hospital bought was “L'Hospital's Rule.” It allows people to find the limiting value of a fraction in which both numerator and denominator tend toward zero. Many of Bernoulli's ideas, including this one, was included in L'Hospital's first calculus book, written in 1696, entitled Analysis of the Infinitely Small. However, some proof shows that L'Hospital provided a few of his ideas, such as the improvement of the logarithmic curve.

Not all of Bernoulli's ideas were bought by L'Hospital because some of his discoveries were made after he taught him about calculus, such as his solution to the “Debeaune's problem.” The problem was posed by a French mathematician, Florimond Debeaune, and it consisted of determining a curve from a property of its tangent (Young 52-53). Also, Bernoulli addressed 2,500 letters with 110 scholars during his lifetime. In 1693, Bernoulli began talking to Leibniz, one of the famous scholars, about his scientific...

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