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Birkhäuser - Birkhäuser History of Science | A Comet of the Enlightenment - Anders Johan Lexell's Life and Discoveries

A Comet of the Enlightenment

Anders Johan Lexell's Life and Discoveries

Series: Vita Mathematica, Vol. 17

Sten, Johan

2014, XVI, 300 p. 46 illus., 16 illus. in color.

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  • The first-ever full-length biography of the mathematician and astronomer Anders Johan Lexell (1740–1784)
  • Sheds new light on the collaborators of Leonhard Euler
  • Interesting study of a scientist's grand tour through enlightened Europe
The Finnish mathematician and astronomer Anders Johan Lexell (1740–1784) was a long-time close collaborator as well as the academic successor of Leonhard Euler at the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg. Lexell was initially invited by Euler from his native town of Abo (Turku) in Finland to Saint Petersburg to assist in the mathematical processing of the astronomical data of the forthcoming transit of Venus of 1769. A few years later he became an ordinary member of the Academy. This is the first-ever full-length biography devoted to Lexell and his prolific scientific output. His rich correspondence especially from his grand tour to Germany, France and England reveals him as a lucid observer of the intellectual landscape of enlightened Europe. In the skies, a comet, a minor planet and a crater on the Moon named after Lexell also perpetuate his memory.

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Academy of Sciences of Saint Petersburg - Anders Johan Lexell - Leonhard Euler - history of astronomy - history of mathematics

Related subjects » Birkhäuser History of Science - Birkhäuser Mathematics - Birkhäuser Physics

Table of contents 

1 Setting the scene.- 2 The humble beginnings.- 3 New prospects in Saint Petersburg.- 4 Formation of an Academician.- 5 Professor of astronomy.- 6 Professional relations and correspondence.- 7 Academic events in Saint Petersburg.- 8 Lexell’s work in mathematics.- 9 Academic Journey 1780–1781.- 10 Return to an Academy in crisis.- 12 A sketch of Lexell’s personality.- 13 Conclusion.- 14 Appendices.

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