Leonhard Euler and the Bernoullis: Mathematicians from Basel

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Summary

"Leonhard Euler and the Bernoullis is a fascinating tale of the Bernoulli family and Euler's association with them. Successful merchants in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Bernoullis were driven out of Antwerp during the persecution of the Huguenots and settled first in Frankfurt, and then in Basel, where one of the most remarkable mathematical dynasties evolved with Jacob, Johann, and Daniel Bernoulli the most prominent among them. Euler, fortunate to have had Johann Bernoulli as a tutor, quickly rose to prominence in the academies of Berlin and St. Petersburg, and became the most prolific and profound mathematician that ever lived.

The story of these remarkable men, their great ambitions and dedication to their science-often against parental authority-is skillfully told by the author. Refreshing fictional dialogue is interspersed throughout into an otherwise accurate historical scenario. The book is intended for the young adult audience of middle school and early high school ages, but surely will also appeal to a general audience, with or without mathematical background."

--Walter Gautschi, Purdue University

Table of Contents

The Bernoullis as Huguenots
The Bernoulli Family in Frankfurt and Then Basel
Jacob Makes His First Steps in the Study of Mathematics
His Little Brother Johann "Helps" Jacob with Mathematics
Having Completed His Studies in Philosophy and Theology, Jacob Moves On
Jacob Travels to Geneva and Meets Elizabeth Waldkirch and Her Family
Jacob Teaches Elizabeth Waldkirch to Read and Write Numbers and Words
Sundials, and Tutoring in France
Jacob Meets with Mathematicians in Paris
Jacob Travels to Holland and England
Jacob Settles into Life in Basel to Lecture and Learn
Leibniz’s Calculus vs. Newton’s Fluxions
Johann Bernoulli Grows Up
Two Curves Studied by the Bernoullis: The Isochrone and the Catenary
More Mathematical Challenges from the Bernoullis
Jacob Bernoulli’s Mathematics
Johann Bernoulli Returns to Basel with His Family
Johann Bernoulli’s Son Daniel Grows Up
Daniel Bernoulli, the Paris Prize, and the Longitude Problem
Leonhard Euler
Leonhard Euler’s Early Education
Leonhard Euler Goes to the Latin School in Basel and Then on to the University
Daniel and Nicolaus Bernoulli Receive a Call to the Academy at St. Petersburg
The Academy of Sciences at St. Petersburg
Euler Begins His Career and Moves to St. Petersburg
Daniel Bernoulli and Leonhard Euler: An Active Scientific Partnership
The St. Petersburg Paradox
Euler’s Early Work in St. Petersburg
Daniel Returns to Basel, and Leonhard Euler Becomes Professor of Mathematics at St. Petersburg
Daniel Bernoulli: A Famous Scholar
Leonhard Euler: Admired Professor at St. Petersburg
Euler Becomes Blind in His Right Eye
St. Petersburg Loses Euler to Frederick the Great of Prussia
The Eulers Arrive at the Court of Frederick the Great in Berlin
Euler’s Scientific Work in Berlin
Euler’s Work in Number Theory
Magic Squares
Catherine the Great Invites Euler to Return to St. Petersburg
The Basel Clan

Editorial Reviews

…the story told is interesting, and the author is to be complimented for her efforts to make it as historically accurate as possible.
—J. Johnson, CHOICE, June 2010

Tent’s attention to detail, both mathematically and historically, is excellent.
—Rob Bradley, London Mathematical Society, April 2010

…an interesting and entertaining biography of Leonhard Euler (1707–1783) and of some of the Bernoullis, aimed at middle and high school students … the book emphasizes day-to-day life and the relations between the mathematicians, especially the forever-squabbling Bernoullis.
MAA Reviews, November 2009