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Bernoulli, Johann [Jean]

1. Dates
Born: Basel, Switzerland 6 Aug 1667 (ADB: 27 July)
Died: Basel, Switzerland 1 Jan 1748
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 81
2. Father
Occupation: Drug Merchant
Clearly prosperous.
3. Nationality
Birth: Swiss
Career: Netherlands, Swiss
Death: Swiss
4. Education
Schooling: Basel, M.A. M.D.
1683, enrolled in U. of Basel.
1685, promoted to MA, began to study medicine;
Began to study math privately with brother Jakob I.
1690, licentiate in medicine.
Temporarily halted studies -- see support.
1694, doctoral dissertation in medicine (iatromathematics).
5. Religion
Affiliation: evangelical Protestant--i.e, Lutheran
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mathematics, Mechanics
Subordinate: Medicine, Chemistry
Two early medical treatises on fermentation & digestion.
(Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie also mentions minor chemistry).
7. Means of Support
Primary: Schoolmaster, Academic Position
Secondary: Personal Means
1691, spent most of year in Geneva teaching differential calculus to J. Christoph. Fatio-de- Duillier.
1692, taught infinitesimal calculus to Marquis de L'Hospital, for which L'Hospital "generously compensated" him; L'H. gave Bernoulli a "considerable fee" to continue the lessons by correspondence after Bernoulli returned to Basel.
Around 1692, also taught Varignon.
1694, with Leibnitz's help, Bernoulli was to receive a call as Mathematician to the Academy at Wolfenbüttel but his impending marriage prevented it.
1695, was offered professorship at Halle -- declined.
1695-1705, through the intervention of Huygens, got the chair of math and physics at Groningen.
Date? repeatedly was offered positions at Utrecht and Leiden (through his father in law?).
Oct. 1703, his father-in-law got him the Basel Chair in Greek (a sinecure used to get hold of him until he could get an appropriate chair).
1705 got (recently deceased brother Jakob's) chair of math at Basel; the University Senate visited Johann in corpore to ask him to take up Jakob's vacant chair; the government granted him an extraordinary pay raise (ausserordentliche Zulage); held the position until he died.
All during his time at Basel he refused calls to Leiden, Padua, Gröningen, and Berlin.
1730 (alone) and 1734 (with son Daniel), won Paris Academy prizes.
8. Patronage
Types: City Magistrate, Scientist
Father was Ratsherr of Basel.
1694, married into one of the ruling families of Basel.
"As son-in-law of Alderman Falkner ... held honorary civic offices" in Basel.
See Huygens' role in Groningen chair above.
9. Technological Involvement
Types: None
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: Académie Royal des Sciences, Berlin Academy, Royal Society, Russian Academy (St. Petersburg), Institute Bologna
Informal: "Grandseigneur of the science of mathematics."
Belonged to famous family of mathematicians -- worked with his brother Jakob only in his early years.
By 1710, had won a good place in Malebranche's mathematical circle in Paris (surely this date is wrong--too late).
Much correspondence: exchanged 2,500 letters with 110 scholars.
Formal: published in various learned journals and memoirs of Academies, including Acta Eruditorum and Journal des Scavans.
1699, elected to Academie of Paris.
1701, elected to Academie of Berlin.
1712, elected to Royal Society of London.
1725, elected to St. Petersburg Academy.
1724, elected to Institute of Bologna.
  1. M. Cantor?, Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, 2, 473 - 476 Neue Deutsche Biographie, 2, 130-1 O. Spiess, "J.B. und seine Soehne," Atlantis (1940), 663.
  2. , Die Mathematiker Bernoulli (Basel, 1948).
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. C. Caratheodory, "Basel und der Beginn der Variationsrechnung," in Festschrift zum 60. Geburtstag won Andreas Speiser, (Zurich, 1945), 1-18 Other works listed in DSB which seem to concentrate on his math or are not in library.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.

©1995 Al Van Helden
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