Recently March 21st would have marked the 250th birthday of one of the most famous mathematicians of all time: Joseph Fourier. During his name, he even went around the world with Napoleon helping him conquer the world, with mathematical breakthroughs.
He changed the whole way of thinking about heat transfer, improving the science around that industry tenfold and even created mathematical tools that are still used today. For example without Fourier, a CT or MRI scan would just be impossible. Not only that he even discovered the infamous greenhouse effect.
Not only did he make such amazing discoveries that revolutionized the mathematical world, helping it became a modern science that influenced many areas of development. He also gave us amazing quotes like:
“There cannot be a language, more universal and more simple, more free from error…”
Yeah, not sure we can all agree with that quote when sitting confused in our math classes.
Fourier grew up as an orphan in a troubled time for France, the moments of the French Revolution. A little bit of chaos everywhere and passion that was boundless. Fourier focused on mathematics and luckily a local bishop spotted his talent. He was educated through monasteries and monks & the tale is he loved to study so much he collected candle stumps to read all through the night.
Later on, he was a professor in an engineering school where he proved his genius teaching all ranges of subjects. In fact, he could substitute in for any teacher and still provide an excellent class lesson. During his lifetime he received numerous honors, including a French Academy of Science award. But his love of heat and the study of it ultimately became his doom.
Many believe that his cause of death in 1830 was due to his fanatical obsession with climbing into saunas fully clothed and always keeping his rooms as hot as possible. Nevertheless, he is a mathematical legend and even has his name inscribed on the Eiffel tower.