FOURIER, (Jean-Baptiste Joseph, baron)

French mathematician, physicist and egyptologist born in Auxerre (1768), died in Paris (1830). One of the first teachers of the École Polytechnique after its foundation. He tries to make himself known to the scientific community in 1789 by sending a paper on the approximation of polynomial roots to the Académie française, but the French revolution ruins this attempt. After being the assistant, and then sucessor of Laplace (1797), he is brought in Egypt by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1798 to lead the science efforts there. In 1799, he becomes Egypt's public administrator. Fourier returns to France in 1802 and is then named prefect of Grenoble. He presents in 1807 a paper on heat transfer to the Académie. Kind to the Bourbons, he does not oppose the return of Napoléon in 1815, so that Louis XVIII refuses to acknowledge his (first) election to the Académie des sciences in 1816. The king nonetheless accepts his (second) election in 1817 and Fourier is then officially part of the scientific community. He publishes in 1822 his Théorie analytique de la chaleur where he introduces the well-known Fourier series and Fourier transform, and becomes perpetual secretary of the Académie des sciences.

Adaptation / translation of various sources, including but not limited to Le Petit Robert 2, the Encyclopédie Universalis and Encyclopedia Britannica.

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