Maupertuis, Pierre Louis Moreau de

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Maupertuis, Pierre Louis Moreau de

Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (pyĕr lwē môrō´ də mōpĕrtüē´), 1698–1759, French mathematician and astronomer. For his skillful support of Newton's theory he was admitted to the Royal Society of London in 1728. He headed (1736–37) an expedition of academicians to Lapland, where he confirmed Newton's theory of the flattening of the earth at the poles. In 1740 he went to Berlin upon the invitation of Frederick II of Prussia, who later placed him in charge of the new academy. Besides his numerous astronomical writings, including Discours sur la figure des astres (1732) and Discours sur la parallaxe de la lune (1741), he wrote a work setting forth a mechanistic view of the universe, Essai de cosmologie (1750), and several biological studies. Quarrels, particularly with Samuel Koenig and Voltaire (who satirized him in several writings, especially Diatribe du Docteur Akakia), and illness complicated his later years.

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