A Comet of the Enlightenment: Anders Johan Lexell's Life and by Johan C.-E. Stén

By Johan C.-E. Stén

The Finnish mathematician and astronomer Anders Johan Lexell (1740–1784) was once a long-time shut collaborator in addition to the tutorial successor of Leonhard Euler on the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg. Lexell was once at the beginning invited through Euler from his local city of Abo (Turku) in Finland to Saint Petersburg to aid within the mathematical processing of the astronomical facts of the drawing close transit of Venus of 1769. many years later he grew to become a regular member of the Academy. this is often the first-ever full-length biography dedicated to Lexell and his prolific medical output. His wealthy correspondence specifically from his grand travel to Germany, France and England finds him as a lucid observer of the highbrow panorama of enlightened Europe. within the skies, a comet, a minor planet and a crater at the Moon named after Lexell additionally perpetuate his memory.

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Extra info for A Comet of the Enlightenment: Anders Johan Lexell's Life and Discoveries

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It was Finland’s first university, founded in 1640, and the forerunner of today’s University of Helsinki [63, 80]. The cultural and commercial ties between Åbo and the towns of Sweden proper were close. The main examples and influences came from the capital Stockholm as well as the nation’s oldest university town and episcopal see, Uppsala. The two major landmarks of Turku—the old cathedral and the majestic stone castle in the harbour—bear witness to the town’s importance since medieval times. For the inhabitants of Finland, the first half of the eighteenth century was a time of particular hardship and distress.

Being also an ecclesiastic, Planman was later appointed vicar of two parishes near Åbo. While waiting for a suitable opportunity to present itself, Lexell made his living by private tuition of children of wealthy families. To this end, it was absolutely essential to become known and recommended by key persons in society. 18 In a small town like Åbo, everybody in the upper crust of society knew each other. Thus, Mennander had certainly become acquainted with Jonas Lexell through his public duties and was thereby able to arrange work for his mathematically-inclined son.

Notable proponents of the mathematical methods of Leibniz were the two rivalling Bernoulli brothers, Jakob I (James or Jacques) and Johann I (John or Jean). The result of the expedition led by Maupertuis to Torne River Valley in Swedish Lapland in 1736–1737 marked a turning point in the controversy between the Newtonians and Cartesians [135, 148, 159]. 14 As it subsequently was confirmed that Newton’s theory was right, namely that the Earth indeed is somewhat flattened at the poles, the Cartesians were obliged to abandon their position.

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