1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Aepinus, Franz Ulrich Theodor
AEPINUS, FRANZ ULRICH THEODOR (1724–1802), German natural philosopher, was born at Rostock in Saxony on the 13th of December 1724. He was descended from John Aepinus (1499–1553), the first to adopt the Greek form (αἰπεινός) of the family name Hugk or Huck, and a leading theologian and controversialist at the time of the Reformation. After studying medicine for a time, Franz Aepinus devoted himself to the physical and mathematical sciences, in which he soon gained such distinction that he was admitted a member of the Berlin academy of sciences. In 1757 he settled in St Petersburg as member of the imperial academy of sciences and professor of physics, and remained there till his retirement in 1798. The rest of his life was spent at Dorpat, where he died on the 10th of August 1802. He enjoyed the special favour of the empress Catherine II., who appointed him tutor to her son Paul, and endeavoured, without success, to establish normal schools throughout the empire under his direction. Aepinus is best known by his researches, theoretical and experimental, in electricity and magnetism, and his principal work, Tentamen Theoriae Electricitatis et Magnetismi, published at St Petersburg in 1759, was the first systematic and successful attempt to apply mathematical reasoning to these subjects. He also published a treatise, in 1761, De distributione caloris per tellurem, and he was the author of memoirs on different subjects in astronomy, mechanics, optics and pure mathematics, contained in the journals of the learned societies of St Petersburg and Berlin. His discussion of the effects of parallax in the transit of a planet over the sun’s disc excited great interest, having appeared (in 1764) between the dates of the two transits of Venus that took place in the 18th century.