The New Student's Reference Work/Fourier, Jean Baptiste J.
Fourier (fōō'rĭ-ēr), Jean Baptiste J., a distinguished French physicist and mathematician, was born on March 21, 1768, and died at Paris, on May 16, 1830. He taught mathematics at Saint-Maur, at the Normal School and at the Polytechnic School in Paris, successively. In 1798 he went to Egypt with Bonaparte. Later he was appointed prefect of Grenoble in France, a position which he held for 14 years. It was while here that he wrote his immortal work on the Analytical Theory of Heat, which was published in 1822, and which has ever since remained a model in clearness and method for all writers on mathematical physics. It was this work which, six years after its publication, suggested to Georg Ohm, the German mathematician, the remarkably simple description of the manner in which electric currents flow through conductors, now known as Ohm's law. Fourier was quite as remarkable for breadth of culture as for special attainments in mathematics. At the same time with Cuvier he was perpetual secretary of the French Academy of Science.