By Johan C.-E. Stén
The Finnish mathematician and astronomer Anders Johan Lexell (1740–1784) used to be 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 via Euler from his local city of Abo (Turku) in Finland to Saint Petersburg to aid within the mathematical processing of the astronomical information of the imminent transit of Venus of 1769. many years later he turned a standard member of the Academy. this is often the first-ever full-length biography dedicated to Lexell and his prolific clinical output. His wealthy correspondence specifically from his grand journey 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
4). , with remarks on the contemporary literature in physics, including the popular book Physices elementa mathematica, experimentis confirmata (Leiden, 1721) of the Dutch physicist Willem Jacob ’s Gravesande. Aphorismus X concerns the behaviour of light at boundary surfaces, and it is demonstrated that when light according to the Newtonian corpuscular (particle or emission) hypothesis enters from a medium with a lower refractive index into one with a higher refractive index, the path of light cannot assume a parabolic curve, as some authors seemed to suggest, because this would mean that the attraction of the second medium would be nearly constant in all space (implicitly assuming a force similar to the gravitational attraction near the Earth’s surface, where bodies are known to fall in parabolic trajectories).
Starlight is typically not monochromatic; thus, every colour has a slightly different focus). The problem could be alleviated by making the lens very thin, but in consequence the focal distance also grows very large and thus the telescope becomes impractically long. The reflecting telescope invented by Isaac Newton has no objective lens and thus avoids the problem, but for different reasons did not gain much popularity outside England. Other variations of the reflecting telescope are called, after their inventors, Gregorian and Cassegrain telescopes.
We begin with an overview of the state of mathematics and astronomy at the Royal Academy of Åbo, where Lexell received his education. 1 Childhood in Åbo (Turku), Finland Anders Johan Lexell was born as a “Christmas gift”, on 24 December 17401 in Åbo, the principal ecclesiastic and administrative centre of Swedish Finland. At the time, the town Åbo, which is the Swedish name of the city today equally known by the Finnish name Turku,2 had a population of about 5,000 inhabitants. Of them, roughly two thirds were Finnish speaking and one third Swedish speaking.
A Comet of the Enlightenment: Anders Johan Lexell's Life and Discoveries by Johan C.-E. Stén