BUFFON

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Author

FrenchBorn Georges Louis LECLERC DE BUFFON

French naturalist, mathematician, cosmologist, and encyclopedic author

Born on September 07, 1707 in Montbard, France , France

Died on April 16, 1788 in Paris, France

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Buffon was born at Montbard, Côte-d'Or. His father, Benjamin Leclerc, was a magistrate in the Parlement of Dijon. Georges-Louis attended the Jesuit College of Godrans in Dijon from the age of ten onwards, and then the University of Dijon and the University of Angers. He began studying law, but soon began to concentrate on his twin interests of mathematics and science. He was later forced to leave the university after becoming involved in a duel, and set off on a grand tour of Europe, returning when his father's remarriage threatened his inheritance.



In 1732 he moved to Paris, where he made the acquaintance of Voltaire and other intellectuals. He first made his mark in the field of mathematics and, in his Sur le jeu de franc-carreau, introduced differential and integral calculus into probability theory; the problem of Buffon's needle in probability theory is named after him. In 1734 he was admitted to the French Academy of Sciences. During this period he corresponded with the Swiss mathematician Gabriel Cramer.

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In 1733, his protector Maurepas had asked the Academy of Sciences to do research on wood for the construction of ships. Soon afterward, Buffon began a long-term study, performing some of the most comprehensive tests to date on the mechanical properties of wood. Included were a series of tests to compare the properties of small specimens with those of large members. After carefully testing more than a thousand small specimens without knots or other defects, Buffon concluded that it was not possible to extrapolate to the properties of full-size timbers, and he began a series of tests on full-size structural members.



In 1739 he was appointed head of the Parisian Jardin du Roi (later the Jardin des Plantes) with the help of Maurepas; he held this position to the end of his life. Buffon was instrumental in transforming the Jardin du Roi into a major research center and museum; he also enlarged it, arranging the purchase of adjoining plots of land and acquiring new botanical and zoological specimens from all over the world.



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Geographical origins

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