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Joseph Fourier: drawn by Dutertre (ca. 1798-9)

Portrait of Joseph Fourier (drawn by Andre Dutertre, 1798-9).

The French expedition to Egypt included a number of scientists and mathematicians who helped survey and study the resources of the country. One of the mathematicians was Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier (1768 – 1830), here shown at age 30. Fourier is best known for his formulas called Fourier Transforms, applied to physics in applications of heat transfer and vibrations. Fourier is also generally credited with the discovery of the "greenhouse effect."

Fourier, born in Auxerre as the son of a tailor, and orphaned at an early age, was educated by the Benedictine Order and joined the army as a lecturer in mathematics. After the French Revolution he was appointed to the École Normale, and subsequently succeeded Joseph-Louis Lagrange at the École Polytechnique. Fourier joined the French expedition to Egypt in 1798, as scientific adviser, and was appointed secretary of the Institut d'Égypte until returning to France in 1801.

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