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Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau

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14 Oct 1801

Brussels, Belgium

15 Sept 1883

Ghent, Belgium

Joseph Plateau was a physicist who is best remembered in mathematics for Plateau Problems . He used a solution of soapy water and glycerine and dipped wire contours into it, noting that the surfaces formed were minimal surfaces.

Plateau did not have the mathematical skills to investigate the problem theoretically but Weierstrass , Riemann and Schwarz worked on the problem which was finally solved by Douglas and Radó . Plateau wrote some mathematical work on number theory and wrote a joint article with Quetelet .

He was blind for the last 40 years of his life after he experimented by staring at the Sun for 25 seconds.

Source:School of Mathematics and Statistics University of St Andrews, Scotland