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Ehrenfried Walter von Tschirnhaus

Data de nastere:

Locul nasterii:

Data mortii:

Locul mortii:

10 April 1651

Kieslingswalde (near Görlitz), Germany

11 Oct 1708

Dresden, Germany

Ehrenfried Tschirnhaus had private lessons in mathematics while still at school. He entered the University of Leiden in 1668 and there he studied mathematics, philosophy and medicine. In 1672 war broke out between Holland and France and Tschirnhaus enlisted in a student force. He did not see active service.

Tschirnhaus began a European tour in 1674, visiting England where he met Wallis in Oxford and Collins in London. He also visited Leiden and then Paris where he remained for a while after meeting Leibniz and Huygens .

Tschirnhaus worked on the solution of equations and the study of curves. He discovered a transformation which, when applied to an equation of degree n, gave an equation of degree n with no term in xn-1 and xn-2.

He also studied catacaustic curves in 1682, these being the envelope of light rays emitted from a point source after reflection from a given curve. There is a sinusoidal spiral named after him.

For some time Tschirnhaus had one aim in life and that was to obtain a paid position at the Académie Royale des Sciences in Paris. He was elected a member in 1682 but no pension came with the appointment.

Tschirnhaus was a scientist, and among other things, he experimented making porcelain from clay mixed with fusible rock in the 1680s. A factory at Meissen started production of his porcelain in 1710 and the first sales of any consequence of Tschirnhaus's porcelain took place at the Leipzig Fair in 1713.

In 1706 Sweden invaded and Tschirnhaus was in some trouble. However after the war he was offered the position of Chancellor at the University of Halle but remained on his family estate of Kieslingswald. There was great competition from governments to obtain his porcelain techniques but Tschirnhaus kept them for himself and ended his life deeply in debt.

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