# The New Student's Reference Work/Laplace, Pierre Simon

**La′place′, Pierre Simon,** a French mathematical astronomer called the Newton of France, was born on March 28, 1749, and died on March 5, 1827. He began by teaching mathematics in a military school at Beaumont, but through the influence of D'Alembert, he was shortly appointed to the *École Militaire* of Paris. His great work consisted in deriving all motions of all members of the solar system from dynamics alone. The results are his famous *Celestial Mechanics* (1799-1825). His contributions to mathematical physics also are of extreme importance; for to Laplace we owe the beautiful method of *Spherical Harmonics* and the powerful *Potential Function*. Laplace perhaps is best known by his bold and attractive hypothesis that the solar system is merely a condensed nebula — the so-called nebular hypothesis. Although undoubtedly anticipated by Kant in the general idea, Laplace offered so powerful evidence for his view that we may fairly call the theory a Laplacian one. Within the last few years tnis hypothesis has been ably criticised by Professors Chamberlain and Moulton of the University of Chicago. See Professor Moulton's article in the *Astro-physical Journal*, Vol. XI., pp. 103-30 (1900).