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French mathematician, geophysicist

Biographical Information

Name: Pierre Bouguer
Born on 16 February 1698 in , Loire-Atlantique (44), Pays de la Loire, France, Europe
Deceased on 15 August 1758 in , Ile-de-France, France, Europe

Short biography of Pierre Bouguer

Bouguer studied at the Jesuit College in Vannes, the capital of Morbihan Departement. In geodesy and geophysics he is primarily known for the free-air anomaly that bears his name and which is important in connection with the research into the exact shape of the Earth – a sphere flattened at the poles (oblate spheroid). His Mémoire [Bouguer, 1736] presented to the Paris Academy of Sciences in 1734 and published in 1736 was the first treatise on the theory of the dome. In this work, Bouguer investigates possible forms for stable domes while neglecting the friction, i. e. with compressive forces always acting in the direction of the meridian and at the midsurface of the dome. A. F. Frézier was able to continue this work. Frézier imagined the dome to be assembled from a series of masonry arch elements . This strip method enabled him to compare the thrust of the dome with the thrust of barrel vaults with the same profile which were known to him [Frézier,1737–39]. The combination of the frictionless approach of Bouguer and the strip method of Frézier paved the way for the pure mathematical research into the loadbearing behaviour of domes. Such mathematical dome theories are characteristic of the application phase of structural theory (1700–75).

Main contributions to structural analysis:

Sur les lignes courbes qui sont propres à former les voûtes en dôme [1736]; Manoeuvre des vaisseaux ou Traité de méchanique et de dynamique; Dans lequel on réduit à des solutions très-simples les problèmes de marine les plus difficiles, qui ont pour objet le mouvement du navire [1757]

Source: Kurrer, Karl-Eugen The History of the Theory of Structures, Wilhelm Ernst & Sohn Verlag für Architektur und technische Wissenschaften GmbH, Berlin (Deutschland), ISBN 3-433-01838-3, 2008; p. 719

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