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Scientific patronage and rivalry in Laplace's early career

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.Sc.
Date created
Before the French Revolution, access into the elite echelon of French society was almost entirely restricted to those of noble birth. Pierre Simon Laplace (1749-1827) instead entered the French scientific community based on his merit as a scientist and his ability to obtain powerful patrons. We will discuss the influence of Laplace's patrons, such as Jean le Rond d'Alembert (1717-1783), on his personal, professional and scholarly life, concentrating on Laplace’s early career. Laplace's career was equally shaped by the influence of scientific rivalry, both positive and negative. The friendships that Laplace developed with contemporaries, such as Joseph-Louis Lagrange (1736-1813), can be seen as containing positive rivalries that led to innovative work. As a negative influence, rivalry can lead to priority disputes and result in rifts between those involved. We will examine both the positive and negative rivalries in Laplace’s early career.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Archibald, Tom
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