The first blog entirely devoted to the history of physics.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Laplace and Bonaparte

''Laplace and Bonaparte were then serving on a commission together with Lacroix to report on an early mathematical memoir of Biot. Bonaparte never made the personal favorite of Laplace that he did of Monge and Berthollet, but in 1807 and 1808 his sister, Elisa, having been elevated to the rank of princess, took up Madame de Laplace and attached her as lady-in-waiting to her court in Lucca. Their correspondence offers glimpse into the Napoleonic world of fashion. On seizing power, Napoleon named Laplace Minister of the Interior. That ministry had responsibility for most aspects of domestic administration other than finance and police. Laplace lasted six weeks in the government, to be replaced by Bonaparte's brother, Lucien. Napoleon's reminiscence at St. Helena is also famous. Laplace, he said, could never 'get a grasp on any question in its true significance; he sought everywhere for subtleties, had only problematic ideas, and in short carried the spirit of the infinitesimal into administration.''

In Gillespie, Pierre-Simon Laplace 1749-1827: A Life in Exact Science, p. 176.

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