Mathematician and physicist Leonhard Euler inspires interactive Google Doodle

15 Apr 2013186 Views

The Google Doodle in honour of Leonhard Euler

Internet search giant Google has given mathematician and physicist Leonhard Euler the Google Doodle treatment today, on the 306th anniversary of his birth.

The Google Doodle – a stylised Google logo on Google’s homepage – in honour of Euler features sketched mathematical formulae that includes the letters of the word ‘Google’. The second ‘o’, however, consists of a rotating planar graph that can be moved around by clicking and dragging on it with a computer mouse.

Euler, considered to be the pre-eminent mathematician of the 18th century, is known for having introduced most modern mathematical terminology and notation, and his major contributions are in optics, geometry, calculus, mechanics, astronomy, number theory and fluid dynamics.

Euler developed an interest in maths at an early age, which his tutor, family friend and mathematician Johann Bernoulli encouraged him to study. Euler, at age 13, then enrolled in the University of Basel in Basel, Switzerland, the city in which he was born on 15 April 1701.

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At age 20, Euler moved to St Petersburg, Russia, to begin a job at the Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences. Political turmoil forced him out of the country in 1741, however, and Euler headed to Berlin, where he then lived for 25 years.

While in the German capital, Euler wrote more than 380 articles, as well as his most renowned works: Introductio in analysin infinitorum, a text on functions, published in 1748, and the Institutiones calculi differentialis, about differential calculus, published in 1755.

The political climate in Russia improved by 1766, when Euler returned to the St Petersburg Academy. By this time, Euler has also lost his sight, yet he continued to work, having practised writing on a large slate when his sight began to deteriorate.

He spent the rest of his life in St Petersburg, where he died on 18 September, 1783, of a brain hemorrhage.

Tina Costanza has held senior editorial positions at daily newspapers in Ottawa and Toronto