Encyclopedia of Continuum Mechanics

Living Edition
| Editors: Holm Altenbach, Andreas Öchsner

Bernoulli, Daniel

  • Holm AltenbachEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-53605-6_286-1

Daniel Bernoulli (January 29th, jul./February (8th, greg.), 1700, in Groningen, Dutch Republic; †March 17th, 1782, in Basel, Switzerland) was a Swiss mathematician and physicist and one of the many prominent scientists in the Bernoulli family. He is known for his contributions to the beam theory and fluid mechanics. He is also well-known for his pioneering work in probability and statistics.

Early Years and Education

Bernoulli was the son of the mathematician Johann Bernoulli and his wife Dorothea Falkner. The mathematician Nikolaus II Bernoulli was his brother and the mathematician Jakob I. Bernoulli his uncle. The early years he spent in the Netherlands. In the age of 5 years his family settled in Basel.

When Bernoulli was 16, he entered the University of Basel studying medicine and mathematics. In 1718 he moved to Heidelberg and in 1719 to Strasbourg. After his return to Basel, he earned his PhD in medicine in 1720. Since he did not get any appointment for a professorship, he realized a scientific trip to Venice in 1723.

Professional Carrier

His first mathematical publication was devoted to a card game. He continued with studies on the Riccati equation. In 1725 he was together with his brother Nikolaus elected as a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Saint Petersburg). In a letter to Christian Goldbach (October 6, 1729), for the first time Bernoulli suggested a representation of the Gamma function. He was not satisfied with his work and the city and so by illness reason he left in 1733 St. Petersburg. After returning to Basel, he started his university career up to the end of his life. At first he was appointed as a professor of anatomy and botany. After 10 years he was a professor of anatomy and physiology. In 1750 he got the chair of physics, which was his dream for a long time. He acted two times (1744 and 1756) as a vice chancellor of the university. In 1733 he was elected as a foreign honorary member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and in 1747 as a foreign member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences, in 1748 of the French Academy of Sciences, and in 1950 of the Royal Society of London.

Scientific Achievements

His bad relations to his father was based on the participation of both in a competition of the French Academy of Science. They shared the first place, but his father was unhappy that he was compared with his son. Daniel Bernoulli was ten times the winner of this prestigious price.

In 1738 he published his main book Hydrodynamica. The results were published also by his father in Hydraulica which was plagiarism. Daniel Bernoulli was a close friend of Leonhard Euler. So they developed together the Euler-Bernoulli beam theory. In 1726, for the first time he presented the split of translational and rotational motions. This was made in a similar manner like in Lagrange’s Méchanique Analytique: all results are based on one principle only (here the energy conservation).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fakultät für Maschinenbau, Institut für MechanikOtto-von-Guericke-Universität MagdeburgMagdeburgGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • Holm Altenbach
    • 1
  1. 1.Fakultät für Maschinenbau, Institut für MechanikOtto-von-Guericke-Universität MagdeburgMagdeburgGermany