For all the math nerds out there...

Leonhard Euler works on a problem in spherical geometry in a letter to his colleague Pierre Maupertuis (MA 3872.4).

Leonhard Euler was perhaps the foremost mathematician of the 18th century. He made major contributions to the fields of calculus, mechanics, fluid dynamics, optics, and astronomy. Born in Switzerland, he spent much of his life in Berlin and St. Petersburg. The Morgan holds a series of 99 letters he wrote to his colleague, the French mathematician Pierre Maupertuis, while they were both part of the Berlin Academy under Frederick the Great. In this letter, dated July 4, 1744, Euler is working on a problem in spherical geometry.

In addition to complicated discussions about mathematics, Euler's letters to Maupertuis provide an insider's view of some of the academic squabbles of the 18th century. Euler was involved in the "least action" controversy, the notorious disagreement between Maupertuis and Samuel Koenig that led to Koenig's expulsion from the Berlin Academy and Voltaire's break with Frederick the Great. Who knew the world of mathematics was this tempestuous?

For more about this collection of letters, click here.

The Leon Levy Foundation is generously underwriting a major project to upgrade catalog records for the Morgan's collection of literary and historical manuscripts. The project is the most substantive effort to date to improve primary research information on a portion of this large and highly important collection.

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