Talk:Joseph Fourier

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Hello[edit]

Hello. There is some ambiguity about the scope of Fourier's results in Théorie analytique de la chaleur. Whether "any function" has a Fourier series depends on the class of functions considered; I suspect the early 19th c. idea of "any function" was more limited than today. I think it would very helpful for someone to find a copy of Fourier's Théorie and see what he claimed, and what he proved. Maybe I can remember to do that next time I'm at the library. Regards & happy editing, Wile E. Heresiarch 19:48, 19 Sep 2004 (UTC)


Greenhouse Discovery[edit]

The section on discovery of the greenhouse effect is rife with problems. ("Windows" in a "cork lining" of a "vase" ???). All deep confusion aside, there is an obviously troubling declaration that somehow Fourier's "conclusion" may have contributed to the nomenclature "greenhouse effect". This assertion is not accompanied by a citation and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in the text of the article logically supports the assertion. I recommend it either be clarified and cited, or deleted. This would be a small but necessary improvement to the jumbled and faulty thinking of the entire ghe section. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.198.87.153 (talk) 06:44, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

Fourier credited with the GH effect? Utter rubish! Even the link given to Cowie, J. (2007). Climate Change: Biological and Human Aspects only says "Fourier... is generally credited with the discovery of the greenhouse effect", that (very weak) statement cannot even support itself, it is not a statement suitable for an encyclopedia! I will delete it shortly if no suitable defence is made. --Damorbel (talk) 08:24, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

Origins of GHE[edit]

(William M. Connolley 12:08, 22 Jan 2005 (UTC)) There appears to be some confusion about the date of origin of the GHE. Fouriers 1827 article is a reprint of an 1824 one, so 1827 is wrong. It might be earlier than 1824 anyway, I've seen no evidence that there wasn't earlier stuff. Whether Fourier was even the first is unclear. Fourier didn't use the term of course. >>Which 1824 article was reprinted as Fourier (1827) in which journal or compilation? It isn't quoted here because it does not exist - not any more. The earliest appearance that can be verified is the 1827 article - and this adds significantly to the real Fourier (1824) article translated by Burgess in 1827... —Preceding unsigned comment added by 114.78.185.15 (talk) 05:09, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

Disliking the move[edit]

I dislike the name change. If anyone cares, I vote for moving it back again. L didn't even manage to move this talk page... William M. Connolley 16:31:13, 2005-08-04 (UTC).

The move is just a matter of compliance with Wikipedia conventions to keep people listed under their most commonly used name and not their official full name. see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (common names). As for the talk page, here it is now. Kind regards, --Lenthe 21:52, 4 August 2005 (UTC)

Removal of other work[edit]

I noticed that the section describing Fourier's discovery of the effect of carbon dioxide on heat absorption was removed with no reason given. Would anyone care to explain? WVhybrid 05:03, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

Ive restored it - I cant see why it was removed William M. Connolley 09:57, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

Pronounce[edit]

The pronounce is here: http://forvo.com/word/jean_baptiste_joseph_fourier/. "Fuh-r-i-eee" (with the French "r"). No r sound at the end. Correction: Listen more carefully and you'll hear "Fuh-r-i-yay"

just a try by IPA: ( fuʁjeː ).

It would be nice if someone added that ;-) --Ma'moun —Preceding unsigned comment added by 212.35.90.77 (talk) 20:23, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

better in IPA as from the above link: fuʀje Chjoaygame (talk) 23:28, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

External Link[edit]

I suggest to remove the external link "Fourier 1827: MEMOIRE sur les températures du globe terrestre et des espaces planétaires". The page it links to is studded with inaccurate and distracting remarks. Connolley totally misunderstands what Fourier and other scientists knew at the time, and keeps ranting how wrong he was by using modern information. It would have been a useful link without the remarks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 85.232.194.132 (talk) 14:59, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

vs Arrhenius[edit]

I took out a pile of anon changes [1] However the assertion of Arrhenius (1896) that Fourier thought that the atmosphere acted like the glass of a greenhouse is clearly incorrect. Fourier (1827, p. 587) makes it very clear that... looks very dubious to me. Also Fourier (1827, p. 597) concludes ... negligible contributions from the earth's interior and from stars other than the sun. is wrong: he thought there was a significant contribution from space William M. Connolley (talk) 10:56, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

local editor please check this question[edit]

I read in the present version of the article

In his articles Fourier referred to an experiment by M de Saussure, who exposed a wooden box lined with black cork to sunlight. Three panes of glass were inserted into the cork an inch and a half apart. The temperature became more elevated in the more interior compartments of this device.[1][2]. The nature of this experiment and Fourier's conclusion that gases in the atmosphere could not [bold created in transcription] form a stable barrier like the glass panes may have contributed to atmospheric warming later being known as the 'greenhouse' effect despite the actual mechanism of atmospheric warming being different than that found in an actual greenhouse.

I am not familiar with this article and will leave the local editors my request that they check this out.

First, as I read the translation, the vessel used by de Saussure was a vase, not a box, and a vase must have an open top unless it is adventitiously closed by for example a glass plate, as seems to be the case here. The present wording does not make it easily clear that the top of the vase was closed only by a glass plate. The wording, I think, should be changed to make this clearer.

Second, the word not in the block quote above seems to me to be mistaken here, and it seems to me it should be deleted in order to get the right meaning. Please check this. If I am mistaken, I am sorry to waste your time.Chjoaygame (talk) 05:18, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

Another try to get a local editor to check[edit]

The following word sequence appears in the article:

The nature of this experiment and Fourier's conclusion that gases in the atmosphere could not form a stable barrier like the glass panes may have contributed to atmospheric warming later being known as the 'greenhouse' effect despite the actual mechanism of atmospheric warming being different than that found in an actual greenhouse.

Carefully reading this word sequence, I can only find one way to make sense of it, by putting in some commas, as follows:

The nature of this experiment, and Fourier's conclusion that gases in the atmosphere could not form a stable barrier like the glass panes, may have contributed to atmospheric warming later being known as the 'greenhouse' effect, despite the actual mechanism of atmospheric warming being different than that found in an actual greenhouse.

With this reading, I am again troubled by the presence of the word 'not' in the sentence. My limited understanding, open to correction, is that Fourier thought that the atmosphere could form a stable barrier like the glass panes. This is contrary to the words in the sentence that say "Fourier's conclusion that gases in the atmosphere could not form a stable barrier like the glass panes". Local editor please check whether the word 'not' should be deleted.

As for style of the sentence, as amended with commas: I think that the words "may have contributed to atmospheric warming later being known as the 'greenhouse' effect" need re-construction because their load of verbs and participles is too heavy for a reader to be expected to unscramble. I think the whole sentence should be re-written because it is too complicated as it is. Perhaps it would be better to break it up into several sentences.

Again: as I read the translation, the vessel used by de Saussure was a vase, not a box, and a vase must have an open top unless it is adventitiously closed by for example a glass plate, as seems to be the case here. The present wording does not make it easily clear that the top of the vase was closed only by a glass plate. The wording, I think, should be changed to make this clearer.Chjoaygame (talk) 22:59, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

comment on CousinJohn's edit[edit]

Dear CousinJohn, it is good to see you take an interest in this article. The change from 'than' to 'from' is perhaps a change from an American usage to an English one, but is not insisted upon by the Oxford English Dictionary. In commenting just above, I felt that such a change was not very important, and did not suggest it.

More importantly, however, I think the comments I made just above need attention. The change from 'than' to 'from' does not really address the problems that I commented on just above. Those problems are (1) difficulty for the reader in reading the complex sentence, (2) concern that "not" seems quite wrong, and (3) that the top opening of the box is not made very clear by the present wording.Chjoaygame (talk) 05:38, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

Governor of Lower Egypt? Inaccuracies. Lack of authoritative references/sources cited.[edit]

The Life section reads: "Fourier went with Napoleon Bonaparte on his Egyptian expedition in 1798, and was made governor of Lower Egypt and secretary of the Institut d'Égypte." Where is the evidence that Fourier was ever made governor? This article has many inaccuracies, and a lot of unsubstantiated details passed off as fact. The text also does not flow well.

The Théorie analytique de la chaleur section needs a lot of work. For instance, "In mathematics, Fourier claimed that any function of a variable, whether continuous or discontinuous, can be expanded in a series of sines of multiples of the variable. Though this result is not correct,..." As another reader suggests, this should be based on what Fourier actually claimed in his various writings on heat flow. Also, recent work by Lennart Carleson and others suggests that Fourier was far more right than he knew! Also, a fact often overlooked is that Fourier, in his 1822 book (Théorie analytique de la chaleur), also stipulated that such functions have to be finite in extent. In doing so, he presaged Dirchlet's 1829 work which laid out sufficient conditions for the existence of Fourier series.

To satisfy any claim of balance, the article has far too much space devoted to the greenhouse effect, since Fourier's contributions to mathematics are much more significant. Alastair Roxburgh.

In the absence of any proof, I have removed the mention of "Governor of Lower Egypt". Alastair Roxburgh — Preceding unsigned comment added by 76.176.184.100 (talk) 23:39, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

seems appropriate, not sure why a mathmeticion would be made governor. What would you suggest for balancing the rest of the article out?MilkStraw532 (talk) 23:43, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

Fourier was left in charge of Egypt when Napolean fled after the Battle of the Nile. Not only that, he had escaped the guoltine twice! See MacTutor http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Fourier.html See Not bad for a mathematician, eh! A B McDonald (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 15:53, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

I can't see there any mention of "left in charge". It is said that he was _a_ supervisor in the establishment of a french-style administration and that he was a manager of scientific discoveries.--LutzL (talk) 16:40, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
I strongly agee. -Alastair Roxburgh — Preceding unsigned comment added by 75.148.94.222 (talk) 23:00, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

A B McDonald, please take a look at the MacTutor reference you mentioned: Here's all that it says in relation to Fourier and Egypt: "In 1798 Fourier joined Napoleon's army in its invasion of Egypt as scientific adviser.... Fourier acted as an administrator as French type political institutions and administration was set up. In particular he helped establish educational facilities in Egypt and carried out archaeological explorations.... Fourier was elected secretary to the Institute, a position he continued to hold during the entire French occupation of Egypt. Fourier was also put in charge of collating the scientific and literary discoveries made during the time in Egypt.... Fourier returned to France in 1801 with the remains of the expeditionary force..." — Preceding unsigned comment added by 75.148.94.222 (talk) 23:10, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

miew York ?[edit]

There seems to be an editting mishap (possibly missing ref tag) in the Rosetta Stone section, second paragraph. Look for "helped by Fourier to gain exemption from miew York". Fwend (talk) 12:39, 12 January 2013 (UTC)

"the flow of heat between two adjacent molecules is proportional to the extremely small difference of their temperatures."[edit]

IMHO this sentence incorrectly presumes that the theory of molecules was known and accepted at the time of Fourier. And I guess it is simply unduly complicated: the flow of heat (energy) is simply proportional to the temperture "gradient", the temperature difference per unit of length. Intutively one will understand that more heat will flow through a - say - 1 cm thick slab if the temperature difference between one side and the other is 100 degrees than if it is just one degree. The "steepness" of the temperature difference is decisive. Rbakels (talk) 19:32, 25 September 2013 (UTC)

A poorly written article full of inaccuracies, with a lot of unsubstantiated details passed off as fact, and with a lack of authoritative references[edit]

For example: The Life section used to read: "Fourier went with Napoleon Bonaparte on his Egyptian expedition in 1798, and was made governor of Lower Egypt and secretary of the Institut d'Égypte." Where is the evidence that Fourier was ever made governor? I have read the majority of authoritative Eng. sources on Joseph Fourier (and am working my way through many of the French ones, which has been particularly gratifying and useful because they bypass a layer of translation and potential morphing of meaning.) Nowhere have I seen any mention of Fourier being "governor of Lower Egypt." Therefore I have taken the liberty of removing this non-fact. This is actually the second time that I've done this, but someone must like the sound of the phrase, or they would not have re-inserted it. Liking a phrase such as this more than the historical reality has no place in historical writing. This text was reverted by someone, but without that someone adding a comment to my comment in the relevant Talk section. Moreover, ref [2], which purports to support the governor thing doesn't work. I would not be surprised if this can ever be traced back, that the original claim of Fourier's governorship was in some poorly researched and romantic piece of hobby writing.

The Théorie analytique de la chaleur section also needs a lot of work. For instance, "In mathematics, Fourier claimed that any function of a variable, whether continuous or discontinuous, can be expanded in a series of sines of multiples of the variable. Though this result is not correct,..." As another reader suggests, this should be based on what Fourier actually claimed in his various writings on heat flow. Also, recent work by mathematicians Lennart Carleson and others suggests that Fourier was far more right than he knew (regarding arbitrary functions having Fourier series)! Also, a fact often overlooked is that Fourier, in his 1822 book (Théorie analytique de la chaleur), stipulated that such functions have to be finite in extent. In doing so, he presaged (and probably influenced) Dirchlet's 1829 work which laid out sufficient conditions for the existence of Fourier series.

AS I have mentioned before, there is too much "greenhouse effect" for balance in this article. After all, Fourier is considered to be the progenitor of an entire field of mathematics (real analysis), not to mention the first person to derive the correct form of the heat equation, who pioneered methods still used today for solving partial differential equations, who invented Fourier series and the Fourier transform, who pioneered some of the math notation we use, who helped develop the theory of equations, who was the first person to calculate a realistic age of the Earth, who was the first to apply dimensional analysis to math solutions to physical problems. And this doesn't get into his works as scientific adviser to Napoleon in Egypt, and as prefect of the Fr. department of lsère. Against all of this and much more, the greenhouse effect, although important, was just a footnote.

I do not have time to work on a rewrite of this article, as I am working on another Fourier writing project, which due to its scale takes all of my writing time. And if I can be permitted to be brutally honest about this article, it really should be deleted, and put out of its misery, rather than corrected. Google will quickly give you access to at least a dozen quality accounts of Joseph Fourier and his works. Perhaps the article should, for now, just be replaced by some links to better articles.

Alastair Roxburgh — Preceding unsigned comment added by 75.148.94.222 (talk) 22:55, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

Oh, ...and the timeline makes no mention of Fourier's 1811/1812 math prize for his theory of heat. I think some other details in the timeline are suspect and/or missing as well. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 75.148.94.222 (talk) 23:02, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^ fr:Horace-Bénédict de Saussure