You are here

Mathematical Treasure: Daniel Bernoulli’s Hydrodynamica

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University)

Daniel Bernoulli (1700-1782), a member of the famous Swiss family of mathematicians and scientists, was noted himself as an accomplished mathematician and physicist. His Hydrodynamica, published in 1738, is considered his most important work. As its name implies, the book described the mechanics of moving water. Applying the principles of mechanics and observing the conservation of energy, Bernoulli also derived the basic laws for the behavior of gases. Mathematics was now becoming an “applied” discipline.

The illustration on Bernoulli's first page of text (below) depicts devices dependent on the power of flowing water. Can you identify them together with their usage?

These images are supplied through the cooperation of The Treasures of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Library Collection. The individual images were photographed by Mr. Sean Linehan.

Frank J. Swetz (The Pennsylvania State University), "Mathematical Treasure: Daniel Bernoulli’s Hydrodynamica," Convergence (January 2015)