Celebrating 18 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “Environmental extremists ... wouldn’t let you build a house unless it looked like a bird’s nest.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index F > Baron Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier Quotes

Thumbnail of Baron Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier (source)
Baron Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier
(21 Mar 1768 - 16 May 1830)

French mathematician, Egyptologist and administrator who made many contributions to mathematical physics, and is remembered for the Fourier series.


Science Quotes by Baron Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier (9 quotes)

Engraving of Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier - head and shoulders - colorization © todayinsci.com
Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier
colorization © todayinsci (Terms of Use) (source)

Please respect the colorization artist’s wishes and do not copy this image for ONLINE use anywhere else.

Thank you.

For offline use, click Terms of Use tab on top menu.

Il ne peut y avoir de langage plus universel et plus simple, plus exempt d’erreurs et d’obscurités, c'est-à-dire plus digne d'exprimer les rapports invariables des êtres naturels.
There cannot be a language more universal and more simple, more free from errors and obscurities, … more worthy to express the invariable relations of all natural things. [About mathematical analysis.]
— Baron Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier
From Théorie Analytique de la Chaleur (1822), xiv, translated by Alexander Freeman in The Analytical Theory of Heat (1878), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Error (230)  |  Express (32)  |  Free (59)  |  Invariable (4)  |  Language (155)  |  Mathematical Analysis (5)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Obscurity (18)  |  Relation (96)  |  Simple (111)  |  Universal (70)  |  Worthy (21)

La chaleur pénètre, comme la gravité, toutes les substances de l’univers, ses rayons occupent toutes les parties de l’espace. Le but de notre ouvrage est d’exposer les lois mathématiques que suit cet élément. Cette théorie formera désormais une des branches les plus importantes de la physique générale.
Heat, like gravity, penetrates every substance of the universe, its rays occupy all parts of space. The object of our work is to set forth the mathematical laws which this element obeys. The theory of heat will hereafter form one of the most important branches of general physics.
— Baron Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier
From 'Discours Préliminaire' to Théorie Analytique de la Chaleur (1822), i, translated by Alexander Freeman in The Analytical Theory of Heat (1878), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  All (8)  |  Branch (61)  |  General (92)  |  Gravity (89)  |  Heat (90)  |  Important (124)  |  Law (418)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Occupy (18)  |  Part (146)  |  Penetrate (21)  |  Physics (301)  |  Ray (32)  |  Space (154)  |  Substance (73)  |  Theory (582)  |  Universe (563)

Les causes primordiales ne nous sont point connues; mais elles sont assujetties à des lois simples et constantes, que l’on peut découvrir par l’observation, et dont l’étude est l’objet de la philosophie naturelle.
Primary causes are unknown to us; but are subject to simple and constant laws, which may be discovered by observation, the study of them being the object of natural philosophy.
— Baron Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier
Opening statement from 'Discours Préliminaire' to Théorie Analytique de la Chaleur (1822), i, translated by Alexander Freeman in The Analytical Theory of Heat (1878), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Cause (231)  |  Constant (40)  |  Discover (115)  |  Law (418)  |  Natural Philosophy (21)  |  Object (110)  |  Observation (418)  |  Primary (29)  |  Simple (111)  |  Study (331)  |  Subject (129)  |  Unknown (87)

L’analyse mathématique est aussi étendue que la nature elle-même; elle définit tous les rapports sensibles, mesure les temps y les espaces, les forces, les températures; cette science difficile se forme avec lenteur, mais elle conserve tous les principes quelle a une fois acquis; elle s’accroît et s’affermit sans cesse au milieu de tant de variations et d’erreurs de l’esprit humain.
Mathematical analysis is as extensive as nature itself; it defines all perceptible relations, measures times, spaces, forces, temperatures; this difficult science is formed slowly, but it preserves every principle which it has once acquired; it grows and strengthens itself incessantly in the midst of the many variations and errors of the human mind.
— Baron Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier
From Théorie Analytique de la Chaleur (1822), xiv, translated by Alexander Freeman in The Analytical Theory of Heat (1878), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Acquired (4)  |  Define (29)  |  Difficult (62)  |  Error (230)  |  Extensive (10)  |  Formed (4)  |  Grow (66)  |  Human (445)  |  Incessantly (3)  |  Mathematical Analysis (5)  |  Measure (70)  |  Midst (3)  |  Mind (544)  |  Perceptible (4)  |  Principle (228)  |  Relation (96)  |  Slowly (10)  |  Space (154)  |  Strengthen (13)  |  Temperature (42)  |  Time (439)

L’analyse mathématique … dans l’étude de tous les phénomènes; elle les interprète par le même langage, comme pour attester l’unité et la simplicité du plan de l’univers, et rendre encore plus manifeste cet ordre immuable qui préside à toutes les causes naturelles.
Mathematical analysis … in the study of all phenomena, interprets them by the same language, as if to attest the unity and simplicity of the plan of the universe, and to make still more evident that unchangeable order which presides over all natural causes.
— Baron Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier
From Théorie Analytique de la Chaleur (1822), xv, translated by Alexander Freeman in The Analytical Theory of Heat (1878), 8.
Science quotes on:  |  Attest (2)  |  Cause (231)  |  Evident (14)  |  Interpret (15)  |  Language (155)  |  Mathematical Analysis (5)  |  Natural (128)  |  Order (167)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Same (92)  |  Simplicity (126)  |  Study (331)  |  Unchangeable (7)  |  Unity (43)  |  Universe (563)

Une même expression, dont les géomètres avaient considéré les propriétés abstraites, … représente'aussi le mouvement de la lumière dans l’atmosphère, quelle détermine les lois de la diffusion de la chaleur dans la matière solide, et quelle entre dans toutes les questions principales de la théorie des probabilités.
The same expression whose abstract properties geometers had considered … represents as well the motion of light in the atmosphere, as it determines the laws of diffusion of heat in solid matter, and enters into all the chief problems of the theory of probability.
— Baron Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier
From Théorie Analytique de la Chaleur (1822), translated by Alexander Freeman in The Analytical Theory of Heat (1878), 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Abstract (43)  |  Atmosphere (63)  |  Chief (25)  |  Determine (45)  |  Diffusion (7)  |  Expression (82)  |  Geometer (6)  |  Heat (90)  |  Law (418)  |  Light (246)  |  Matter (270)  |  Motion (127)  |  Probability (83)  |  Problem (362)  |  Property (96)  |  Represent (27)  |  Same (92)  |  Solid (34)  |  Theory (582)

The deep study of nature is the most fruitful source of mathematical discoveries. By offering to research a definite end, this study has the advantage of excluding vague questions and useless calculations; besides it is a sure means of forming analysis itself and of discovering the elements which it most concerns us to know, and which natural science ought always to conserve.
— Baron Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier
Théorie Analytique de la Chaleur, Discours Préliminaire. Translation as in Robert Édouard Moritz, Memorabilia Mathematica; Or, The Philomath's Quotation-book (1914), 89.
Science quotes on:  |  Discovery (591)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Study (331)

The integrals which we have obtained are not only general expressions which satisfy the differential equation, they represent in the most distinct manner the natural effect which is the object of the phenomenon… when this condition is fulfilled, the integral is, properly speaking, the equation of the phenomenon; it expresses clearly the character and progress of it, in the same manner as the finite equation of a line or curved surface makes known all the properties of those forms.
— Baron Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier
Théorie Analytique de la Chaleur (1822), Art. 428, trans. Ivor Grattan-Guinness.
Science quotes on:  |  Equation (69)  |  Integration (12)

There could not be a language more universal and more simple, more exempt from errors and obscurities, that is to say, more worthy of expressing the invariable relations of natural objects. Considered from this point of view, it is coextensive with nature itself; it defines all the sensible relations, measures the times, the spaces, the forces, the temperatures; this difficult science is formed slowly, but it retains all the principles it has once acquired. It grows and becomes more certain without limit in the midst of so many errors of the human mind.
— Baron Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier
From introduction to Theory of Heat as quoted in F.R. Moulton, 'The Influence of Astronomy on Mathematics', Science (10 Mar 1911), N.S. Vol. 33, No. 845, 359.
Science quotes on:  |  Acquired (4)  |  Become (100)  |  Certain (84)  |  Considered (10)  |  Definition (152)  |  Difficult (62)  |  Error (230)  |  Force (194)  |  Grow (66)  |  Human Mind (51)  |  Invariable (4)  |  Language (155)  |  Limit (86)  |  Measure (70)  |  Natural (128)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Object (110)  |  Obscurity (18)  |  Point Of View (26)  |  Principle (228)  |  Relation (96)  |  Retain (10)  |  Science (1699)  |  Sensible (22)  |  Simple (111)  |  Slowly (10)  |  Space (154)  |  Temperature (42)  |  Time (439)  |  Universal (70)



Quotes by others about Baron Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier (4)

Derrière la série de Fourier, d’autres séries analogues sont entrées dans la domaine de l’analyse; elles y sont entrées par la même porte; elles ont été imaginées en vue des applications.
After the Fourier series, other series have entered the domain of analysis; they entered by the same door; they have been imagined in view of applications.
La valeur de la science. In Anton Bovier, Statistical Mechanics of Disordered Systems (2006), 74.
Science quotes on:  |  Series (38)

[Referring to Fourier’s mathematical theory of the conduction of heat] … Fourier's great mathematical poem…
In W. Thomson and P. G. Tait, Treatise on Natural Philosophy. Reprinted as Principles of Mechanics and Dynamics (2000), 470.
Science quotes on:  |  Biography (227)  |  Heat (90)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Poem (85)  |  Theory (582)

True greatness is when your name is like ampere, watt, and fourier—when it's spelled with a lower case letter.
'You and Your Research', Bell Communications Research Colloquium Seminar, 7 Mar 1986.
Science quotes on:  |  André-Marie Ampère (10)  |  Greatness (34)  |  Letter (36)  |  Name (118)  |  Spelling (2)  |  James Watt (11)

It is true that Fourier had the opinion that the principal end of mathematics was public utility and the explanation of natural phenomena; but a philosopher as he is should have known that the unique end of science is the honor of the human mind and that from this point of view a question of [the theory of] number is as important as a question of the system of the world.
From letter to Legendre, translation as given in F.R. Moulton, 'The Influence of Astronomy on Mathematics', Science (10 Mar 1911), N.S. Vol. 33, No. 845, 359.
Science quotes on:  |  End (141)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Honor (21)  |  Human (445)  |  Important (124)  |  Mathematics (587)  |  Mind (544)  |  Natural (128)  |  Opinion (146)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Philosopher (132)  |  Point Of View (26)  |  Principal (15)  |  Public (82)  |  Question (315)  |  Science (1699)  |  System (141)  |  Theory Of Numbers (2)  |  Unique (24)  |  Utility (23)  |  World (667)


See also:
  • 21 Mar - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Fourier's birth.
  • Joseph Fourier - Biography: Politician & Scientist
  • Joseph Fourier - Glossary for Biography: Politician & Scientist
  • Joseph Fourier - eBibliography for Biography: Politician & Scientist

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
Quotations by:Albert EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about:Atomic  BombBiologyChemistryDeforestationEngineeringAnatomyAstronomyBacteriaBiochemistryBotanyConservationDinosaurEnvironmentFractalGeneticsGeologyHistory of ScienceInventionJupiterKnowledgeLoveMathematicsMeasurementMedicineNatural ResourceOrganic ChemistryPhysicsPhysicianQuantum TheoryResearchScience and ArtTeacherTechnologyUniverseVolcanoVirusWind PowerWomen ScientistsX-RaysYouthZoology  ... (more topics)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton



who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.