in order to verify the Reality of a Meteorite at l'Aigle on the 6th of Floreal of the Year 11 (April 26, 1803)
|On the 6th day of the month of Floreal of the year 11 of the French Republic, that is April 26th, 1803, around 01:00pm, a meteorite exploded in the atmosphere above the city of L'Aigle, in Normandy, and scattered some 3,000 pieces of stone over the countryside. Men and beasts got away with a memorable scare, but nobody and nothing came to serious harm. |
That the meteorite of L'Aigle would remain of momentous importance in the history of science is due to Bonaparte's Interior Minister deciding to dispatch a bright young scientist, Jean-Baptiste Biot, to investigate the "moral and physical circumstances" of the event. Biot, who was not yet thirty, conducted his investigation with the brio of a master detective in a whodunit, and was able to demonstrate once and for all, by sheer logical deductions, a fact which the science of the time had been obstinately denying: that stones of exo-terrestrial origin fell from the sky...
|Jean-Baptiste Biot: The Meteorite Report - 64 pages, 6" x 9"; ISBN: 978-1-60377-086-6; LCCN: 2012956238; Published January 2013.|
|Jean-Baptiste Biot, physicist, astronomer and mathematician, was born April 21, 1774 in Paris. A protégé of the astronomer and mathematician Laplace, Biot became titulary of the chair of mathematical physics at the College de France in 1800, at age 26. In 1804, the year following his report on the fall of the meteorite at L'Aigle, which made him famous all over Europe, he undertook a perilous ascension in a hydrogen balloon with the chemist Louis-Joseph Gay-Lussac (1778-1750) in order to study the properties of the atmosphere, and to determine the inclination of the Earth's magnetic field. In 1812, Biot turned his attention to the study of optics and studied the polarization of light. His work in chromatic polarization and rotary polarization has led to many breakthroughs, such as liquid crystal displays (LCDs), which are used on television and computer screens, and polarizing filters, used in photography.|
Always a "hands-on" scientist, he undertook several expeditions for geodetic measurements in France, Spain, Scotland and Illyria. In 1820, together with Francesco Carlini, he determined for the first time the vertical deflection of the gravity field through measurements at the top of Mont Cenis, in the French Alps.
Also in 1820, together with the physicist Felix Savart, he formulated the law of Biot-Savart, an equation that describes the magnetic field generated by an electric current, relating it to the magnitude, direction, length and proximity of the electric current.
Few scientists were as much honored during their life time as Jean-Baptiste Biot.The name "biotite" was given to a certain kind of mica in honor of his work in optics. The Biot number, a dimensionless number (abbreviated Bi) is used in thermodynamics in heat transfer calculations. A now disused unit of measure of the electric current, the Biot, was also named after him (1 Biot = 10 Ampères).
Besides the French Legion of Honor, and the Prussian Order "Pour le Mérite," he also received the Rumford Medal. He was a member of the Royal Society of London (1815), as well as of the Royal Astronomical Society of London (1832), of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Stockholm (1816), the Academy of Sciences of Saint-Petersburg (1818), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences of Boston (1822), the Philosophical and Literary Academy of Saint Andrews, Scotland (1838), to name but a few...
The year of his death, in 1862, at the age of 88, he published a book of studies on Indian and Chinese astronomy.