BIOT, Jean Baptiste

BIOT, Jean Baptiste. Paris 21.4.1774 — Paris 3.2.1862. French Historian of Science, especially Astronomy. Son of a treasury official, Joseph B., joined the army in 1792, but sent to home because of failing health in 1794. Graduated as an engineer and taught Mathematics from 1797 in Beauvais, from 1799 at the Polytéchnique. From 1800 Professor of Mathematic Physics at Collège de France, 1809 Professor of Astronomy at Sorbonne (Faculté des sciences), in 1816-26 also taught physics, together with Gay-Lussac. Académie des sciences 1803. Married Gabrielle Brisson, their only child was the Sinologist Édouard-Constant Biot (1803–1850; a pioneer of the study on Chinese social and economic history).

Biot’s special field was astronomy, including the history of astronomy. As early as in 1829 he studied Egyptian astronomy (again 1846-53), and 1840 he started research on the history of Chinese and Indian astronomy. Even in his time, his poor competence in Oriental scholarship was failing him, but other expertise compensed it. Travelled in Europe. Also well-known as mathematician and physician.

Publications: Études sur l’astronomie indienne et sur l’astronomie chinoise. 450 p. P. 1862 (from articles published in the JS 1859–62); also wrote on the history of Egyptian astronomy and much on science.

Sources: C. Diény, D.O.L.F. 110f.; *Dawson & Uphill, Who Was Who in Egyptology; Gosche, ZDMG, Wiss. Jb. for 1862-67, 71; *Jaubert, Le Correspondent N.S. 19, 1862, 371-379; *Lionville, JS 1862, 251f.; *É. Picard, La vie et l’œuvre de JBB. 1927; Wikipedia (with two pictures, more details in French version).

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