Eugène Maurice Pierre Cosserat

Born: 4 March 1866 in Amiens, France
Died: 31 May 1931 in Toulouse, France

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Cosserat was educated first in Amiens, then at the age of 17, he entered the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. After graduating he was appointed to the Observatory in Toulouse in 1886. Ten years later he became professor of differential calculus at the Faculty of Science at Toulouse.

In 1908 Cosserat was appointed to the chair of astronomy at Toulouse, becoming director of the Observatory there for the rest of his life.

Although he was not living in Paris, Cosserat was elected to the Académie des Sciences in 1919 and, four years later, to the Bureau de Longitude. Because he was in Toulouse he was made a non-resident, corresponding member of these organisations.

In [1] Cosserat is described as follows:-

A reserved, kindly man and a diligent worker, Cosserat was one of the moving forces in the University of Toulouse for thirty five years.
Cosserat worked on astronomy and mathematics. In the first part of his career he made observations of double stars, observed planets and comets and did research in geometry. His doctoral dissertation extended Plücker's concept of generation by means of straight lines. He considered infinitesimal properties of space generated by circles.

In his later work, Cosserat studied the deformation of surfaces which led him to a theory of elasticity. This work was carried out in collaboration with his brother who was an engineer. He studied functional equations of the sphere and ellipsoid before Fredholm.

Cosserat also worked on mechanics based on euclidean laws and built into an original and coherent theory. However his work in this area, although important at the time, was overtaken by the theory of relativity and other advances in theoretical physics.

References (2 books/articles)

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JOC/EFR February 1997