Sophie Germain

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Last updated: June 9, 2019

Sophie Germain was a mathematician, who posed herself as a man because young women were not supposed to be taught math. Sophie Germain was born in Paris, France on April 1, 1776 to Ambroise-Francios Germain and Marie-Madeleine Germain (Lewis). She had one older sister and one younger sister.

Sophie Germain full name is Marie-Sophie Germain. She changed her name to Sophie because in her family her older sister and her mother both had Marie has their first name. At the age of thirteen, she was home bound.She was not allowed to leave her house and go anywhere. Her parents kept her inside the house because of the turmoil of French Revolution (Lewis, White). She began to read stories that were in her father library. One of the stories that really intrigued Sophie was the death of Archimedes of Syracuse. The story read how Archimedes was studying a geometric figure in the sand, when a Roman soldier came by and started to ask him a few questions.

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And when failed to answer the question the Roman soldier asked him, the soldier killed him (White).She was so intrigued by the thought of a man so wrapped up into studying a math symbol that he lost his life doing so. So she decided that if it can capture a person like that, then she would too study it as well. Sophie taught herself geometry, mathematics, and even calculus.

She even taught herself Latin and Greek (Lewis, White). She was so into learning math that no one could stop from learning it. Her parents tried to stop her from reading it but it only pushed her harder to learn more about mathematics.Her parents would take her candles away, and when they did that she would just smuggle some more candles into her room. And her parents would even take her clothes from her (Lewis, White). But her parents finally came around and supported her idea of learning math.

Young women her age was not allowed to know mathematics, especially people who are considered to be middle class. In the eighteenth century in France, a woman was not accepted in universities (Lewis). But Sophie put her mind to the challenge that she would find a way to get into a universities.In 1794, an academy called Ecole Polytechnique opened up. The academy was there to train mathematicians and scientists who wanted to know more about mathematics (Lewis, White). Women were not allowed in there but the owners of the academy allowed the “lecture notes available to all who asked. ” (Lewis).

She took the identity of a former student named Monsieur Antoine-August LeBlanc (Lewis). The teachers did not check to see if that person was staying there or not. Sophie took that name and started to improve more in math.But one of the supervisors that ran the course that Sophie was getting her lectures from saw the improvement and told the student that he want to see him. The faculty member that noticed the improved state of the student was Joseph-Louis Lagrange. He was surprised to see that it was a woman, but he really could care less. After learning that the student was a female he became her friend and her monitor. Sophie began to become interesting in number theory.

She got more into number theory when she read one of Carl Friedrich Gauss’ monumental works. She began working on some of the problems and her showing her proof.In the letter she wrote to the author, she put her proofed in the letter. And she was still using the name M. LeBlanc. He replay backed to her. Around the time Napoleon’s army went through some of German cities, one of the cities that Napoleon went through was one that Gauss lived in.

Sophie found out about that and sent a family-friend General Joseph-Marie Pernety to see if Gauss was safe and to bring him to a safe place. When the family friend found Gauss alive and well he told him that he own his life to Sophie Germain, but he did not know of that person (White).When Gauss found out that he was working with a woman he was very delighted to discover that the person who made a breakthrough in Fermat’s Last theorem was a woman (White). In 1809, the French Academy of Sciences opened a contest to anyone who can figure out and explain the underlying mathematical law (White). Sophie decided to enter into the contest. She entered the contest anonymously, and the first time that she entered she did not win.

The contest was extended two more years because know one got it and they wanted to see who can get it.The second time that Sophie entered in the contest, she got Honorable Mention (White). She was very close on winning but she still had mistakes in her proof.

And the third time that she entered, her paper “Memoir on Vibrations of Elastic Plates” won (White). She did not attended the award ceremony because she thought that if she went to that award then the result of the award would differ. She was finally accepted with the community of scientists and was allowed to attend sessions at the Institute de France (Lewis).

In 1829, Sophie Germain learned that she had breast cancer.She lived on for two more years. On June 27, 1831 she died in her house of breast cancer. Gauss wanted to have an honorary doctorate awarded to Germain, but she died before she could receive the award(Lewis). Sophie have a school named after her in Paris called L Ecole Sophie Germain and she have a street named after her called la rue Germain (Lewis, White). In the book Sophie’s Diary: A Historical Fiction by Dora Musielak, the beginning of the book begins with the Sophie thirteen birthday. It is showing what her mom and dad got her for her birthday.

The book talk and shows her daily routines and what happens during the day. The book even talked about how her favorite place is her father’s library and she picked up the book with the Archimedes story in it and how that fascinated her. The book goes on with how she learned her mathematics.

It also showed what happened in the most important year. The book also have a Historical Note at the final stage of the book. But most of the information in the book relayed the importance of Sophie Germain’s life. It might have some parts of the book that show how she is with her parents and her sisters.So far that I can see the book doesn’t differ from the truth but you might not know what happened in her family, no one would know what was going on between her and her family.Work Cited n.

p. “Sophie Germain” Find Target n. d. Web. 11 Nov 2010. Lewis, Jone Johnson. “ Sophie Germain: Pioneer Women in Mathematics.

” About. com n. d. Web 11 Nov. 2010. Musielak, Dora.

Sophie’s Diary: A historical Fiction. Indiana: Authorhouse, 2008. Print.

White, Penny. “ Mathematician Sophie Germain: She Laid the Foundation for the Construction of Skyscrapers. ” Suite101 Oct. 2009. Web 11 Nov. 2010.


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