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Joseph Fourier French mathematician and physicis

Joseph Fourier the Man Behind the Discovery of Greenhouse Effect

Baron Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier (1768-1830) was also known as a Fourier transformer, Egyptologist, and Administrator. Fourier was a French mathematician, and also a physicist. His major influence was on The Analytical Theory of Heat in 1822.

Time and Place of birth

Joseph Fourier was born on March 21, 1768, in Auxerre, France.

Early life

Joseph Fourier was the son of a tailor, in his childhood, Joseph Fourier attended the local military school and was taught by Benedictine monks at The Convent of St. Mark. As his capability in mathematics was outstanding, he became a teacher in the same school.

At the age of 9, he was an orphan. In the year 1780, he went to the Ecole Royale Militaire and mathematics became his real interest. Also, received first prize for his study on Bossut’s in the year 1783.
Joseph Fourier decided to get trained for the priesthood in the year 1787 but continued doing mathematics.


In the year 1793 Fourier joined politics in the local Revolutionary Committee. The results for the politics weren’t good and he tried to quit politics but that wasn’t possible and he was stuck in the revolution. In 1795 Fourier was chosen to go to Paris and study in the Ecole Normale.

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And he joined the first batch and soon after the completion of the course, he joined as a teacher in Ecole Normale but soon switched to Ecole Polytechnique, and in between, he got arrested because of his political involvement but after 1795 he again got back into teaching Polytechnique.

At the Institute of Cairo, he was elected as the secretary till he was in Egypt, side by side kept working on mathematics. Fourier joined Napoleon’s army in 1798. And later, deserted his army and returned to Paris. From 1804 to 1807 he started his important mathematical works.


Joseph Fourier died on 16 May 1830 he had a severe heart condition for quite a while and resulted in his death at the age of 62. Joseph Fourier was buried in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris. In Auxerre, a bronze statue was built.

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Education and Career

In his childhood, he went to a military school, and then became a mathematics teacher in the same school and for higher studies went to Ecole Normale Superieure.

Joseph Fourier was a mathematician with a great distinction. In the Scientific corps, he was denied the position but continued his studies and research in mathematics. Fourier is popular for the Fourier transforms as it includes heat transfer and vibrations.

In one of his papers he explained the study of the conduction of heat, his reasoning was on Newton’s law of cooling which was two-dimensional objects, this work of Joseph Fourier was in his well-known work “Fourier series”.


The Greenhouse Effect

The first person to discover the greenhouse effect was Joseph Fourier; he studied Earth’s temperature from a mathematical point of view. He calculated the temperature day and night, and in summer and winter, and concluded that it would be much warmer.

He also calculated that it would be much colder than it is from the radiation of the sun. When the energy from the sun peeks out and when the atmosphere is transparent to this radiation, which passes by and gives warmth to land and ocean, this energy, in turn, radiates as infra-red radiation. Joseph Fourier also suggested that to sustain life on earth The Greenhouse Effect is necessary.

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Awards & Achievements

  • At the Academie Francaise and at the Academe de Medecin Joseph Fourier was elected in the year 1826.
  • At the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Joseph Fourier was elected as a foreign member in the year 1830 shortly before his death.
  • Joseph Fourier was made a Baron by Napoleon in 1809.


Joseph Fourier was undeniably the most influential mathematician. All of his works, his significant discoveries have made an influence in modern times, his researches have made a huge impact especially the Greenhouse Effect and the Fourier transforms.

Books published

In the year 1822, The Analytical Theory of Heat was published by Joseph Fourier.

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What is Joseph Fourier known for?

Joseph Fourier was well-known for one of his major discoveries The Greenhouse Effect and also was known as a French mathematician, administrator, and Egyptologist.

Where did Joseph Fourier die?

Joseph Fourier died in Paris, France on 16 May 1830.

Was Joseph Fourier married?

Joseph Fourier never got married.

What are the two types of Fourier series?

The two types of Fourier series are the Trigonometric series and the Exponential series, by Joseph Fourier.

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Joseph Fourier for his whole life worked on the theories and one of them we know now is the greenhouse effect, he worked in politics but his interest was always more on mathematics, researches on theories, etc., The great mathematician who has given us so much, on the Eiffel Tower his name has been inscribed.

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