Portrait of Daniel Bernoulli, c.1720-1725. Oil painting on canvas photo sourced from Wikimedia commons

Top 10 Interesting Facts about Daniel Bernoulli


A man by the name of Daniel Bernoulli discovered the mathematical principles behind how an aeroplane flies about 200 years before aeroplanes themselves were even created. Daniel Bernoulli was a physician and mathematician who came from a distinguished line of 18th-century Swiss mathematicians.

Not only did Bernoulli understand the physics of flight, but he also made findings on gases that subsequently served as the basis for contemporary atomic theory.

On February 8th, 1700, in the Dutch city of Groningen, Daniel Bernoulli was born. He was one of three boys born to famed mathematician Johann Bernoulli. His uncles were renowned mathematicians as well.

Mathematicians included his siblings and two nephews. Johann relocated his family to Basel, Switzerland when Daniel was still a little boy so that he could work as a mathematics professor at the university there. Here are the top 10 interesting facts about him

1. Bernoulli was a Swiss mathematician and physicist

Daniel Bernoulli. Engraving photo sourced from Wikimedia commons

Daniel Bernoulli was a famous Swiss mathematician and physicist. He was one of the many prominent mathematicians in the Bernoulli family. He is mostly remembered for his claims of mathematics to mechanics, especially fluid mechanics and his ground-breaking work in probability and statistics.

2. Bernoulli was born into a family of distinguished mathematicians

Johann Bernoulli photo by Rijksmuseum – Wikimedia commons

Daniel Bernoulli was one of the many prominent mathematicians in the Bernoulli family from Basel. Daniel was the son of Johann Bernoulli (one of the early developers of calculus) and a nephew of Jacob Bernoulli (an early researcher in probability theory and the discoverer of the mathematical constant “e”).

He had two brothers, Niklaus and Johann II. Daniel Bernoulli was described by W. W. Rouse Ball as “by far the ablest of the younger Bernoulli’s.”

Although he came from a dynasty of mathematicians, they were prone to rivalry and jealousy.

3. His father attempted to force him into a business career

Niklaus Bernoulli photo sourced from Wikimedia commons

Johann Bernoulli had tried to force his son to study business, just like what his father did to him. All of his siblings studied mathematics but his father planned a different course for him.

At the age of 13, Daniel was sent to Basel University to earn a degree in philosophy and logic. He obtained his baccalaureate examinations in 1715. While studying philosophy he began learning calculus from his father and older brother, Niklaus.

He earned his master’s degree in 1716.

4. He earned a PhD in botany and anatomy

After Daniel had studied business according to his father’s wishes, his father again asked him to study medicine. Daniel agreed to do so on the condition that his dad would teach him mathematics privately. Daniel studied medicine in Basel and 1721, he earned his PhD in botany and anatomy.

Daniel did not have a good relationship with his father because his father was embarrassed when he and Daniel tied for first place at a scientific contest at the University of Paris. Despite, trying very hard to reconcile with his father, his father kept a grudge until the time he passed away.

5. Daniel published his masterpiece Hydrodynamica in 1738

frontpage of w:en: Daniel Bernoulli’s “HYDRODYNAMICA” (1738). photo sourced from Wikimedia commons

In 1738, Bernoulli published Hydrodynamica. In this treatise, which was far in advance of his time in many ways, is his famous equation governing the flow of fluids in terms of speed, pressure and potential energy, upon which much modern technology is based, especially aerodynamics.

Being interested in practical application as well as in theory, he devised several experiments which demonstrated the effects he predicted.

His reputation was established after Hydrodynamica was published. He put forward what is called Bernoulli’s principle, which states that the pressure in a fluid decreases as its velocity increases.

He also established the basis for the kinetic theory of gases and heat by demonstrating that the impact of molecules on a surface would explain pressure and that assuming the constant, random motion of molecules, pressure and motion increase with temperature.

6. His name is commemorated in Bernoulli’s principle

Daniel Bernoulli’s name is celebrated in the Bernoulli principle, a specific example of the conservation of energy, which describes the mathematics of the mechanism of the basic operation of two important technologies used in the 20th century: the carburettor and the aeroplane wing.

The principle named after Daniel Bernoulli states that an increase in the speed of the fluid occurs simultaneously with a decrease in static pressure or a decrease in the fluid’s potential energy. The phenomenon is usually the reason why aircraft wings provide lift.

7. Daniel was a contemporary and close friend of Leonhard Euler

Leonhard Euler photo by Jakob Emanuel Handmann – Wikimedia commons

Euler was a Swiss mathematician, physicist, astronomer, geographer, logician and Engineer who founded the studies of graph theory and topology.

Bernoulli was a close friend of Leonhard Euler. He worked with Euler on elasticity and the development of the Euler-Bernoulli beam equation.

8. He won 10 prizes from the Paris Academy of sciences

Bernoulli won or shared 10 prizes at the Paris Academy of Sciences, a feat equalled by only one other person, his friend and rival Leonhard Euler. The Paris Academy awarded yearly prizes to scientists and inventors in various academic categories.

Daniel was awarded multiple Paris Academy prizes for his ideas over the years. In 1725, for instance, he won the grand prize for his design of a nautical hourglass that could compensate for the motions of a ship when it was at sea.

9. He lived for his work and never married

He lived for his work, he never married and had no children. He considered marriage when he was younger but the woman in question turned out to be very mean with money, which he found off-putting. Bernoulli respected simplicity of lifestyle and frugality, but not meanness.

In the end, he valued his freedom and a quiet, peaceful, academic way of life too much to marry.

Daniel Bernoulli died aged 82 on March 17, 1782, in his sleep in Basel, Switzerland.

10. Bernoulli was inducted into the Air Hall of Fame

In 2002, Daniel Bernoulli was inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space museum. The International Air & Space Hall of Fame is an honour roll for people, groups, organizations or things that have contributed to the advancement of aerospace flight and technology, sponsored by the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

Since its founding in 1963, over 200 individuals have been inducted into the Hall, with new additions inaugurated at an annual gala.