Joseph Valentin Boussinesq

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Joseph Boussinesq
Joseph Boussinesq.jpg
Joseph Valentin Boussinesq
Born(1842-03-13)13 March 1842
Died19 February 1929(1929-02-19) (aged 86)
Paris, France
Alma materFaculty of Sciences of Paris
Known forBoussinesq approximation in:
water waves
AwardsPoncelet Price, French Academy of Sciences (1871)
Scientific career
InstitutionsFaculty of Sciences of Lille (1872–1886)
Faculty of Sciences of Paris (1896–1918)

Joseph Valentin Boussinesq (pronounced [ʒɔzɛf valɑ̃tɛ̃ businɛsk]; 13 March 1842 – 19 February 1929) was a French mathematician and physicist who made significant contributions to the theory of hydrodynamics, vibration, light, and heat.


From 1872 to 1886, he was appointed professor at Faculty of Sciences of Lille, lecturing differential and integral calculus at Institut industriel du Nord (École centrale de Lille). From 1896 to his retirement in 1918, he was professor of mechanics at Faculty of Sciences of Paris.

John Scott Russell experimentally observed solitary waves in 1834 and reported it during the 1844 Meeting of the British Association for the advancement of science. Subsequently, this was developed into the modern physics of solitons. In 1871, Boussinesq published the first mathematical theory to support Russell's experimental observation, and in 1877 introduced the KdV equation. In 1876, Lord Rayleigh published his mathematical theory to support Russell's experimental observation. At the end of his paper,[1] Lord Rayleigh admitted that Boussinesq's theory came before his.

In 1897, he published Théorie de l'écoulement tourbillonnant et tumultueux des liquides ("Theory of the swirling and agitated flow of liquids"), a work that greatly contributed to the study of turbulence and hydrodynamics.

The word "turbulence" was never used by Boussinesq. He used sentences such as "écoulement tourbillonnant et tumultueux". The first mention of the word "turbulence" in French or English scientific fluid mechanics literature (the word "turbulence" existed in other context) can be found in a paper by Lord Kelvin in 1887.[2]

Books by Joseph Valentin Boussinesq[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lord Rayleigh (1876). On waves. Philosophical Magazine, ser. 5, vol. 1, no. 4: 257-279.
  2. ^ Lord Kelvin (W. Thomson) (1887), "On the propagation of laminar motion through a turbulently moving inviscid liquid", Philosophical Magazine, 24 (149): 342–353, doi:10.1080/14786448708628110

Further reading[edit]