How Laplace transformed …. well … a lot.

If you read a biography of people like Newton, Leibniz or Laplace you start to feel like a dummy. These people were brilliant in so many disciplines that it becomes dizzying. Pierre-Simon Laplace was born in 1749 in Beaumont-en-Auge (where the Calvados resides!) and died in Paris, 1827, three weeks short of his 78th birthday.

He was a genius in math, astronomy and statistics. Considering the last discipline, he held the opinion that humans needed statistics because their minds couldn’t know all positions and velocities. If they could, they would know everything, past and present in an instance. Because they couldn’t, statistics was needed to help us underlings out.

As an astronomer he is supposed to have suggested the possibilities of black holes (due to gravitational collapse) but I’m not sure where or when he did.

In mathematics the Laplace-operator \Delta is named after him. The Laplacian describes something similar to the second derivative in a function with two variables. It tells you how the gradient \nabla (or multidimensional derivative, being a vector) changes in the direct vicinity of the point you’re studying, so \nabla\cdot\nabla=\nabla^2=\Delta.
And of course you have the Laplace-transformation in differential equations, \mathscr{L}f(s)=\int_0^\infty e^{-st}f(t)dt.

Laplace had a son and a daughter. His son died at 85, leaving no children behind. His daughter gave birth to the only grandchild, a girl called Angélique. Het mother died in childbirth, so Laplace’s granddaughter was the only Laplace descendant to survive, although of course with the surname of her father, de Portes.