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Hacking History: A Scholar Princess

July 23, 2018 - 1:40pm -- Toby
Princess Friederike Charlotte, Herford, Städtisches Museum

Friederike Charlotte von Brandenburg-Schwedt was born during the Age of Reason or Enlightenment with two career choices: marriage or the abbey. Her smarts may have encouraged elders to promote her as an assistant to the Abbess of Herford when only ten years old. Friederike Charlotte was intellectually curious and strengthened her science education during her teens through written correspondence with Leonhard Euler on a variety of topics including mathematics, physics and astronomy.

There is no record of completed homework being sent to Euler but copies of Euler's 234 letters were published during his lifetime in French, the language of the court. The multi-volume work, Letters to a German Princess, On Different Subjects in Physics and Philosophy, was translated into English and published again in 1795. While digital copies are availble, students still enjoy reading the 1795 translation in the Western History and Genealogy Department located on Floor 5, Central Library.

Euler's contributions to mathematics prompted a contemporary to write, "Read Euler, read Euler, he is the master of us all." If you play Sudoku, you have already met Euler. He created "Latin Squares" which were later shaped into a puzzle by Howard Garns and made famous in Japan. Need more of a challenge? Head over to Project Euler for bi-weekly computational math problems.


Submitted by J D on

Have you considered Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia and her corresponndence with Descartes.

Submitted by J D on

Check out "Daughters of the Winter Queen..." by Nancy Goldstone.  It has a nice section on Elizabeth of Bohemia.