Gustave-Adolphe Hirn
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Gustave-Adolphe Hirn
Frédéric Bartholdi's sculpture of Gustave-Adolphe Hirn in Colmar

Gustave-Adolphe Hirn (August 21, 1815 - January 14, 1890) was a French physicist, astronomer. mathematician and engineer who made important measurements of the mechanical equivalent of heat and contributions to the early development of thermodynamics. He further applied his science in the practical development of steam engines.[1]


Hirn was born in Logelbach, near Colmar into the prosperous textile-manufacturing family Haussmann. Baron Haussmann was a cousin. At 19, he entered his grandfather's cotton factory as a chemist. Later he worked as an engineer, and began research on mechanics, especially on calorics. He was made a member of the French Academy of Science in 1867; in 1880 founded a meteorological observatory near Colmar; and later devoted himself to astronomy. Hirn was educated in the shop, and his works are marked by much practical criticism of mere academic theory.[2]

Hirn invented the pandynanometer[] in 1880 and published a theory of the origin and chemical composition of Saturn's rings, exchanging correspondence with Urbain Jean Joseph Leverrier.

He died in Logelbach.



Works by Hirn

  • Hirn G.A. (1849) "Nouvelles recherches sur le frottement des corps solides", Comptes Rendus, 28, p. 290
  • - (1855a) "Etudes sur les principaux phénomènes que présentent les frottements médiats et sur les diverses manières de déterminer la valeur mécanique des matières employées au graissage des machines", Bulletin de la Société Industrielle de Mulhouse, 26, p. 202
  • - (1855b) "Notice sur les lois de la production du calorique par les frottements médiats", Bulletin de la Société Industrielle de Mulhouse, 26, p. 238
  • - (1862) Théorie mécanique de la chaleur (Paris, Lieber)
  • - (1863) Exposition analytique et expérimentale de la théorie de la chaleur (Paris, Mallet Bachelet)
  • - (1869) Analyse de l'univers
  • - (1870) Les paradynamometres
  • - (1872) Mémoire sur les anneaux de Saturne
  • - (1878) Étude sur une classe particuliere de tourbillons
  • - (1882) "Recherches expérimentales sur la relation qui existe entre la résistance de l'air et sa température. Conséquences physiques et philosophiques qui découlent de ces expériences", Mémoires de l'Académie Royale des sciences, des lettres et des beaux-arts de Belgique, 63, p. 91
  • - (1882) La vie future et la science moderne
  • - (1887) "La thermodynamique et le travail chez les êtres vivants", Revue Scientifique, 22, May, (Paris, Bureau des revues), pp. 673-684
  • - (1889) Constitution de l'espace celeste


  • Donkin, B. (1893) "Life and work of G.A. Hirn", Cassier's Magazine, pp. 233-239
  • Gleyse, J. (1997). L'instrumentalisation du corps: Une archéologie de la rationalisation instrumentale du corps, de l'âge classique à l'époque hypermoderne (Collection L'ouverture philosophique). Harmattan. ISBN 2-7384-5452-6. (in French)
  • Smith, C. (1998). The Science of Energy: A Cultural History of Energy Physics in Victorian Britain. Chicago University Press. ISBN 0-226-76421-4.
  • Papanelopoulou, F., 'Gustave-Adolphe Hirn (1815-1890): engineering thermodynamics in mid-nineteenth-century France', British Journal for the History of Science (2006), 39(2), 231-254


  1. ^ Greenhill, A. G. (6 February 1890). "The Life and Work of GA Hirn". Nature. 41 (1058): 323-324. Bibcode:1890Natur..41..323G. doi:10.1038/041323a0.
  2. ^ Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Hirn, Gustave Adolphe" . New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.

External links

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