Beraud, Laurence

, a French mathematician and astronomer, was born at Lyons, March 5, 1703, entered among the Jesuits, and became professor of humanity at Vienne and at Avignon, and of mathematics and philosophy at Aix. In 1740 he was invited to Lyons and appointed professor of mathematics, director of the observatory, and keeper of the medals and the same year he became astronomer to the academy, the memoirs of which are enriched by a great many of his observations, particularly that on the passage of Mercury on the Sun, May 6, 1753, during which he saw and demonstrated the luminous ring round that planet, which had escaped the notice of all the astronomers for ten years before. In all his results, he entirely agreed with Lalande, who had made the same observations at Paris, and with the celebrated Cassini. All his observations, indeed, are creditable to his talents, and accord with those of the most eminent astronomers. | Among his other papers, inserted in the memoirs of the academy, we find several on vegetation, on the evaporation of liquids, and the ascent of vapours, on light, a physical theory on the rotation of the earth and the inclination of its axis, &c. In meteorology, he published observations on the tubes of thermometers, with an improvement in the construction of them, which was the subject of three memoirs read in the academy of Lyons in 1747. He has also endeavoured to account for metals reduced to calcination weighing heavier than in their former state, and maintains, against Boyle, that fire is incapable of giving this additional weight, and likewise refutes the opinion of those who attribute it to air, or to substances in the air which the action of fire unites to the metal in fusion. This memoir was honoured with the prize by the academy of Bourdeaux in 1747, and contained many opinions which it would have been difficult to contradict before the experiments of Priestley, Lavoisier, and Morveau. In 1748, he received the same honour, from that academy, for a paper in which he maintained the connexion between magnetism and electricity, assigning the same cause to both. In 1760, he received a third prize from the same academy, for a dissertation on the influences of the moon on vegetation and animal oeconomy. Beraud was also a corresponding member of the academy of sciences in Paris, and several of his papers are contained in their memoirs, and in those of the academy of Lyons. He wrote several learned dissertations on subjects of antiquity. On the dissolution of the society of Jesuits, he left his country for some time, as he could not conscientiously take the oaths prescribed, and on his return, notwithstanding many pressing offers to be restored to the academy, he preferred a private life, never having recovered the shock which the abolition of his order had occasioned. In this retirement he died June 26, 1777. His learning and virtues were universally admired he was of a communicative disposition, and equal and candid temper, both in his writings and private life. Montucla, Lalande, and Bossu, were his pupils and father Lefevre of the Oratory, his successor in the observatory of Lyons, pronounced his eloge in that academy, which was printed at Lyons, 1780, 12mo. The Dict. Hist, ascribed to Beraud, a small volume, “La Physique des corps animus,” 12mo. 1


Biog. Universelle. —Dict. Hist.