Georges Louis Leclerc Comte de Buffon

Born: 7 Sept 1707 in Montbard, Côte d'Or, France
Died: 16 April 1788 in Paris, France

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Buffon is an extremely important scientist in the area of natural history. It was an early interest in mathematics which drew Buffon to study science. His needle experiment caused much discussion about probability.
At the age of 20 Buffon discovered the binomial theorem. He corresponded with Cramer on mechanics, geometry, probability, number theory and the differential and integral calculus.

His first work Sur le jeu de franc-carreau introduced differential and integral calculus into probability theory. He next wrote Théorie de la terre and became the most important natural historian of his day having great influence across a wide scientific field.

He is remembered most in mathematics for a probability experiment which he carried out calculating pi by throwing French stick loaves over his shoulder onto a tiled floor and counting the number of times the loaves fell across the lines between the tiles. This experiment caused much discussion among mathematicians which helped towards an understanding of probability.

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JOC/EFR December 1996