Maupertuis, Pierre Louis Moreau de[mohpertwee]
Mathematician, born in St Malo, W France. A member of the Académie de Sciences from 1731, he led the French Academicians sent to Lapland in 1736 to measure the length of a degree of the meridian, in order to verify Newton's theories of the shape of the Earth. Frederick II made him president of the Berlin Academy in 1746. Maupertuis is best known for his "principle of least action' in mechanics, and formed a theory of heredity which was a century ahead of its time.