Jurij Vega

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Baron Jurij Bartolomej Vega (also correct Veha; official Latin: Georgius Bartholomaei Vecha; German: Georg Freiherr von Vega) (March 23, 1754 – September 26, 1802) was a Slovene mathematician, physicist and artillery officer.


Early life

Born to a farmers family[1] in the small village of Zagorica east of Ljubljana in Slovenia, Jurij was 6 years old when his father Jernej Veha died. Jurij (or George in English) was educated first in Moravče and later in 1767 attended high school for six years in Ljubljana, studying Latin, Greek, religion, German, history, geography, science, and mathematics. At that time there were about 500 students there. He was a schoolfellow of Anton Tomaž Linhart, a Slovenian writer and historian. Jurij completed high school when he was 19, in 1773. After completing Lyceum in Ljubljana he became a navigational engineer. Tentamen philosophicum, a list of questions for his comprehensive examination, was preserved and is available in the Mathematical Library in Ljubljana. The problems cover logic, algebra, metaphysics, geometry, trigonometry, geodesy, stereometry, geometry of curves, ballistics, and general and special physics.

Military service

Jurij left Ljubljana five years after graduation and entered military service in 1780 as Professor of Mathematics at the Artillery School in Vienna. At that time he started to sign his last name as Vega and no longer Veha. When Jurij was 33 he married Josefa Svoboda (Jožefa Swoboda) (1771–1800), a Czech noble from České Budějovice who was 16 at that time.

Vega participated in several wars. In 1788 he served under Austrian Imperial Field-Marshal Ernst Gideon von Laudon (1717–1790) in a campaign against the Turks at Belgrade. His command of several mortar batteries contributed considerably to the fall of the Belgrade fortress. Between 1793 and 1797 he fought French Revolutionaries under the command of Austrian General Dagobert-Sigismond de Wurmser (1724–1797) with the European coalition on the Austrian side. He fought at Fort Louis, Mannheim, Mainz, Wiesbaden, Kehl, and Dietz. In 1795 he had two 30-pound (14 kilogram) mortars cast, with conically drilled bases and a greater charge, for a firing range up to 3000 metres (3300 yards). The old 60 lb (27 kg) mortars had a range of only 1800 m (2000 yd).

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