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Though a son of poor farmers, neighbors noticed my academic skills and pooled the money necessary to send me to school in Caen.

After mastering applied mathematics by age 18, I sent a letter about the principles of mechanics to D'Alembert, who was so impressed that he found me a teaching post at the Paris Military School.

My major mathematical work in 1812 served as the foundation for modern probability theory, though it paled in comparison to my 5-volume work on celestial mechanics.

For Napoleon, I served as a mathematician on the battlefield and worked on the Commission for Weights and Measures.

When the Bourbons returned to power, they made me a Marquis, and then in 1816 I was elected one of the Forty Immortals of the Academie Francaise.

Though regarded as one of the "greats" in the history of science, on my deathbed I uttered: "What we know is minute; what we are ignorant of is vast."

Answer: Pierre Simon Laplace (1749 - 1827)