>From the parish school Gauss went to the Catherine Gymnasium, although his father doubted whether he could afford the money. Bartels had gone there before him, and they read the higher mathematics. Gauss also devoted much of his time to acquiring the ancient and modern languages. >From there he passed to the Carolinean College in the spring of 1792. Shortly before this the Duke Charles William Ferdinand of Braunschweig among others had noticed his talents, and promised to further his career.
In 1793 he published his first papers; and in the autumn of 1795 he entered the University of Gottingen. At this time he was hesitating between the pursuit of philology or mathematics; but his studies became more and more of the latter order. He discovered the division of the circle, a problem published in his DISQUISITIONES ARITHMETICAE, and henceforth elected for mathematics. The method of least squares, was also discovered during his first term. On arriving home the duke received him in the friendliest manner, and he was promoted to Helmstedt, where with the assistance of his patron he published his DISQUISITIONES.
On January 1, 1801, Piazzi, the astronomer of Palermo, discovered a small planet, which he named CERES FERDINANDIA, and communicated the news by post to Bode of Berlin, and Oriani of Milan. The letter was seventy-two days in going, and the planet by that time was lost in the glory of the sun, By a method of his own, published in his THEORIA MOTUS CORPORUM COELESTIUM, Gauss calculated the orbit of this planet, and showed that it moved between Mars and Jupiter. The planet, after eluding the search of several astronomers, was ultimately found again by Zach on December 7, 1801, and on January 1, 1802. The ellipse of Gauss was found to coincide with its orbit.
This feat drew the attention of the Hanoverian Government, and of Dr. Olbers, the astronomer, to the young mathematician. But some time elapsed before he was fitted with a suitable appointment. The battle of Austerlitz had brought the country into danger, and the Duke of Braunschweig was entrusted with a mission from Berlin to the Court of St. Petersburg. The fame of Gauss had travelled there, but the duke resisted all attempts to bring or entice him to the university of that place. On his return home, however, he raised the salary of Gauss.
At the beginning of October 1806, the armies of Napoleon were moving towards the Saale, and ere the middle of the month the battles of Auerstadt and Jena were fought and lost. Duke Charles Ferdinand was mortally wounded, and taken back to Braunschweig. A deputation waited on the offended Emperor at Halle, and begged him to allow the aged duke to die in his own house. They were brutally denied by the Emperor, and returned to Braunschweig to try and save the unhappy duke from imprisonment. One evening in the late autumn, Gauss, who lived in the Steinweg (or Causeway), saw an invalid carriage drive slowly out of the castle garden towards the Wendenthor. It contained the wounded duke on his way to Altona, where he died on November 10, 1806, in a small house at Ottensen, 'You will take care,' wrote Zach to Gauss, in 1803, 'that his great name shall also be written on the firmament.'
For a year and a half after the death of the duke Gauss continued in Braunschweig, but his small allowance, and the absence of scientific company made a change desirable. Through Olbers and Heeren he received a call to the directorate of Gottingen University in 1807, and at once accepted it. He took a house near the chemical laboratory, to which he brought his wife and family. The building of the observatory, delayed for want of funds, was finished in 1816, and a year or two later it was fully equipped with instruments.
In 1819, Gauss measured a degree of latitude between Gottingen and Altona. In geodesy he invented the heliotrope, by which the sunlight reflected from a mirror is used as a "sight" for the theodolite at a great distance. Through Professor William Weber he was introduced to the science of electro-magnetism, and they devised an experimental telegraph, chiefly for sending time signals, between the Observatory and the Physical Cabinet of the University. The mirror receiving instrument employed was the heavy prototype of the delicate reflecting galvanometer of Sir William Thomson. In 1834 messages were transmitted through the line in presence of H.R.H. the Duke of Cambridge; but it was hardly fitted for general use. In 1883 (?) he published an absolute system of magnetic measurements.
On July 16, 1849, the jubilee of Gauss was celebrated at the University; the famous Jacobi, Miller of Cambridge, and others, taking part in it. After this he completed several works already begun, read a great deal of German and foreign literature, and visited the Museum daily between eleven and one o'clock.