Questions tagged [biographical-details]

For questions about the details of a particular scientist's life.

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How did Cramer's work on permutations influence early pre-group theory (particularly the work of Lagrange and Vandermonde)?

In his Réflexions paper, Lagrange is using one of Cramer's results on the Elimination Theory for the proof of a theorem. It seems that Cramer did some early work on the permutations of variables in ...
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Does the word "God" appear regularly in the works of Joseph Lagrange?

In the Religious opinions section of the Wikipedia article on Laplace, there is an excerpt from Antommarchi's "The Last Moments of Napoleon", in which it is written that the name of God appeared ...
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Was Tesla the only scientist whose possessions were confiscated by security services?

Tesla, especially later in his life, was constantly monitored by the FBI. When he died, all his notes and other belongings were taken and, for a very long time, nothing was returned to his family. Has ...
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Were Gauss's 1846 remarks on the distinction between right and left related to orientability of surfaces?

Recently i was striked by a quotation of Gauss from a letter to his student Gerling from the date June 23, 1846. This letter states in very concise words that the distinction between right-handed and ...
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Where can one find the source of Fourier's recollections of his professors?

This link contains excerpts of Fourier's descriptions of some of his math professors but doesn't really provide any source. What's the name of the original document containing these descriptions?
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Dénes Kőnig vs. König's Lemma

In Hungarian you spell the surname of Dénes Kőnig with a double acute accent, whereas Lemma von König is written in German with an umlaut. Why the difference? Is the reason behind it purely ...
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When was the first recorded occurence of irrational and imaginary number usage in number theory?

I saw a letter of Euler to Lagrange congratulating him on his usage of imaginary numbers in the "analysis devoted to rational numbers alone", was that the first known such usage? What was the likely ...
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Were Christoffel symbols used by Riemann?

The answer to the question would appear to be "no" looking at the transcription of Riemann's 1854 Ueber die Hypothesen, welche der Geometrie zu Grunde liegen lecture. However, Bernhard Riemann (1826-...
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6 answers
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Is there any scientist whose work was not recognised during his/her lifetime and was underestimated?

A lot of people have contributed to the development of science (which includes mathematics). I have read that Newton's popularity was powerful enough to dominate the wave-model. Similarly, do we have ...
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1 answer
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Who discovered pigeonhole principle in mathematics?

The principle was used as early as late 1760s by Lagrange but are there any earlier uses of it in math?
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When did the concept of palindromic sequences first appear in mathematics?

I have been reading one of Lagrange's works where he mentions palindromic sequences in the context of Periodic continued fractions. I am wondering if that was the first time that palindromic sequences ...
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What are the context and motivation for Gauss's study of the "Pothenot problem"?

My question refers to p.307-335 of volume 8 of Gauss's werke, which are part of a section of volume 8 which deals with Gauss's applications of complex numbers for geometry. The pages mentioned are ...
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What was Lagrange's contribution to the Knights Tour Problem?

Did Lagrange make any noteworthy contribution to the Knights Tour Problem?
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Was Lagrange aware of Hamiltonian mechanics?

In the book "The Road to Reality", Penrose claims that Joseph Lagrange was aware of Hamiltonian mechanics. Is there any evidence that this statement is true?
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What did Hans Bethe think of von Neumann's quantum logic?

Nobel laureate Hans Bethe was a friend of mathematician-physicist John von Neumann, and he once said: "I have sometimes wondered whether a brain like von Neumann's does not indicate a species ...
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Gauss on philosophers

Carl Friedrich Gauss said: When a philosopher says something that is true then it is trivial. When he says something that is not trivial then it is false. On one occasion I read that supposedly ...
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Jean-Christophe Yoccoz (May 29, 1957 – September 3, 2016)

Outstanding French mathematician had also his Brasilian chapter in his life (or two chapters?). I'd like to know more. The en.wikipedia tells us that Yoccoz was born, raised and educated in France, "...
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Alexander Grothendieck's "stolen" correspondence in 1985?

On the website that now displays the part of Grothendieck's archives that had been held at the University of Montpellier, it is mentioned that: Dans une lettre adressée à Monsieur Lefranc datée du 13 ...
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1 answer
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Did Heisenberg defend that Germany should rule Europe?

The following has been attributed to the German physicist Werner Heisenberg: History legitimizes Germany to rule Europe and later the world. Only a nation that rules ruthlessly can maintain itself. ...
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Was Richard Feynman really awarded a patent for a nuclear Airplane and Rocket?

I've been re-reading "Surely you're Joking Mr. Feynman", and at one point he talks about how at Los Alamos they were asked to write down any idea, no matter how obvious involving nuclear technology, ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Where to get more biographical information about Fritz Peter?

Fritz Peter (1899–1949) is known mainly as one of the authors of the Peter-Weyl theorem. This theorem appears in a paper (Die Vollständigkeit der primitiven Darstellungen einer geschlossenen ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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What is the Leroy Grumman Medal won by the theoretical physicist Kenneth G. Wilson?

I happened to find that one of the most important inventors of the renormalization group, Kenneth G. Wilson, won the Leroy Randle Grumman Award Medal in 1986, 4 years after his Nobel prize. Details in ...
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4 votes
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What happened to the undergrad students who attended the Feynman Lecture Series in 1961-63?

Note: This question was originally asked here, but I was wondering if I could get further clarification as this has truly intrigued me. In the academic years of 1962-2 and 1962-3, Richard Feynman ...
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Women in mathematics

I'd like to read something about the history of women in mathematics. I'd love to have reading suggestions of books in English or Italian, of 3 kinds: 1) History of math books, academic style; 2) ...
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4 votes
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Identification of scientists in de Gennes book

Petit Point: A Candid Portrait on the Aberrations of Science is a charming book written by the French physicist Pierre-Gilles de Gennes containing short essays on some of the prominent scientists that ...
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What was the relationship between Einstein and Minkowski?

I read many Einstein's Biographies, but Minkowski was never mentioned, though his discovery of the union of space and time created the basis for GR. Minkowski was Einstein's teacher of mathematics ...
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Did Paul Dirac believe in multiple universes?

Prominent physicist Paul Dirac proposed a hypothesis that said that constants and laws of physics would evolve with time into different constants and laws of nature. This hypothesis was used by ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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What was the "libration of Pallas" that Gauss studied, when Pallas is not a moon of Jupiter?

This question is a request for general explanation of an astronomical phenomenon known as "Pallas libration", and isn't much about the details of Gauss's mathematical model of this libration. As is ...
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Did anyone with formal medical education become a known theoretical physicist?

Was there someone who got a medical education, took an interest in physics and later became a known theoretical physicist? I am a medical student studying graduate mathematics and consider becoming a ...
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1 vote
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Two questions about Gauss's contributions to capillarity and the calculus of variations

In the last page of the abstract of Gauss's paper on capillarity "Principia generalia theoriae figurae fluidorum in statu aequilibrii" (1829), the author (who is he?) mentions (Gauss's werke, volume V,...
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Textbooks used by Oliver Heaviside

Oliver Heaviside achieved a very high level in mathematics and physics by self-study, starting from a modest school-level math, and working alone in his room, without a tutor. Is it known what ...
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Is there a biography of Robert Risch?

The Risch algorithm for computing symbolic integrals was developed by Robert Risch in the 1968-70 time frame. Based on the German Wikipedia article, I know that Risch was awarded a Ph.D. by U.C. ...
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2 votes
3 answers
615 views

Scientists who made a mark in the world despite their disabilities

Stephen Hawking is a famous scientist who despite being disabled made a big contribution to the scientific world. I want to know other such scientists who have a big influence on us.
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1 vote
1 answer
329 views

Looking for a specific story about young Stephen Hawking

There was a specific account of Stephen Hawking by one of his contemporaries in which Hawking was in his late undergrad or early postgrad. As I remember, there was a small class of physics students (...
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2 votes
4 answers
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Great scientists with chaotic private lives

In the arena of art, it is not uncommon to find great writers, composers or painters who suffer from chaotic personal lives (e.g., lifelong alcoholism, addiction to prostitutes, stormy marriages and ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Several questions about Gauss's contributions to observational astronomy

I just want to check if anyone has additional information about a private astronomical research begun by Gauss in 1819, which dealt with the "movements of the solar system" in the galaxy (motion of ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Was Lord Kelvin at any point a proponent of vitalism?

Vitalism is the notion now discredited as pseudoscientific that there is some fundamental cleavage between living and non-living matter. This blog post contains some quotes that suggest Lord Kelvin ...
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1 answer
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Ctesibius discovery of compressed air

I want to know where has he placed the tube and how he adjust the height ? Please refer the link below marked in violet http://lnr.li/m19fP Please explain using simple diagram for better ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
234 views

Discovery of Suction pump

As I know that before Galileo,all the scientists believe that vacuum cannot exists. But how suction pump(which itself remove air)was discovered before Galileo. What was the steps involved in it to ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Did John von Neumann ever go to any Nordic Country? Did Eugene Paul Wigner ever go to any other Nordic country apart from Sweden?

I am researching the presence of important scientists in Nordic countries — Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. I was hoping that someone could help me since I've not been able to find ...
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-3 votes
1 answer
106 views

Why didn't Torricelli use other liquids?

Why did Torricelli use a denser liquid like mercury? Why didn't he think of using lighter liquids like water?
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1 vote
0 answers
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Galileo discovery of vacuum

I want to know how he thought that when his siphon could not raise water more than 10m it may be because of vacuum? Please refer the link below https://wikivisually.com/wiki/Gasparo_Berti
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-4 votes
1 answer
288 views

History behind the word pressure

I want to know who had used the word pressure for the first time and what was the reason for him to use the word pressure. As I searched on google but it is only showing about barometer discovery
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1 vote
1 answer
181 views

How did Francis Hauksbee know that mercury would glow in his electrostatic generator?

I read that he made a modified version of Otto von Guericke's electrostatic generator but I want to know how he came to know that mercury can glow light in his generator at that time?
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3 votes
3 answers
271 views

Feynman story: providing two different explanations for the same phenomenon

There's a story told about Feynman in a non-scientific book (whether written by him or another, I don't recall) that I'm trying to track down. If I recall correctly: he's part of a group (perhaps ...
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0 answers
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Water conductivity discovery

I read how Benjamin Franklin does the kite experiment in rain but keeping himself and the bottom end dry.I want to know how he know that water can conduct electricity.Please refer the link below and ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Kite experiment

In Benjamin Franklin's kite given in the link below http://www.benjamin-franklin-history.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Franklins-kite.jpg I want to know how electric charge pass through strings as ...
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-1 votes
2 answers
264 views

Electric spark discovery

I am searching it on Google but I am not finding,who had discovered static electric spark for the first time,that later Benjamin Franklin proved that this spark(already discovered spark) is same as ...
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-1 votes
2 answers
222 views

Charles du fay experiment

How he get to know which one is positive and which one is negative as stated by him that there are two types of fluid? Also tell how he thought of two fluids?
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1 vote
1 answer
244 views

Robert Boyle discovery of electricity

I was searching for all the names who discovered electricity. As I was seeing the names, the first name came of William Gilbert and I searched how had he discovered I got to know. Then the second ...
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