Questions tagged [biographical-details]

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

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81 views

Summary of Gauss's work on geodesic lines on ellipsoid

The solution to the problem of geodesic lines on a biaxial ellipsoid (when two of the axes are equal) is not very hard and can be solved by mathematical tools that existed prior to Gauss - i.e via ...
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658 views

How did Wittgenstein fulfill eligibility requirements for a PhD in philosophy without having a Bachelor's degree in philosophy?

The Wikipedia article about Wittgenstein says: In Norway it was clear that Moore was expected to act as Wittgenstein's secretary, taking down his notes, with Wittgenstein falling into a rage when ...
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737 views

In a popular anecdote, who took 20 minutes to decide that a thing was obvious?

The joke is found on this comment chain on Reddit. One user told the joke: The version I heard is that Pauli was lecturing, and he said "this is obvious". A student raises his hand and says "sorry ...
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Is this Einstein rejection letter fake?

So I found this on the internet the other day- Is this fake? Are there any ways to prove that it's fake? Does there, if any, exist any real copy of such a rejection letter?(Was Einstein ever ...
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1answer
320 views

Pauli's first paper about the spin

Wikipedia states, that the spin degree of freedom was first formulated by Pauli in 1924: In 1924 Wolfgang Pauli introduced what he called a "two-valued quantum degree of freedom" associated with ...
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1answer
243 views

Who influenced Gauss in his abstract approach to mathematics?

I have studied that Gauss was one of the firsts mathematicians to defend this idea, about the Abstract Math and the conception of number, claiming that "What is calculated (in the sense of things ...
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3answers
267 views

Did Maxwell discover the distribution of velocities in a gas during an exam set by Stokes?

In some lecture notes I found online it was claimed that Maxwell discovered the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution while in the course of solving a (then unsolved) examination problem given by Stokes. The ...
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372 views

What did Fermat do as a lawyer?

Fermat is easily one of the best known mathematicians of all time. We all know about Fermat's Last Theorem, Fermat's Little Theorem, his quadrature rule, his invention of probability theory, etc. ...
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Laplace's characterization of Gauss as “a super-terrestrial spirit in a human body”

The following words concerning Carl Friedrich Gauss are attributed to Laplace in an article from the Mathematics magazine by Teets and Whitehead (The discovery of Ceres: how Gauss became famous, first ...
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184 views

Did Gauss anticipate Kirchhoff's diffraction formulation in 1836?

Clemens Schaefer says, in his treatise "Über Gauss' physikalische Arbeiten", that for a very short time in the years 1835/1836 Gauss showed interest in the new diffraction experiments of Fresnel and ...
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120 views

Why is there some doubt whether or not Gauss saw the pseudosphere as the embodiment of hyperbolic geometry?

I read a lot of historical articles that doubt the possibility that Gauss saw in the pseudosphere the realization of hyperbolic geometry; that geodetic triangles on the pseudosphere obey the same ...
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Nature of Fermat's friend Lalouvère's activities as censor?

Fermat had a friend at Toulouse named Lalouvère. Lalouvère was censor, jesuit, and mathematician (in alphabetical order). Antonella Romano writes on page 512 of her book La Contre-Réforme ...
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432 views

How did Gauss overcome the problem of curvature of sunlight rays when he developed his heliotrope?

My question refers to Gauss's heliotrope - an optical device for projecting sunlight to a distance by a reflecting mirror, that was used in geodetic surveys in order to mark reference points. The ...
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88 views

Biographies comparing the personal and professional lives of various influential scientists/mathematicians?

There are many biographies that go into detail into the lives of a single, or maybe a couple of scientists. I am wondering, is there a good book that does not focus on an individual, but explicitly ...
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How to derive from Gauss's result on the volume of orthoscheme tetrahedron the formulas of Lobachevsky and Bolay?

My question is a direct continuation of my already posted question Did Gauss's expression for the differential of the hyperbolic volume of the tetrahedron agree with later results?. I simply didn'...
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520 views

Did Gauss's expression for the differential of the hyperbolic volume of the tetrahedron agree with later results?

My question is mainly about getting explanation to Gauss's third note (note III) in his writing "Zur Astralgeometrie", (see Cubierung der Tetraeder, pages 228-229), and about placing it in the right ...
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1answer
124 views

Who knows Frank Irvin?

In a German book by Helmut Kracke I found Frank Irvin mentioned. Irvin proved in 1916 the convergence of the harmonic series when all terms containing a 9 were omitted. I would like to include Irvin ...
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69 views

Why was F. W. Lanchester's first aeronautical paper rejected by the Physical Society?

Lanchester was arguably the first to somewhat accurately describe the physical mechanism for the generation of lift. In 1894, the Birmingham Natural History and Philosophical Society read his paper, ...
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Famous messy scientists

Which scientists were known to be messy? I know of Albert Einstein: And of Jean Piaget: Are there other examples?
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146 views

When did William (Bill) Burke, who discovered the first actual bug, live and die?

Grace Hopper is frequently credited with finding the first actual bug. In fact, she just popularized the story of how William (Bill) Burke found the bug in the Mark II computer and documented it. I'...
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130 views

F. Schoblik's announced ''ausführliche Darstellung": a lost wrong proof of the Four Color Theorem?

In (the AMS Chelsea Publishing version of) what is perhaps the first genuine textbook on graph theory ever, Dénes Kőnig on p. 28 gives the illustration and the footnote which when translated says ...
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329 views

What topological ideas did Gauss introduce to his student Möbius?

Recently I found a website with good historical information about the contributions of Gauss to Analysis situs (the old term for topology). The site is in German so I made a Google translate to ...
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140 views

Did Kepler influence Fermat?

On page 347 in his "Mathematical Thought, volume 1", Morris Kline writes: "The work on the third class of problems, finding the maxima and minima of functions, may be said to begin with an ...
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97 views

Name of a XIXth-century German scientist from the University of Berlin

In December 1892, the french mathematician Charles Hermite had a jubilee celebration. He received a number of letters and telegrams. One of them is from the members of the University of Berlin, see ...
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388 views

When did Grace Murray Hopper say “The wonderful thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from?”

When did Grace Murray Hopper say "The wonderful thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from?" This quote is attributed to her in many places (including in one of my books), ...
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241 views

Was Gauss aware of the non-euclidean implications of his work on moduler forms?

Until recently, i thought that the first to observe the connection between modular forms and the hyperbolic plane (a model of non-euclidean geometry) was Felix Klein. But in the last week i read the ...
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260 views

Great physicists with no mentors

I often check biographies of physicists and at one point or another in the beginning of their careers they have the opportunity to be mentored by other and often also great scientists. But, I know for ...
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127 views

Citation of Brouwer needed

In a letter to Zeilberger the late Alexander Zenkin states that Brouwer called set theory "a pathological incident in history of mathematics from which future generations will be horrified". (See ...
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139 views

What was the mechanical principle of Leibniz's “integraph”?

For a very long time I've searched in the internet what was the actual integrating device which Leibniz designed in 1693. Yesterday I found the answer - the instrument which Leibniz devised is the ...
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1answer
106 views

Did Leibniz also design analog computers?

My question is based on the information that appears in several websites, according to which I found three examples of a kind of instrument that was probably an analog computer. The first one ...
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474 views

Did Gauss know Jacobi's four squares theorem?

In pp. 283–285 of volume 2 of Dickson's “history of the theory of numbers” appear several formulas of striking similarity: some of them are stated by Gauss (p. 283) and some are stated by Jacobi (p. ...
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414 views

History of the origins and development of problems of finding maximum and minimum values of quantities

I am aware that perhaps the earliest source concerning problems of maximum and minimum values occurs in Euclid's Elements. After Euclid, Archimedes of Syracuse and Apollonius of Perga seem to consider ...
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118 views

Summary of Gauss's contributions to differential geometry, conformal mappings, and geodesy

G. Waldo Dunnington in his biography of Gauss states (on p. 165):"only a portion of his results in the field of curved surfaces was presented in the Disquisitiones generalis, and a second memoir on ...
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81 views

What was C.F Gauss's work on the problem of the volume of tetrahedron in hyperbolic geometry?

My question is a continuation of this posted question: Why did Gauss recommend Janos Bolyai to find the volume of a tetrahedron in hyperbolic geometry?. The issue is that since i asked the previous ...
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134 views

Was Newton aware of a nascent inverse function theorem?

More specifically, was Newton aware that given an inverse pair of functions $f$ and $h$ such that $$f(h(x)) = x = h(f(x))$$ about the origin that, for $$(x,y)=(h(y),f(x)),$$ the derivatives satisfy ...
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220 views

What results did C. F. Gauss add to Euler’s dioptrics?

I’m a fan of C. F. Gauss but I have to be objective — I don’t understand why the classical theory of lenses is called “Gaussian optics”. I think so since it seems that almost all the results of Gauss’...
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456 views

Best books/papers on Newton and his mathematical physics

In your opinion, what are some of the best books/papers on Newton and his work that accurately cover the connections between his geometric proofs in the Principia and his development of the calculus ...
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934 views

Did Poincaré say that set theory is a disease?

This question has been discussed on several sites including MathOverflow but with not definite result. Presumely HSE is best suited. Jeremy Gray denies that Poincare said, "Later generations will ...
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1answer
157 views

Why did Gauss recommend Janos Bolyai to find the volume of a tetrahedron in hyperbolic geometry?

My question is based on Dunnington's biography of Gauss: Gauss: titan of science. In it Dunnington mentions that Gauss, in his response to Janos Bolyai's paper, sent him a synthetic proof of the ...
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Why did Einstein oppose quantum uncertainity?

Einstein always believed that everything is certain, and we can calculate everything. That's why he rejected quantum mechanics, due to its factor of uncertainty. But still quantum physics was right. ...
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1answer
236 views

Fraenkel's appointment at Göttingen

Abraham Fraenkel grandpère writes on page 127 of his book recently translated into English: My professional career began in March 1919 with... an invitation to Göttingen to Privy Counselor Felix ...
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1answer
155 views

Did Gauss see the analogy between number-theoretic concepts and knots?

According to the book "Models and Inferences in Science", p.156 - "the idea of a number-theoretic approach to knots goes to Gauss (1798), who used the analogy between primes and knots, and it was put ...
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117 views

who was the first to discover the Hamilton principle of classical physics?

Who, besides Hamilton, was instrumental in discovering at least part of the so-called Hamilton principle? $$\delta \int_{a}^{b}L(q,\dot q ,t )dt$$ where $ L=T-V$, the Lagrangian. What exactly, was ...
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363 views

Did Turing invent the imitation game? Did he name it?

In his 1950 paper in Mind titled "Computer Machinery and Intelligence" which introduces the test that now bears his name, Alan Turing starts by describing a game which he calls the "Imitation Game", ...
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1answer
93 views

Francis Crick and the usefulness of “genes” as compared to molecular biochemistry

In lecture 12 of Professor John R. Searle's U.C. Berkeley class, "Philosophy of Mind", he remarks [18m22s]: We no longer talk mysteriously about how heredity works. We can actually identify ...
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106 views

What is the history of why electrical circuit diagrams list positive as the direction of electron flow?

In the study of electrical engineering circuit diagrams it is usually the norm to show the + ( positive ) polarity as the direction of motion. However in reality the electron is the elementary ...
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576 views

Are there any famous mathematicians who did regular physical workouts?

Because regular physical exercise is in theory linked to better brain function and is also recommended in another question here on stack exchange, I wonder if there are any famous mathematicians who ...
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1answer
252 views

What was Liouville's contribution to Liouville's theorem?

Liouville's theorem asserts that the volume of phase space is incompressible. This was first shown by Gibbs 1903 but his name is mostly forgotten. The Wikipedia article says It is referred to as ...
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3k views

Literary works authored by mathematicians

At a first glance, Mathematics and Literature look like two completely unrelated subjects. I wonder whether there are examples of acclaimed mathematicians which wrote novels, poems, or other ...
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93 views

Which event involving Marie Curie is being referenced here?

In the second episode of "Super Science Friends" Tesla is telling of his fight with Edison that, in the comic, leads him to carry all his patents in the interior pockets of his jacket. Freud then ...

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