Questions tagged [biographical-details]

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

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Were notable physicists great at math or computing? [closed]

Were famous or popular physicists like Galileo, Newton, Einstein, Feynman predominantly mathematicians or scientists (computing, experimenting, engineering, etc.)? I am curious if people like the ...
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Who are the top mathematicians who were ignored due to their unconventional approach?

A perfect example would be Srinivasa Ramanujan. It is known that the conventional community throughout history have been close-minded towards great men of science and mathematics (e.g., Galileo). ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of a cryptic sentence by Gauss on "the mobility of figures in the hyperbolic plane"

G. Waldo Dunnington writes in pages 189-190 of his biography of Gauss: Among the axioms of geometry which do not depend on the parallel postulate are those which secure the free mobility of a ...
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Did Cambridge change their BSc policy for Ramanujan?

I found this quote at Quora: In March 1916 Ramanujan graduated from Cambridge with a Bachelor of Science by Research (This degree was later renamed as Ph.D. from 1920) for his work on Highly ...
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14 votes
1 answer
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Is the anecdote about Niels Bohr keeping a horseshoe on his door true?

I recently came to know of an anecdote about Niels Bohr that the philosopher Slavoj Zizek claims to have read in a biography of Bohr. He doesn't specify the author or the biography. The anecdote ...
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Who associated the sharp, principal, diffuse, fundamental spectral terms with electron's momentum?

It is well documented that the notation for the electronic configuration (s,p,d,f) of atoms as used today originates from the words sharp, principal, diffuse, fundamental from alkali metal spectra (...
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4 votes
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What are some references that Lev Landau was atheist?

In Wikipedia and many other sources copying it, it is claimed that Lev Landau was an atheist (I have no problem to believe the claim), however the (two) sources are not satisfying at all, to me. I ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Biographical informations on Igor Ado

Ado's Theorem is a very reelvant result in Lie theory (every finite-dimensional Lie algebra is isomorphic to a matrix Lie algebra). I've been, however, unable to find anything more than very basics ...
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14 votes
1 answer
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Notation for Christoffel symbols

In Christoffel's 1869 paper in which he introduced the Christoffel symbols on the 3rd and 4th pages, they are written as $\left[\substack{ij \\ k}\right]$ and $\{\substack{ij \\ k}\}$. The notation $...
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Did Ludwig Boltzmann read Albert Einstein's publication published on Brownian motion one year before Boltzmann passed away?

Apparently there was some negative reception of Boltzmann's idea of an "atom". I assume the mathematics used by Einstein in his publication did not use any of Boltzmann's statistical mathematics ...
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Explanation of Gauss's late fragments dealing with "the conformal image of the ellipse"

My question refers to some not very well known fragments of Gauss that treat the problem of finding a conformal mapping (angle-preserving mapping) in the complex plane from the interior of the ellipse ...
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Meaning of passages by Gauss on the "convergence of expansions (in infinite series) of the (elliptical) equation of the center"?

Yesterday I took my time to look again into Schlesinger's essay on Gauss's contributions to analysis, and I found something new I didn't know about (so it caught my eye) in the last subsection of the ...
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Has anything survived of the work of alleged science journalist and medical doctor 'Adolph Klein', allegedly born 1829 in Merseburg?

The Jewish Encyclopedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Encyclopedia) contains a sizeable entry on one 'Adolph Klein', allegedly born on 1829-05-29 in ther German city of Halle (Saale). ...
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Is there any historical mention of Richard Feynman being aware of multiverse theories of cosmology?

The reason I ask is because he talks about the fine structure constant in one of his undergraduate lectures. The reference to its mystery is analogous to all the special constants of nature such as ...
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Several questions about Gauss's mathematical conception of braids

I'm trying to figure out several things about Gauss's thoughts concerning a certain four-strand braid. The reference my questions are based on is mainly Moritz Epple's excellent article "orbits ...
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Is there anything written by Newton's roommate Wilkins about him?

I've read that John Wilkins was Newton's room-mate and they lived together for 20 years. Is there anything about Newton written by Wilkins? By the way, there is nothing easily found on google.
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3 votes
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A portrait of Bombelli

Is there any known portrait of Rafael Bombelli? I don't think so, but if you visit his MacTutor biography, you will see there this picture: It is clear to me that this cannot possibly be a picture of ...
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4 votes
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How old might Emmy Noether be in this picture?

I have not found bibliographic data to show what age Noether was in this picture: And I cannot estimate well either by her clothes or her face. Can anyone here help me? In the past I have known ...
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4 votes
2 answers
415 views

What mathematical techniques Gauss used in order to tessellate the unit disk?

This question is a continuation of my previously posted question: Was Gauss aware of the non-euclidean implications of his work on moduler forms?, and is based on the information given in John ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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What is the modern interpretation of Gauss's "Summatorische Function"?

In Buhler's biography of Gauss (Gauss: A Biographical Study), at the chapter on modular forms and hypergeometric series, he mentions a function that Gauss called "Summatorische Function", which he ...
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7 votes
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What are the modern connections of the Pentagramma Mirificum studied by Gauss?

In the last years, i read a lot about a mathematical object that was discovered by John Napier in 1620 and explored much more deeply by Gauss, who called this "Pentagramma Mirificum" (latin for "the ...
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8 votes
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Gauss's anticipation of quaternions and their relation to congruences

Recently i read the article "Hamilton, Rodrigues, Gauss, Quaternions and Rotations: A Historical Reassessment", which can be found freely on the internet. This article is by far the most comprehensive ...
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4 votes
2 answers
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Question about Gauss's contributions to the theory of electric circuits

This question is a continuation of my previously-posted question: Several questions about Gauss's contributions to electromagnetism. I wrote it after user vonbrand asked me to split my original ...
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1 vote
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Query 31 in Newton's opticks and the second law of thermodynamics

Query 31 in Newton's opticks contains the following words: "But by reason of the Tenacity of Fluids, and Attrition of their Parts, and the Weakness of Elasticity in Solids, Motion is much more apt to ...
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4 votes
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Do these trigonometric identities belong to Antonio Cagnoli?

I'm new to this stack community, please bear with me as I try to explain my question properly. Recently I came across with these trigonometric identities (where $ \omega + \phi + \psi = 180^\circ $): ...
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3 votes
1 answer
306 views

Several questions about Gauss's contributions to electromagnetism

First of all, i appologize if i'm asking too many questions about Gauss (and some will also say "not very interesting questions"); i know i might appear ridiculus - but i really think it's an ...
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5 votes
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What was Gauss's theoretical work related to his invention of the "Double-Gauss lens"?

Gauss's contributions (Dioptriche Untersuchungen, 1840) to the "classical" optical theory (Gaussian optics, i.e calculations made under the paraxial approximation) are well known, but long before he ...
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13 votes
3 answers
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Did Richard Feynman ever meet Stephen Hawking or comment on Hawking radiation?

I was just curious what Richard Feynman thought of Stephen Hawking's Hawking Radiation. Feynman was one of the developers of quantum field theory and Hawking's work would have been cutting edge on the ...
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3 votes
1 answer
330 views

Where did Fermi get the U235 for the first nuclear pile?

I am puzzled as to where or who produced the U235 for the first nuclear pile. I read that graphite was used as a neutron moderator but only .7 % of natural uranium is U235. He must have gotten it ...
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13 votes
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What were 12 year old Pitts' objections to Principia Mathematica?

In Wikipedia on the page dedicated to Walter Pitts (accesses today), it is written that, He is widely remembered to have spent three days in a library, at the age of 12, reading Principia ...
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7 votes
1 answer
280 views

Was Paul Cohen a student or assistant of Gödel?

In The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, a biography about Paul Erdős, by Paul Hoffman, the author claims that Paul Cohen was "Gödel's former assistant" (p 225). However, I can't find any other sources ...
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1 vote
1 answer
232 views

What were Gauss's results on the attraction of homogenous ellipsoids in his paper from 1813?

I'm very curius to learn of the solution to the problem of the gravitational attraction of triaxial ellipsoid, both in his internal and external parts. From what i read, i understood that the solution ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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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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8 votes
1 answer
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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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25 votes
5 answers
5k 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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18 votes
3 answers
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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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4 votes
1 answer
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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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5 votes
1 answer
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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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4 votes
3 answers
331 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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9 votes
2 answers
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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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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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1 vote
1 answer
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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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5 votes
0 answers
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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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3 votes
3 answers
468 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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1 vote
2 answers
91 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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3 votes
2 answers
553 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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3 votes
1 answer
132 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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2 votes
0 answers
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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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