Questions tagged [biographical-details]

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

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13
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2answers
1k views

Why did Einstein stop publishing so many papers in Annalen der Physik?

In his early years (actually, straight through the early 1910s), Albert Einstein published a lot of papers in Annalen der Phyisk, a very old and prominent German scientific journal. However, this ...
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1answer
351 views

Gauss accused of witchcraft: apocryphal?

I recall reading years ago in a linear algebra book that Gauss was accused of witchcraft for his (re)discovery of what we now call the row reduction algorithm for solving linear equations. Has anyone ...
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Robert Hooke and the Inverse Square Law

In borel, emile, 1922, l'espace et le temps, paris: alcan there is a claim that Robert Hooke discovered an inverse square relation of gravitating bodied prior Isaac Newton, who later applied it more ...
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1answer
448 views

Did Archimedes use epicycles in his planetarium?

Archimedes constructed a planetarium where as described by Cicero "he had thought out a way to represent accurately by a single device for turning the globe those various and divergent movements with ...
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2answers
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Did Alfred Nobel collect his wealth by selling dynamite?

At the start of my chemistry course, my professor told a story: He said that Alfred Nobel invented dynamite (which is true) and he accumulated his wealth by selling it to both parties A and B (...
8
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1answer
206 views

What was the reaction to Kepler's *Somnium* when it was published?

Kepler's Somnium ("The Dream") is a work of fiction that is sometimes regarded as the first example of science fiction (e.g. by Carl Sagan). In it, Kepler describes a journey to the Moon and various ...
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3answers
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Did Isaac Newton burn Robert Hooke's picture?

A well-known TV series hinted some time ago that Isaac Newton burnt the only known picture of Robert Hooke. Is it true?
8
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2answers
189 views

Leibniz's stand on axioms and definitions

Recently while discussing with a friend he claimed that Leibniz was fond of proceeding axiomatically and from definitions. I find this hard to believe. My conception is that Leibniz was more ...
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4answers
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Whose shoulders did Newton stand on?

In a letter to Robert Hooke in 1676, Newton wrote: If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. Do we know which giants Newton was referring to? And was he referring to a ...
19
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4answers
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Did Abraham De Moivre really predict his own death?

At the last point of his life, he noted that he slept 15 minutes extra every night then he calculated that he would die on the day that the extra 15 minutes a night accumulated to 24 hours. That day ...
5
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1answer
306 views

Did Bertrand Russell leave the Second International Congress of Mathematicians to read Giuseppe Peano's Formulario?

The Wikipedia page on Giuseppe Peano claims the following: At the conference Peano met Bertrand Russell and gave him a copy of Formulario. Russell was so struck by Peano's innovative logical ...
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1answer
546 views

In what instances did Wolfgang Pauli say that something was 'not even wrong'?

One famous quote I've heard of Wolfgang Pauli is It is not even wrong. I've also heard that Pauli had a blustery, often unpleasant personality, and I vaguely recall hearing the phrase used in ...
5
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1answer
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Is it true that Hideyo Noguchi had neurosyphilis when carrying out his last experiments in Africa?

On the Wikipedia page on Hideyo Noguchi, one can find the following: Possibly his erratic and irresponsible behaviour was caused by the untreated syphilis with which he was diagnosed in 1913, and ...
12
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1answer
398 views

Hawking on Newton and the famed apple

If I recall correctly, Stephen Hawking mentioned in A Brief History of Time that Newton remarked once that the famed apple actually distracted him from his lucubrations. Does anybody know where it ...
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0answers
124 views

Did Walter Pitts refuse to allow his name to be made publicly available?

I read on the Wikipedia page on Walter Pitts that : Pitts was also described as an eccentric, refusing to allow his name to be made publicly available. He refused all offers of advanced ...
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3answers
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What motivated Cantor to invent set theory?

I can't imagine mathematics without sets, but the question "what was mathematics like before there were sets" is not answerable, I think. Instead, a good answer to the title question should cover a ...
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5answers
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Why did Einstein help in the development of the Quantum theory if he didn't agree with it?

I read the book "A Brief History of Time" By Stephan Hawking. It states that Einstein helped scientists like Pauli etc. in the development of the quantum theory and even shared the Nobel Prize with ...
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6answers
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What is the difference between Calculus of Newton and that of Leibniz?

Are there any differences between the study of Calculus done by Newton as compared to that done by Leibniz? If yes, please mention point by point.
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What mathematical developments/discoveries caused imaginary numbers to gain acceptance at the time (18th century) they did?

In a Wiki article on imaginary numbers it was asserted that "the use of imaginary numbers was not widely accepted until the work of Leonhard Euler (1707–1783) and Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777–1855)." ...
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Hilbert's reaction to Gödel's incompleteness theorems

Is it known how Hilbert initially reacted to Gödel's incompleteness theorems upon their announcement at the Königsberg conference in 1930, or their publication in 1931?
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1answer
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Why did Rene Descartes go to Sweden?

The year before he died, mathematician Rene Descartes accepted an invitation to tutor the brilliant 19-year old Queen Christina of Sweden (some thirty years younger). He apparently died from the ...
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3answers
489 views

What was the connection between David Hilbert and Stefan Banach?

The so-called "Hilbert space" is named after mathematician David Hilbert. Later, this was generalized into "Banach spaces" by Stefan Banach. My understanding is that Hilbert was ...
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4answers
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Why was Évariste Galois killed?

It is well known that Évariste Galois died a young man. I have heard that he died in a duel. What was the duel about? More rather what is the back story behind his death and did he really write down ...
15
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1answer
411 views

Cauchy's undead theory

A well known urban legend states that Cauchy's last words to the Academy where: C'est ce que j'expliquerai plus au long dans un prochain mémoire. ("I will explain it in greater detail in my next ...

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