Skip to main content
53 votes
Accepted

Is it true that Albert Einstein was kicked out of high school due to his "peacefulness"?

The most important resource with regard to Albert Einstein's biography are Princeton University's Collected Papers. Particularly relevant to the question is John Stachel (ed.), The Collected Papers of ...
njuffa's user avatar
  • 6,516
42 votes
Accepted

What hair color did Évariste Galois have?

Galois was imprisoned twice, at Sainte-Pélagie prison in 1831 and at La Force prison in 1832. The prison records are apparently retained in French archives. His prison record from Sainte-Pélagie is ...
njuffa's user avatar
  • 6,516
27 votes

What was the relationship between Einstein and Minkowski?

A good account is Weinstein, Max Born, Albert Einstein and Hermann Minkowski's Space-Time Formalism of Special Relativity. They did no have much of a relationship, what it was is well-summarized by ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77k
27 votes
Accepted

Which mathematician traveled to and moved in with each collaborator?

The man is Paul Erdős. As pointed out by the OP in the comments, his "nomadic" lifestyle is briefly mentioned in the Brown Numbers - Numberphile video, 3.05-3.30. It is also concisely ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77k
27 votes
Accepted

Does Arnold say that Hardy is responsible for Ramanujan's untimely death?

I think it is fairly obvious from the quote that Arnold is blaming Hardy's neglect for Ramanujan's death. The real question is whether his charge is supported by evidence. Arnold's evidence comes ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77k
26 votes
Accepted

Was Kolmogorov enraged after learning about the Karatsuba multiplication algorithm?

Karatsuba's own report can be found in his 1995 paper Сложность вычислений (Complexity of computations). The phrasing he uses is "сильно взволновалo", which Google does translate as "...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77k
24 votes

What scientists and mathematicians were afraid to publish their findings?

Mikhael Gromov started his career in the Soviet Union. When he decided to try to leave (which was not an easy thing to do at the time, as it is now), he stopped publishing his work, fearful that if ...
Mikhail Katz's user avatar
  • 5,822
22 votes
Accepted

What is the origin of the negation ( ¬ ) operator from logic?

If vague resemblance is enough, then "$¬$" resembles "$-$", which denotes negation in arithmetic. Lambert in Sechs Versuche einer Zeichenkunst in der Vernunftlehre (1782) and Boole ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77k
21 votes
Accepted

Who was Richard Thompson?

I was only able to find fragmentary information on Thompson. A good starting point is his PhD thesis, which gives us his full name: Richard Joseph Thompson, Transformational Structure of Algebraic ...
njuffa's user avatar
  • 6,516
20 votes

Claims of mathematical breakthroughs while in an altered state of consciousness?

Scientists and mathematicians rarely self-report on psychological circumstances of their creative process, at best presenting a rationalization of their path to discovery. Kekule's dream and Kepler's ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77k
20 votes
Accepted

What were 12 year old Pitts' objections to Principia Mathematica?

This story bears characteristic signs of a tall tale, although in this case one can identify the origin. It appears to be an amalgamation of two anecdotes, neither of which is itself very credible. ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77k
19 votes

Is this Einstein rejection letter fake?

According to this, it's a modern fabrication: Although Einstein’s initial application for a doctorate at the University of Bern (he had previously been awarded a PhD by the University of Zürich in ...
Geremia's user avatar
  • 5,339
19 votes
Accepted

Inscriptions on Newton's tomb

Another picture of the scroll, but taken from a different angle, appeared in: Greg Priest, Silvia De Toffoli, Paula Findlen, "Tools of Reason: The Practice of Scientific Diagramming from ...
njuffa's user avatar
  • 6,516
18 votes
Accepted

What did Fermat do as a lawyer?

Fermat wasn't so much a "lawyer" as a magistrat which means that he sat on successively higher levels of the Parlement of Toulouse, France. This period (17th century) was before the emergence of the ...
Mikhail Katz's user avatar
  • 5,822
18 votes
Accepted

Did Richard Feynman ever meet Stephen Hawking or comment on Hawking radiation?

I take that your primary goal is to know what Feynman thought of Hawking's work. While it is possible that they have met I would consider it unlikely given that Feynman mentioned several times how his ...
cesaruliana's user avatar
18 votes
Accepted

Who was D.A. Millin, the eponym of the Millin Series?

I am the author of the Advanced Problem H-237 to the FQ issue Vol. 14 no. 2 (1976). The series in that Problem was later named the Millin series. At that time, I was a senior at the Annville-Cleona ...
Dale Miller's user avatar
18 votes

Works of scientists, philosophers and mathematicians that (re)surfaced after a long time

A major work of Archimedes, which is usually called "The Method of mechanical theorems" was thought to be lost since the late antiquity till 1906 when it was found as a palimpsest in a ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
17 votes
Accepted

What kind of mathematical education did Leibniz have?

Mauro Allegranza's comment pretty much says it all but to elaborate a bit one could mention that Leibniz came to mathematics rather late in his intellectual career and was essentially a self-educated ...
Mikhail Katz's user avatar
  • 5,822
17 votes
Accepted

Did Grothendieck really say that he felt "clumsy, even oafish, wandering painfully up an arduous track"?

Yes, the quote is essentially authentic. This is from a typeset version "Récoltes et Semailles", specfically from "2.2 L’importance d’être seul." (To find the document online should be possible ...
quid's user avatar
  • 1,481
17 votes

Literary works authored by mathematicians

Bertrand Russell wrote many books and essays on philosophy and social justice, and was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature. And the Persian mathematician Omar Khayyám wrote poetry: quatrains that ...
AndyB's user avatar
  • 271
17 votes
Accepted

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

The closest to an attribution that I could find is by Matt Calhoun on Math SE, who claims "it was personally told to me" by "my mechanics professor (G. Horton) [who] took lectures from Pauli..." G. ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77k
16 votes
Accepted

How did Grothendieck encounter and adopt the categorical language?

Grothendieck's familiarity with the categories predates Kansas. In 1948-1949 he attended Séminaire Cartan at École Normale Supérieure, where he "took the liberty of speaking to Cartan, as if to ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77k
16 votes

Literary works authored by mathematicians

Hausdorff wrote many literary and philosophical works, including poems and a play, under the pseudonym Paul Mongré.
Yuval Filmus's user avatar
15 votes

Claims of mathematical breakthroughs while in an altered state of consciousness?

Paul Erdős was a mathematician noted for his prolific contributions to the science of mathematics as well as a proclivity for the use of amphetamines. His friend Ronald Graham famously bet him $500 (...
sig_seg_v's user avatar
  • 251
15 votes

Why did Einstein oppose quantum uncertainity?

I am not sure what "explain it like a story" means, but the Bohr–Einstein debates is perhaps the most dramatic story of Einstein making his dissatisfaction known. Pais's scientific biography ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77k
15 votes
Accepted

Who was N.M. Stephens who refuted the Stronger Feit-Thompson Conjecture?

I’m Nelson Stephens’ daughter. He was born on 6th May 1941 and was a Professor of Mathematics at the University of London. He passed away on 8th January 2024. Not sure I can be much help on the maths ...
Sophie's user avatar
  • 166
15 votes

What scientists and mathematicians were afraid to publish their findings?

The moment I saw this Question , I connected it with $\sqrt{2}$ , which I think is the Earliest Example of hiding ( Mathematical ) Discoveries out of fear. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
Prem's user avatar
  • 396
14 votes

What is the original source for Abel's quote about Gauss:"He is like the fox, who effaces his tracks in the sand with his tail"?

Bjerknes cites a letter from Abel to Christopher Hansteen, a fellow professor of Bjerknes at Christiania/Oslo, who had put up and mentored Abel in the beginning of his career. Den omgangskreds af ...
Michael E2's user avatar
  • 1,871
14 votes
Accepted

Alexander Grothendieck's "stolen" correspondence in 1985?

The Grothendieck Circle site suggests a more innocent explanation for the loss these letters. Having left Montpellier in 1984.... In May of that year [1985] a secretary informed him that his ...
nwr's user avatar
  • 6,869
14 votes

Who was D.A. Millin, the eponym of the Millin Series?

The furthest back I came is this 1974 article from The Fibonacci Quarterly 12, No. 3. Extract:
Michael's user avatar
  • 431

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible