Person: Robins, Benjamin
Benjamin Robins was an English engineer who wrote on Newton's mathematics and invented the ballistic pendulum.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- An answer was returned by Mr Robins that gave a very advantageous idea of his taste, as well as invention.
- Pemberton soon had Robins reading, in English translations, the classic Greek texts on geometry by Apollonius, Archimedes and by Pappus.
- Robins loved this geometrical approach to mathematics and retained a preference for geometry over algebra or analysis throughout his life.
- Gradually Robins gave up teaching to become an engineer.
- He replied in the November part of The Present State of the Republick of Letters arguing that Robins had not faithfully represented the concept of limit as used by Newton.
- Robins also published Remarks on M Euler's Treatise of Motion in 1739.
- Robins' attacks on Walpole meant that after Walpole was removed from office in 1741, Robins was in favour with the Tory Party and he was appointed as secretary to a secret committee set up to investigate Walpole's conduct.
- The Royal Military Academy was founded at Woolwich, in south-east London, in 1741 with the purpose of educating "good officers of artillery and perfect engineers." Robins was a candidate for the position of professor of fortification at the Academy but failed to be appointed; the post was given to a Mr Muller.
- It has been said that Mr Robins published his discoveries and improvements in gunnery, to show, it was thought, what sort of man had been overlooked on that occasion.
- The work Robins published in 1742 was New Principles of Gunnery which formed the basis for all subsequent work on the theory of artillery and projectiles.
- The work grew out of a course Robins intended to give, but changed his mind on not being appointed to the new Royal Military Academy.
- This, and other work by Robins, would influence not only the British military but also that of other European countries.
- Robins invented the ballistic pendulum which allowed precise measurements of the velocity of projectiles fired from guns.
- As described by Robins, a large wooden block is suspended in front of a gun.
- In 1747 Robins received the Copley medal of the Royal Society to recognise his achievement in developing the new science of ballistics.
Born 16 April 1706, Bath, England. Died 20 July 1751, Madras, (now Chennai) India.
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Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive