Person: Blackburn, Hugh
Hugh Blackburn was a Scottish mathematician who became professor of mathematics at the University of Glasgow.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- James Clerk Maxwell was about eight years younger than Hugh, but Jemima Wedderburn was almost exactly the same age.
- Hugh was a serious boy, interested in mathematics and science, who loved conducting scientific experiments.
- From 1831 until 1836 Blackburn attended the Edinburgh Academy then continued his education at Eton.
- In Blackburn's rooms they swung on 'Blackburn's pendulum', an ingenious device with a double suspension, which could oscillate in planes at right angles to each other.
- In the Mathematical Tripos examinations of 1845 Thomson was second Wrangler and Blackburn was fifth wrangler (fifth place in the list of those obtaining a first class degree).
- In the year following his graduation Blackburn was elected to a fellowship at Trinity College, but at this stage his intention was to follow a career in the law and he was admitted at the Inner Temple on 2 November 1847.
- Thomson, however, strongly encouraged Blackburn to enter the academic profession.
- Blackburn was appointed to the chair, with a strong recommendation from Cayley, and took up his duties on 23 April 1849.
- In 1855 the Blackburns built Roshven House on the south shore of Loch Ailort which is a sea loch on the west coast of Scotland.
- Sailing from Skye on one occasion, Thomson took his yacht Lalla Rookh to Loch Ailort in the company of Hermann von Helmholtz, who was impressed by the friendly and relaxed atmosphere of the Blackburns' home.
- The Blackburns were prodigious travellers: Algeria, Spain, Italy, Corfu, Greece, and Iceland (in the company of Anthony Trollope) were all visited, where their largely unplanned expeditions progressed at a leisurely pace.
- The Blackburn' homes in Glasgow and on Loch Ailort were regularly visited by some of the leading figures of the day including John Ruskin, Sir John Everet Millais, Anthony Trollope, the Duke of Argyll, Benjamin Disraeli, Lord Lister, Hermann von Helmholtz, William Thomson and James Clerk Maxwell.
- At this point one might expect that we would detail some of Blackburn's contributions to mathematics.
- As the air grew thick with flying paper darts, Blackburn retreated to his chair hoping for calm but powerless to effect it.
Born 2 July 1823, Craigflower, Fife, Scotland. Died 9 October 1909, Roshven, Loch Ailort, Scotland.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Origin Scotland
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive