Person: Garavito, Julio
Julio Garavito was a Colombian mathematician and astronomer who also contributed to political economy.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Colombia had achieved independence from Spain in 1810 becoming the Republic of Gran Colombia, then became the Republic of New Granada before changing its name to the United States of Colombia in 1863, two years before Julio Garavito was born.
- In 1875, at the age of ten, Julio Garavito began his schooling at the Colegio de San Bartolomé in Bogotá.
- This college had been run by the Jesuits but, by the time that Julio began his studies there, it had been nationalised and was being run by the state.
- At the Colegio de San Bartolomé, Julio Garavito was taught mathematics by Luis María Lleras (1842-1885).
- Garavito graduated from the Colegio de San Bartolomé in 1884 but again in this year the United States of Colombia saw a civil war which grew more serious in 1885, with a rebellion by radical groups from the Liberal Party against the government, leading to the Battle of La Humareda.
- Luis María Lleras, Garavito's former mathematics teacher, was killed in this battle.
- When the National University of Colombia, which had been founded in 1867, reopened in 1887, Garavito began his studies of mathematics and civil engineering by enrolling in Practical Geometry, Trigonometry and Analytical Geometry.
- In his final thesis, this one in engineering, Julio Garavito proposed a triangular structure to build bridges just like the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
- Garavito's mathematical thesis was entitled El Juego de la Aguja Ⓣ(The game of needles) which looked at probabilistic approaches to calculating π in the spirit of the Comte de Buffon's needle experiment.
- Due to his outstanding performance, Garavito was appointed as head of the National Observatory of Colombia in 1892.
- Justino Garavito graduated from the National University of Colombia, became a Professor of Mathematics and Engineering and an official at the Office of Longitudes.
- In 1897 Garavito published Latitud del observatorio de Bogotá Ⓣ(Latitude of the Bogota Observatory) which contained the series of observations he had made to determine the latitude of the Bogotá Observatory.
- Garavito organised informal teaching sessions, seminars and other activities for this broad range of scientists.
- Garavito became the informal director of the Faculty of Mathematics and Engineering, set up in the Observatory.
- As an Observatory publication, El Cometa de 1901 Ⓣ(The comet of 1901) by Garavito was also published.
- Garavito submitted the paper La teoría racional de las curvas planas y de reverso, sus conexiones posibles con la teoría de las covariantes e invariantes Ⓣ(The rational theory of plane and inverse curves, its possible connections with the theory of covariants and invariants) to the third Latin American Scientific Congress that met in Rio de Janeiro in 1905.
- The Brazilian mathematician Otto de Alencar e Silva (1874-1912) criticised Garavito's paper in various sessions of the Congress and Garavito answered these criticisms in a paper in the Anales de Ingeniería.
- Garavito realised, before anyone else in Colombia, that paper money was nothing more than a forced contribution imposed on the country because it was not prepared for a more rational tax regime.
- Garavito was interviewed by the press, wrote popular and academic articles such as El cometa Halley 1910 Ⓣ(Halley's comet of 1910) and tried to demonstrate the unfoundedness of people's apprehensions.
- Garavito, however, was reluctant to view space as non-euclidean, publishing Bancarrota de la ciencia?
- Although Garavito, a man of science, would undoubtedly have rejected the superstition, the belief does have a connection to reality: Garavito is on the 20,000 peso bill.
- Recently, the cemetery administration renovated Garavito's tomb, raising it and erasing the messages believers had written to Garavito, asking him for miracles or thanking him for favours received.
- In his lifetime Garavito received many national and international honours, including honorary membership of the Colombian Society of Engineers, of the Geographical Society of Lima, of the Astronomical Society of France and of the Belgian Astronomical Society.
- The Julio Garavito Order of Merit in the Degree of Grand Cross, the highest distinction awarded by the national government of Colombia in the field of engineering, was established on 5 January 1965, the centenary of the birth of Julio Garavito.
- On 27 August 1970 the International Astronomical Union named a crater on the far side of the Moon 'Garavito crater'.
- In 1996 the Banco de la Republica issued the 20,000 Colombian Pesos banknote with a portrait of Garavito on the front and on the back side of the note is the crater on the Moon's far side named after Garavito.
- The Julio Garavito Colombian School of Engineering, founded in 1972, is named in his honour.
- The National University of Colombia's engineering building was remodelled and given Garavito's name in a ceremony on 21 November 2014.
- On 13 August 1993, the District Institute of Culture and Tourism awarded their "Honour to cultural merit" Medal to Garavito.
- The award was received by his great-nephew, Clemente Garavito Baraya, President of the Geographic Society of Colombia, during the closing ceremony of the Conference on Geography and Astronomy.
Born 5 January 1865, Bogotá, Colombia. Died 11 March 1920, Bogotá, Colombia.
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive