Person: Gray, Andrew
Andrew Gray was a Scot who became Professor of Physics at University College Bangor and then returned to Glasgow as Kelvin's successor.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Gray attended the Subscription School in Lochgelly where the practical nature of mathematics was stressed in a rather unusual way.
- In this way Gray, when a boy, measured the distance of Nelson's monument on the Calton Hill, the lighthouse on the island of Inchkeith, the Martello tower at Leith Harbour, North Berwick Law, and other objects that can be seen from Burntisland.
- In later life Gray always tried to make sure the problems he set the students as practical and as humanly interesting as possible.
- Gray then received private tuition in Edinburgh before entering the University of Glasgow in 1872.
- In 1874, while he was still an undergraduate, Gray was appointed private assistant and secretary to Sir William Thomson (later Lord Kelvin), who was Professor of Natural Philosophy at Glasgow.
- Gray assisted by marking the examination papers for Kelvin's Senior Honours Natural Philosophy class.
- Gray succeeded Kelvin as Professor of Natural Philosophy at Glasgow in 1899, winning the chair against strong competition.
- Where Kelvin might easily have fallen foul of modern teaching quality assessments, Gray's attention to detail, his advice and guidance to students, kindness, and pastoral care would have seen him through with flying colours.
- Gray reorganized the obsolete department he inherited at Glasgow, and founded the Natural Philosophy Institute in 1906, the largest building devoted to physics in Britain; by 1923 more than 600 students a year took laboratory courses there.
- One of their sons, James Gray, has a biography in this archive.
- On 5 March 1883, Gray was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
- He was proposed by William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), James Thomson Bottomley, James Thomson, and James Gray McKendrick.
- Gray was also elected to the Royal Society of London, becoming a fellow in 1896.
- Gray wrote a number of excellent books and published many papers in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the Royal Society of London.
- The first of these was revised by Gray in 1922 in collaboration with MacRobert.
- Gray's final major work was Treatise on Gyrostatics and Rotational Motion (1919).
- Towards the end of his life, Gray spent his holidays in the Perthshire mountains enjoying this as much as he had the Welsh hills during his period in Bangor.
- It was a source of satisfaction to him that James Gordon Gray, his second son, had renounced the engineering profession for physics and been appointed professor of applied physics at Glasgow.
Born 2 July 1847, Lochgelly, Fife, Scotland. Died 10 October 1925, Glasgow, Scotland.
View full biography at MacTutor
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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