Person: Mineur, Henri Paul
Henri Mineur was a French astronomer and mathematician who observed the variation of star movements based on their distance from the core of a galaxy.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Henri received all his schooling in Paris at the Collège Rollin where he showed remarkable talents in mathematics.
- We find in 'L'Astronomie' evidence of his modest observations when he was 15 to 16 years old and which relate to the sun, planets, double stars and variable stars; at the meeting of 6 February 1916, the Secretary General of the Astronomical Society, Camille Flammarion, reported having received a minor note, 'Détermination du méridien avec un plan à plomb et une montre non réglée' Ⓣ(Determination of the meridian with a plumb plane and an non-regulated watch) and raising his hands to heaven exclaimed, "It's full of sines in there." Mineur had, indeed, discovered mathematics.
- While still at High School, preparing for the second part of his degree, Henri Mineur had developed a passion for functional equations.
- We have already noted that Mineur had been interested in astronomy from a young age and in 1925 he left teaching to take up the post of "astronomer adjoint" in the Paris Observatory.
- Her picture of Mineur is very different from the one presented in obituaries and we quote from her at the end of this biography.
- Mineur contributed to many areas of astronomy and mathematics including celestial mechanics, analytic mechanics, statistics and numerical analysis.
- In astronomy Mineur made many significant discoveries.
- This had a huge impact for cosmology and, although ill at the time, he was able to attend the meeting in Rome in 1952 where Walter Baade announced independent confirmation of Mineur's scale for the universe.
- Mineur explained his work in this area in the book L'espace interstellaire Ⓣ(Interstellar space) (1947) which also contained details of his research into interstellar absorption.
- Mineur published Histoire de l'astronomie stellaire jusqu'à l'époque contemporaine Ⓣ(History of stellar astronomy to modern times) in 1934.
- Mineur, together with Daniel Chalonge, was the main force behind the setting up of this service.
- Mineur was Secretary General of this service and director of the Paris laboratory but he was removed from these positions by the Vichy government after the fall of France during World War II.
- During the years 1940-44 Mineur was an active member of the French Resistance risking his life on many occasions.
- Mineur had five years of bad health with heart and liver problems before his death at the early age of 55.
- It was Ferenczi and Barbier, the latter a personal friend of Mineur, who took care of the Observatoire de Haute Provence.
- Finally, we note that Mineur was twice honoured by the award of prizes from the Académie des Sciences.
Born 7 March 1899, Lille, France. Died 7 May 1954, Paris, France.
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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