Person: Spottiswoode, William
William Spottiswoode was an English mathematician, physicist and publisher.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- A year after William was born Andrew Spottiswoode became member of parliament for Saltash and four years later member of parliament for Colchester.
- William attended school in Laleham, then went to Eton College, one of the most prestigious schools in England situated on the Thames near London.
- Certainly this episode proved an advantage to Spottiswoode, who received better teaching in his favourite subject of mathematics in Harrow.
- From Harrow, Spottiswoode was awarded a Lyon Scholarship to attend Balliol College, Oxford, which he entered in 1842.
- On 2 June 1853 Spottiswoode was elected a fellow of the Royal Society.
- Their son, William Spottiswoode, was born in 1864.
- Certainly Spottiswoode was always a keen traveller and he visited a number of countries which were certainly somewhat unusual for the period.
- In 1861, the year of his marriage, Spottiswoode published On typical mountain ranges: an application of the calculus of probabilities to physical geography, which attempted to use statistical methods to determine whether the mountain ranges of Asia had been formed by one or several causes.
- Around 1870 there were major changes to the direction of Spottiswoode's research.
- In 1878 Spottiswoode was elected president of the Royal Society and remained president until his death in 1883.
- We mentioned the change in direction of Spottiswoode's research which turned to physical topics.
- Spottiswoode published over 100 papers and several books including, in addition to the one on determinants mentioned above: The Polarisation of Light (1874), Polarised Light (1879), and A Lecture on the Electrical Discharge, its Form and Functions (1881).
- It is remarkable that Spottiswoode was able to undertake the amount of work that he did, both scientific and administrative.
- We have mentioned above many honours which Spottiswoode received in election to learned societies and particularly to high office in these societies.
Born 11 January 1825, London, England. Died 27 June 1883, London, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
Tags relevant for this person:
Astronomy, Origin England
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive