Person: Weatherburn, Charles Ernest
Charles Weatherburn worked on vector analysis and differential geometry.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Charles was educated at Blackfriars School, Chippendale, Sydney and the Sydney Boys' High School which he entered in 1897.
- This was the first building designed as a High School in any of the Colonies and it was in this building that Weatherburn studied.
- Following the award of his M.A., Weatherburn went to England in 1906, after the award of a scholarship, and studied at Trinity College Cambridge where he attended lectures by Alfred North Whitehead, Edmund Whittaker and G H Hardy.
- Charles and Lucy May Weatherburn had three sons, one of whom was Alan Keith Weatherburn (1911-2006).
- Weatherburn was appointed as a teacher of mathematics and physics at Sydney Boys' High School in 1909.
- In addition to teaching at the High School, Weatherburn also taught mathematics and physics at St Paul's College, an all male College affiliated to the University of Sydney.
- The professor of mathematics at Melbourne was John Henry Michell and he encouraged Weatherburn to write a book on vector analysis.
- Certainly vector analysis was not universally accepted at this time and Weatherburn fought the battle for its acceptance against opposition from people such as Harold Jeffreys.
- The young Weatherburn, however, read practically all the accessible literature and applied his own vector methods in an endeavour to arrive at a decision on the theory.
- The above quotation gives us a good insight into the character of Weatherburn - a man who would not take a decision lightly, who would not be swayed by others simply because of their standing and reputation, and a man who firmly believed in the simplicity and goodness of life.
- Weatherburn did indeed apply his own vector methods to the theory of general relativity and published the paper Vector algebra in general relativity in 1921.
- This paper was one of twenty that Weatherburn published while at Melbourne.
- Weatherburn left Sydney in 1923 to take up the chair of mathematics and natural philosophy in Canterbury College, University of New Zealand.
- In 1929 Weatherburn returned to Australia taking up the chair of mathematics at the University of Western Australia (founded 1911), becoming the first holder of this chair.
Born 18 June 1884, Chippendale, Sydney, Australia. Died 18 October 1974, Claremont, Perth, Australia.
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Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive