Person: Jeffreys (2), Bertha Swirles
Bertha Swirles Jeffreys was an English physicist who carried out research on quantum theory. She co-authored an important text-book on mathematical physics with her husband.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Stimpson Avenue Elementary School was a natural place for Bertha to attend for her primary education which she did for three years until Northampton School for Girls opened in 1915.
- Bertha Swirles had studied both mathematics and physics as an undergraduate, having attended physics courses by Joseph John Thomson and Ernest Rutherford.
- Another of Fowler's research students, Paul Dirac, was a couple of years ahead of Swirles.
- But the person who had the most influence on Swirles's research was another research student Douglas Hartree who suggested the first research problem she attacked, studying the polarizability of atomic cores.
- The Yarrow Fellowship supported Swirles for the two sessions 1925-27, following which her next year was financed by a Hertha Ayrton Research Fellowship which allowed her to spent the year at Göttingen in Germany.
- Returning to England in 1928, Swirles was appointed as a assistant lecturer at the University of Manchester.
- Milne had collaborated with Fowler while at Cambridge and he was in a good position to provide Swirles with guidance in her research.
- Swirles left Manchester in 1931, working as an assistant lecturer in Bristol during 1931-32, then as an assistant lecturer at Imperial College, London, in 1932-33.
- The result was a publication of D R Hartree, W Hartree and B Swirles, Self-consistent field, including exchange and superposition of configurations, with some results for oxygen published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London in 1939.
- By the time this paper was in print, Swirles was back at Girton College, Cambridge, where she took up a Fellowship and a Lectureship in Mathematics.
- At Girton, Bertha Jeffreys continued to undertake research on quantum theory publishing papers such as The classification of multipole radiation (1952), The use of the Airy functions in a potential barrier problem (1956), and The asymptotic approximation (AA) method (1961).
- Mary Cartwright became Mistress of Girton in 1949, and Bertha Jeffreys took over her previous role of Director of Studies in Mathematics and Mechanical Sciences.
- She took a personal and warm interest in all her students and there was often "open house" for them on Sunday evenings at the Jeffreys residence halfway between Girton and the centre of Cambridge.
- This used to involve sampling Bertha's homemade flapjack whilst Sir Harold sat on the floor doing the Times crossword.
- She was an editor for four of the volumes of the Collected Papers of Sir Harold Jeffreys on Geophysics and other Sciences (1971-77).
- Throughout much of her life, Bertha Jeffreys was actively involved with the Mathematical Association.
Born 22 May 1903, Northampton, England. Died 18 December 1999, Cambridge, 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