Person: James, Ioan Mackenzie
George Temple was an English mathematician who worked on a wide variety of topics including analysis, relativity, aerodynamics and quantum mechanics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- George was nine years old and attending school.
- George Temple was educated in London, attending first Northfields Elementary School which was his local school in Northfields, the area of Ealing in which he lived.
- There he was taught by Ray Gilbert who was the first of three teachers we mention whom Temple often spoke about later in life, stressing his good fortune at having such outstanding people to begin his mathematical education.
- Temple began his secondary education at Ealing County School, later known as Ealing Grammar School for Boys, in the year it opened in 1913.
- There he was taught mathematics by P G Goodall, the second of the three teachers praised by Temple.
- At this stage Temple continued to work for the Prudential Assurance Company as his day job and studied mathematics as an evening student.
- During the year 1918-19, Temple studied mathematics and physics.
- He was taught physics by Albert Griffiths (1867-1937) who quickly saw Temple's outstanding potential.
- By the time Temple was studying at Birkbeck College, Griffiths was head of physics there and he saw that Temple was struggling with a full time job as well as his part-time study so, in 1919, he offered him a part-time research assistant position in physics at Birkbeck College.
- It was not an easy decision for Temple since giving up his full-time position at the Prudential Assurance Company for a part-time assistant position meant a big drop in salary.
- Temple published his first paper in 1922.
- In Temple's words: "Apart from von Staudt's theory of the metrization of projective geometry and Klein's proof that the only perfect optical instrument is the plane mirror, my paper provides the only application of projective geometry to physics." It may come as a surprise to readers unaccustomed to Temple's cast of thought to see von Staudt's work quoted as a physical application, but this was characteristic of Temple; to him, mathematics was simply the language of physics.
- Also in 1924 Temple published Central orbits in relativistic dynamics treated by the Hamilton-Jacobi method in the London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine.
- Temple was appointed Demonstrator in Mathematics at the City and Guilds College (now Imperial College), London in 1924.
- Alfred N Whitehead had been the main reason for Temple's move to Imperial and we have already seen that he had been impressed by the papers on relativity which Temple had published.
- However Whitehead left the chair at Imperial as Temple arrived and Sydney Chapman was appointed to fill the chair.
- Temple never wrote a Ph.D. thesis but rather submitted the three papers A theory of relativity in which the dynamical manifold can be conformally represented upon the metrical manifold (1925), On mass and energy (1925), Static and isotropic gravitational fields (1926) as his dissertation and was awarded the degree (in 1924, according to the student records).
- In 1928 Chapman obtained an 1851 Exhibition for Temple to undertake further research and he spent a year at Imperial working on quantum theory before going to Cambridge where he worked with Arthur Eddington.
- Back working at Imperial College, Temple's first book An introduction to quantum theory was published in 1931.
- William Gee Bickley (1893-1969), Temple's co-author, had been awarded an external University of London first class degree in mathematics in 1913 after studying at University College, Reading.
- After two years working at Imperial College, in 1932 Temple was appointed to a chair of mathematics at King's College London.
- Both Halliday and Jolliffe opposed Temple's appointment, having another candidate as their preferred choice.
- Temple, however, had strong support from Arthur Eddington and Andrew Forsyth who had held the chair of mathematics at Imperial College London from 1913 until he had retired in 1923.
- Jolliffe and his colleague S A White hated research and all my work in changing the character of the department." The first step was to initiate discussions with Louis Filon (and later George Jeffery) at University College.
- Temple's second book on quantum theory, The general principles of the quantum theory, appeared in 1934.
- Rather surprisingly, none of Temple's biographies we have found mention his enthusiasm for the Mathematical Association.
- It was during his stay in Farnborough that Temple was elected to the Royal Society in 1943, principally for the work on Dirac's equation.
- In the '1939 England and Wales Register', Temple is shown as living at 8 Hill Close, Hendon, Middlesex, England.
- Also living in the same house is George C McVittie with occupation 'University reader in mathematics.
- Before the war, McVittie and Temple were colleagues in mathematics at King's College, London.
- After 1945 Temple returned to King's College.
- Temple's undergraduate lectures were said to fall into two categories, both of which were delivered without notes.
- The breadth of Temple's mathematical knowledge was a constant surprise and every member of the staff benefited from informed comment on his work.
- Temple worked on a wide variety of topics.
- In 1953 Temple moved to the Sedleian chair at Oxford to succeed Sydney Chapman.
- Later in 1960 they were again on the Queen Mary, going to the University of Western Ontario where Temple had been appointed as a special advisor on the Applied Mathematics programme.
- We have already mentioned three of Temple's books but he wrote several others: An introduction to fluid dynamics (1958), Cartesian tensors: An introduction (1960), and The structure of the Lebesgue integration theory (1971).
- Professor Temple has been associated with Western since 1961 when he was special advisor on the Applied Mathematics program.
- Temple died at Kite Hill Nursing Home, Wootton Bridge, Isle of Wight, from prostate cancer and was buried at Quarr Abbey.
Born 1 September 1901, Kensington, London, England. Died 30 January 1992, Quarr Abbey, Isle of Wight, England.
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