Person: Whitrow, Gerald
Gerald Whitrow undertook research on relativity and wrote a number of books, especially on 'time'. He believed that the history of science was important in works describing technical mathematics. He put this into practice in both his papers and his books.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Gerald was the elder of his parents' two sons.
- Soon after the move, Gerald began his schooling at Wix's Lane School.
- Whitrow impressed Chaundy so much that he arranged for Whitrow to receive a scholarship to study at Christ Church College, Oxford.
- Whitrow graduated from Christ's Hospital on 29 July 1930 and, in October of that year, began his university studies of mathematics at Christ College.
- Chaundy became Whitrow's tutor at Christ Church College and advised him throughout his undergraduate career.
- Although Whitrow studied a broad range of mathematical topics, his love was directed more towards the pure side rather than in applications.
- Whitrow began publishing papers even before graduating with his first degree.
- Whitrow set about trying to 'bridge the gap' with his second paper, Continuity and Irrational Number, which appeared in The Mathematical Gazette in July 1933.
- Although Whitrow only began attending Milne's lectures on relativity in January 1933, already by 19 March of that year he had submitted the paper A derivation of the Lorentz formulae to The Quarterly Journal of Mathematics.
- The method used by Whitrow in this paper had been suggested by Milne and, based on ideas in lectures given by Milne beginning in October 1933, Whitrow wrote On equivalent observers which he submitted to The Quarterly Journal of Mathematics on 21 January 1935.
- Later in 1935 Whitrow was elected to a Harmsworth Senior Scholarship in mathematics at Merton College.
- Whitrow was awarded his D.Phil.
- When the war ended in 1945, Whitrow returned to his university career but not back at Oxford, rather he was appointed as an assistant lecturer at Imperial College, London.
- Magda Whitrow became an outstanding bibliographer and historian of science.
- Gerald Whitrow remained at Imperial College for the rest of his career.
- Dr Whitrow is, however, particularly well qualified to write also upon both the historical and philosophical aspects of his subject: readers specially interested in these aspects will be glad to find that his presentation keeps them so well in view.
- Whitrow also edited, and contributed to, Einstein: The man and his achievement (1967).
- Despite the evident efforts of Drs Whitrow, Sciama and Bonnor, who prepared the summary statements, their necessarily extremely abbreviated accounts can carry no very clear idea of Einstein's work to those unacquainted with relativity and quantum theory.
- Let us return to a description of Whitrow's career.
- Whitrow made major contributions to the Royal Astronomical Society.
- Following his death, the Royal Astronomical Society founded the Gerald Whitrow Lecture and it was first awarded in 2001.
- In this capacity Whitrow edited the third volume of the Records of the Club.
- The history of science played a large role in Whitrow's life starting in his undergraduate days.
- Whitrow was also a major figure in the founding of the British Society for the History of Mathematics.
- approached Gerald Whitrow, who gave his enthusiastic support and agreed to chair this exploratory meeting.
- Whitrow served as the first President of the British Society for the History of Mathematics in 1971-74.
- It is worth noting that, as an historian, Whitrow was interested in the background to the research problems he was studying.
- In this he showed great expertise but, in some ways, it was a restricted view of the history of mathematics as this review by Dirk Struik of one of Whitrow's last papers, Why did mathematics begin to take off in the sixteenth century?
- After Whitrow died in June 2000, there was a private funeral after which his ashes were scattered on the Christ Church Meadow.
- Whitrow was a man of complete integrity, who was always totally dedicated to whatever he had in hand and courteous to a fault.
- In 2013 the Commission on Bibliography and Documentation of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology/Division of History of Science and Technology founded the Neu-Whitrow Bibliography Prize to be awarded every four years to an individual or team for creating the most innovative research tool for managing, documenting and analysing sources within the history of science and technology.
- It is named after the outstanding bibliographers John Neu of the University of Wisconsin, and Magda Whitrow.
Born 9 June 1912, Kimmeridge, Dorset, England. Died 2 June 2000, Merton, London, 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