Sir William Rowan Hamilton
By: Mark Speaker and Veronica Blair
Looking into the Life of Hamilton
The World Around Him
The Agricultural Revolution began in the early 1800s and completely changed the way people farmed. It made farming less labor intensive and technologically driven instead. This was the result of the creation of the Combine Harvester and the Tractor.
Many different types of technological advancements happened during Hamilton's lifetime. There were so many inventions that helped shaped the world into what it is today. Many of these inventions completely changed how that world worked and are still very important today. Some of these inventions include: the photograph (1814), the typewriter (1829), the mechanical calculator (1835), and the sewing machine (1830).
- The Civil War also took placed during the last five years of Hamilton’s life. Although it was unlikely he was affected by this because it took place solely in the United States. (1861-1865)
Zerah Colburn was a Mathematical prodigy during Hamilton’s childhood. In fact, at the age of 15 Hamilton actually had the opportunity to meet this renowned mathematician. Colburn is actually one of the main reasons that Hamilton became interested in math in the first place.
Pierre-Simon de Laplace was another famous mathematician during the same era that Hamilton was alive. Hamilton studied all of Laplace’s work intensely after becoming interested in mathematics.
Born in Dublin Ireland on August 4, 1805
Died on September 2, 1865 in Dublin Ireland
His Contributions to Mathematics
Hamilton reshaped theoretical optics by basing it on his law of varying action and his analysis of motion anticipated some of the basic notions of relativity and quantum mechanics. All of his finding helped with the development of optics, dynamics, and algebra. In 1827, his paper "A Theory of Systems of Rays." earned Hamilton praise and leverage in the academic world. His paper proved that a system of light rays filling an area of space can be focused down to a single point by a curved mirror if and only if those light rays are orthogonal to a series of surfaces.He also discovered the algebra of quaternions or the generalization of two dimensional complex number to three dimensions. In 1856 Hamilton investigated closed paths along the edges of a dodecahedron that visit each vertex exactly once. In graph theory such paths are known today as Hamiltonian circuits.
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"Sir William Rowan Hamilton." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2nd ed. Vol. 7. Detroit: Gale, 2004. 99-100. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.
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