Sir William Rowan Hamilton
One of the most imaginative mathematicians of the nineteenth century, Sir William Rowan Hamilton (1805–1865) changed the course of modern algebra with his discovery of quaternions in 1843. Although Hamilton's work was largely theoretical, his ideas came to have invaluable practical applications with the advent of quantum mechanics in the twentieth century. In this acclaimed biography, Thomas L. Hankins brings together the many aspects of Hamilton's life and work—from his significant contributions to mathematics, optics, and mechanics to his passion for metaphysics, poetry, and politics—fully portraying the brilliant man whose faith and idealism guided him in everything he did.
About the Author
Thomas L. Hankins is a professor emeritus of the history of science at the University of Washington.
"By a combination of exacting scholarship and distinguished writing, Hankins has produced a book which is both an important record and a marvelous read."
"An interesting, well-written biography of the great nineteenth-century mathematician."
"Hankins has given [Hamilton] the detailed biography that he merits. The author integrates his discussions of Hamilton's poetic, metaphysical and mathematical facets to provide a balanced picture of a complex individual against the background of the religious, philosophical, political, and social movements of the time."
"Thomas Hankins has given us much more than just a good biography of a leading scientific personality of the 19th century, although that it certainly is... Thorough in the scientific aspects of his book, the author also deals substantially with the philosophical, religious, and political events that bore so heavily on Hamilton's work and personal life."
"[A] most welcome general biography of Hamilton... an interesting account of a fascinating life."
"Hankins' biography is analytic... comprehensive, and ambitiously aimed at integrating all the facets of Hamilton's richly productive but troubled life... In the difficult genre of scientific biography, where good books are rare, Hankins's Hamilton is excellent."
"Hankins's treatment of Hamilton's works is always clear and concise. His biography displays a mastery of the technical details of Hamilton's mathematics as well as an understanding of the origins of Hamilton's ideas... This biography is extraordinarily well written and a pleasure to read."
Other Titles in SCIENCE / History
Other Titles in History of science