Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hamilton -- mathematician, poet, Irishman

     October 15-22 is Maths Week in Ireland -- as I learned from this article in the Irish Times celebrating maths and the Irish mathematician Willam Rowan Hamilton (1805 - 1865).  Turns out that Hamilton's quaternions are useful in design of video games and 3D effects in the cinema.
     Hamilton -- a mathematician, astronomer, and physicist -- was also a poet; a contemporary and friend of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. His poems do not speak of mathematics -- but here is a sonnet he wrote to honor Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier (1768 – 1830), a prominent French mathematician and physicist.

(Click on poem to enlarge.)

This poem and others by Hamilton may be found in Life of Sir Willam Rowan Hamilton by Robert Perceval Graves.  Now a google-ebook, originally published by Hodges, Figgis, & Co and part of a series from Dublin University Press.

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