Friday, April 3, 2020

The Woman Who Bested the Men at Math

     An American Mathematical Society Page-a-Day Mathematics calendar, compiled by mathematician and free-lance writer Evelyn Lamb, has let me know today that tomorrow, April 4, marks the birthday of mathematician Philippa Garrett Fawcett (1868-1948), who became, "in 1890, the first woman to score the highest mark of all the candidates for the Mathematical Tripos at Cambridge University." 
     Learn more about Philippa Fawcett at this website, "Biographies of Women Mathematicians,: --  maintained by Emeritus Professor Larry Riddle at Agnes Scott College.  Riddle's biographic sketch of Fawcett includes a poem of anonymous origin that celebrates her 1890 achievement.  Here are its opening stanzas:

        Hail the triumph of the corset
        Hail the fair Philippa Fawcett
        Victress in the fray
            Crown her queen of Hydrostatics
            And the other Mathematics
        Wreathe her brow with bay.

        If you entertain objections
        To such things as conic sections
        Put them out of sight
            Rather sing of the essential
            Beauty of the Differential
        Calculus tonight. 
              . . .

To learn more about Fawcett and to find the final three stanzas of this poem go here.
And, if time permits, visit this blog's earlier posting about Fawcett.

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