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George Green: Mathematician and Physicist 1793-1841: The Background to His Life and Work

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by D. M. Cannell


2001 / xxxix + 316 pages / Hardcover / ISBN: 978-0-898714-63-0 / List Price $105.50 / SIAM Member Price $73.85 / Order Code OT73

"Mary Cannell's fascinating life of George Green provides us with clues as to how this miller of Nottingham, with only four terms of schooling, was the first to obtain Gauss's integral theorem. It also leaves many mysteries, such as why Green was quickly forgotten in both Nottingham and Cambridge (thus his essay of 1828 had to be rediscovered by Kelvin) and whether more will ever be learned to explain his scientific work. New material documents the critical role Green's functions continue to play in mathematical physics." — Robert E. O'Malley, Jr., University of Washington

Mathematicians and lay people alike will enjoy this fascinating book that details the life of George Green, a pioneer in the application of mathematics to physical problems. Green was a mathematical physicist who spent most of the first 40 years of his life working not as a physicist but as a miller in his father's grain mill. Green received only four terms of formal schooling, and at the age of nine he had surpassed his teachers. Green studied mathematics in his spare time and in 1828 published his most famous work, An Essay on the Application of Mathematical Analysis to the Theories of Electricity and Magnetism. It was in this essay that the famous Green's Theorem and Green's functions first appeared. Although this work was largely ignored during his lifetime, it is now considered of major importance in modern physics.

This is the first major biography of Green, and the most complete picture of Green's life and education, available today. Green is presented as a person rather than as merely the inventor of a mathematical function. This updated second edition includes a new section of scientific references along with the lectures given by Julian Schwinger and Freeman Dyson at the bicentenary celebration of George Green's birth held at the University of Nottingham in 1993.

List of Illustrations; Preface to the Second Edition; Preface; Acknowledgements; Foreword; Introduction; In Memoriam: Mary Cannell; Chapter 1: Family Background; Chapter 2: George Green's Education; Chapter 3: Cambridge Interlude; Chapter 4: Bromley House Library and the Essay of 1828; Chapter 5: Sir Edward Bromhead; Chapter 6: The Publication of George Green's Further Investigations; Chapter 7: An Undergraduate at Cambridge; Chapter 8: A Fellowship at Caius College; Chapter 9: George Green's Family; Chapter 10: William Thomson and the Rediscovery of the Essay of 1828; Chapter 11: 'Honour in His Own Country'; Appendix I: The Mathematics of George Green by M. C. Thornley, formerly of the Mathematics Department, Nottingham Polytechnic; Appendix II: Mathematical Papers of George Green; Appendix IIIa: Account by William Tomlin, Esq.: 'Memoir of George Green, Esq.'; Appendix IIIb: Account by Sir E. Ffrench Bromhead; Appendix IVa: Green Family Tree; Appendix IVb: Butler Family Tree; Appendix IVc: Smith Family Tree; Appendix IVd: Tomlin Family Tree; Appendix Va: Time Chart of British Mathematicians and Men of Science; Appendix Vb: Time Chart of Other Mathematicians and Men of Science; Appendix VIa: The Greening of Quantum Field Theory: George and I by Professor Julian Schwinger; Appendix VIb: Homage to George Green: How Physics Looked in the Nineteen-Forties by Professor Freeman Dyson; Notes; References I: Biographical; References II: Scientific; Index.

ISBN: 9780898714630

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