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Title: Peter Guthrie Tait : new insights into aspects of his life and work : and associated topics in the history of mathematics
Author: Lewis, Elizabeth Faith
ISNI:       0000 0004 5348 6702
Awarding Body: University of St Andrews
Current Institution: University of St Andrews
Date of Award: 2015
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In this thesis I present new insights into aspects of Peter Guthrie Tait's life and work, derived principally from largely-unexplored primary source material: Tait's scrapbook, the Tait–Maxwell school-book and Tait's pocket notebook. By way of associated historical insights, I also come to discuss the innovative and far-reaching mathematics of the elusive Frenchman, C.-V. Mourey. P. G. Tait (1831–1901) F.R.S.E., Professor of Mathematics at the Queen's College, Belfast (1854–1860) and of Natural Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh (1860–1901), was one of the leading physicists and mathematicians in Europe in the nineteenth century. His expertise encompassed the breadth of physical science and mathematics. However, since the nineteenth century he has been unfortunately overlooked—overshadowed, perhaps, by the brilliance of his personal friends, James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879), Sir William Rowan Hamilton (1805–1865) and William Thomson (1824–1907), later Lord Kelvin. Here I present the results of extensive research into the Tait family history. I explore the spiritual aspect of Tait's life in connection with The Unseen Universe (1875) which Tait co-authored with Balfour Stewart (1828–1887). I also reveal Tait's surprising involvement in statistics and give an account of his introduction to complex numbers, as a schoolboy at the Edinburgh Academy. A highlight of the thesis is a re-evaluation of C.-V. Mourey's 1828 work, La Vraie Théorie des quantités négatives et des quantités prétendues imaginaires, which I consider from the perspective of algebraic reform. The thesis also contains: (i) a transcription of an unpublished paper by Hamilton on the fundamental theorem of algebra which was inspired by Mourey and (ii) new biographical information on Mourey.
Supervisor: Roney-Dougal, Colva Mary ; Robertson, E. F. ; O'Connor, John Joseph Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Peter Guthrie Tait ; C.-V. Mourey ; Bishop Charles Hughes Terrot ; Balfour Stewart ; James Matthews Duncan ; James Clerk Maxwell ; William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) ; John Tyndall, Belfast address ; John Warren ; Cargill Gilston Knott ; Joseph Gergonne ; Augustus de Morgan ; Sir William Rowan Hamilton ; Adrien-Quentin Buée ; The unseen universe ; Tait's scrapbook ; Tait–Maxwell school-book ; Tait's pocket notebook ; Manuscripts library, Trinity College, Dublin ; Edinburgh Academy ; University of Edinburgh ; Queen's College, Belfast ; Royal Society of Edinburgh ; Peterhouse, University of Cambridge ; Tait memorial movement ; Tait and Ronaldson family history (genealogy) ; Science versus religion ; Materialism versus Christianity ; Nineteenth century (Victorian) mathematics and natural philosophy ; Tait's statistical (demographic) models ; Tait's laws ; Fecundity, Fertility, Sterility and Allied Topics ; Discovery of quaternions ; Academical club prize competition ; Tait poetry ; Franco–Prussian War poetry ; Argand diagram ; Geometrical representation of complex numbers ; Fundamental theorem of algebra ; History of mathematics ; La Vraie Théorie des quantités négatives et des quantités prétendues imaginaires ; Armand de Maizière ; QC16.T3L4 ; Tait, Peter Guthrie, 1831-1901 ; Mourey, C. -V., fl. 1828 ; Mathematics--History--19th century ; Physicists--Great Britain--Biography ; Mathematicians--Great Britain--Biography