seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

Birth of Mathematician George Gabriel Stokes

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george-gabriel-stokesSir George Gabriel Stokes, mathematician, physicist, politician, and theologian, is born into an evangelical Protestant family in Skreen, County Sligo, on August 13, 1819. After attending schools in Skreen, Dublin, and Bristol, he matriculates in 1837 at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

In 1849, Stokes is appointed to the Lucasian professorship of mathematics at Cambridge, a position he holds until his death in 1903. In physics, Stokes makes seminal contributions to fluid dynamics, including the Navier–Stokes equations, and to physical optics. In mathematics he formulates the first version of what is now known as Stokes’ theorem and contributes to the theory of asymptotic expansions.

On June 1, 1899, the jubilee of his appointment is celebrated in a ceremony which is attended by numerous delegates from European and American universities. A commemorative gold medal is presented to Stokes by the chancellor of the university, and marble busts of Stokes by Hamo Thornycroft are formally offered to Pembroke College and to the university by Lord Kelvin.

Stokes, who is made a baronet in 1889, further serves his university by representing it in parliament from 1887 to 1892 as one of the two members for the Cambridge University constituency. During a portion of this period (1885–1890) he also serves as president of the Royal Society, of which he has been one of the secretaries since 1854. Since he is also Lucasian Professor at this time, Stokes is the first person to hold all three positions simultaneously.

Stokes dies on Feb. 1, 1903, at his cottage in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England. He is buried in the Mill Road Cemetery.

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