From Newton to Hawking
A History of Cambridge University's Lucasian Professors of Mathematics
Author(s): Edited by Kevin C. Knox, Richard Noakes, Foreword by Stephen W. Hawking
Publication Date: 01-03-2007
Cambridge University's Lucasian Professorship of Mathematics is one of the most celebrated academic positions in the world. Since its foundation in 1663, the chair has been held by seventeen men who represent some of the best and most influential minds in science and technology. Principally a social history of mathematics and physics, the story of these great natural philosophers and mathematical physicists is told here by some of the finest historians of science. The journey begins with the search for a benefactor able to establish a 'mathematicus professor honorarius', and travels through the life and work of the professors, exploring aspects from the heroic to the absurd. Covering both the great similarities and the extreme differences in mathematical physics over the last four centuries, this informative work offers interesting perspectives on world-famous scientists including Isaac Newton, Charles Babbage, G. G. Stokes, Paul Dirac and Stephen Hawking.
"By revealing failures and foibles rather than telling conventional stories of truth and triumph, this book provides a multifaceted view of the past that places human beings centre-stage in science's history ... these writers convincingly illustrate how even science's greatest heroes are idiosyncratic individuals enmeshed in a wide network of activists and interests ... surprised and fascinated by the intricate cultural tapestry woven here." Notes of Records of the Royal Society