Carl Friedrich Gauss
Gauss, Carl Friedrich (1777-1855). The German scientist and
mathematician Gauss is frequently he was called the founder of modern
mathematics. His work is astronomy and physics is nearly as significant as that
Gauss was born on April 30, 1777 in Brunswick (now it is Western
Germany). Many biographists think that he got his good health from his father.
Gauss said about himself that, he could count before he can talk.
When Gauss was 7 years old he went to school. In the third grade
students came when they were 10-15 years old, so teacher should work with
students of different ages. Because of it he gave to half of students long
problems to count, so he in that time could teach other half. One day he gave
half of students, Gauss was in this half, to add all natural numbers from 1 to
100. 10 year old Gauss put his paper with answer on the teacher’s desk first
and he was the only who has got the right answer. From that day Gauss was
popular in the whole school.
On October 15, 1795, Gauss was admitted to Georgia Augusta as “matheseos
cult.”; that is to say, as a mathematics student. But it is often pointed out
that at first Gauss was undecided whether he should become a mathematician or a
philologist. The reason for this indecision was probably that humanists at that
time had a better economic future than scientists.
Gauss first became completely certain of his choice of studies when he
discovered the construction of the regular 17-sided polygon with ruler and
compass; that is to say, after his first year at the university.
There are several reasons to support the assertion that Gauss hesitated
in his choice of a career. But his matriculation as a student of mathematics
does not point toward philology, and probably Gauss had already made his
decision when he arrived at Gottingen. He wrote in 1808 that it was noteworthy
how number theory arouses a special passion among everyone who has seriously
studied it at some time, and, as we have seen, he had found new results in this
and other areas of mathematics while he was still at Collegium Carolinum.
Gauss made great discoveries in many fields of math. He gave the proof
of the fundamental theorem of algebra: every polynomial equation with complex
coefficients has at least one complex root. He developed the theory of some
important special functions, in particular, the theory of the hypergeometric
function. This function plays significant role in modern mathematical physics.
Gauss discovered the method of so-called least squares. It is a method of
obtaining the best possible average value for a measured magnitude, for many
observations of the magnitude. The other part of mathematics that also has
close connections to Gauss, is the theory of complex numbers. Gauss gave a very
important geometric interpretation of a complex number as a point in the plane.
Besides pure mathemaics, Gauss made very important contributions in astronomy,
geodesy and other applied disciplines. For example, he predicted the location
of some sky bodies.
In 1803 Gauss had met Johanna Osthoff, the daughter of a tannery owner
in Braunschweig. She was born in 1780 and was an only child. They were married
on October 9, 1805. They were lived on in Braunschweig for a time, in the house
which Gauss had occupied as a bachelor.
On August 21, 1806, his first son Joseph was born. He received his name
after Peazzi, the discoverer of Ceres. On February 29, 1808 a daughter followed,
and gauss jokingly complained that she would only have a birthday every fourth
year. As a mark of respect to Olbers she was christened Wilhelmina. The third
child, a son, born on september 10, 1809, was named Ludwig, after Harding, but
was called Louis.After a difficult third delivery, Johanna died on October 11,
1809. Louis died suddenly on March 1, 1810.
Minna Waldeck was born in 1799, she was the youngest daughter of a
Professor Of Law, Johann Peter Waldeck, Of Gottingen. Gauss married her on
August 4, 1810. The new marriage was a happy solution to Gauss’s nonscientific
Two sons and a daughter were born in the new marriage, Eugene on July 29,
1811, Wilhelm on October 23, 1813, and Therese on June 9, 1816.
In 1816 Gauss and his family moved into the west wing, while Harding
lived in the east. During the following years, Gauss and Harding installed the
astronomical instruments. New ones were ordered in Munich. Among other times,
Gauss visited Munich in 1816.
After the intense sorrow of Johanna’s death had been mollified in his
second marriage, Gauss lived an ordinary academic life which was hardly
disturbed by the violent events of the time. His powers and his productivity
were unimpaired, and he continued with a work program which in a short time
would have brought an ordinary man to collapse.
Although Gauss was often upset about his health, he was healthy almost
all of his life. His capacity for work was colossal and it is best likened to
the contributions of different teams of researchers over a period of many years,
in mathematics, astronomy, geodesy, and physics. He must have been as strong as
a bear in order not to have broken under such a burden. He distrusted all
doctors and did not pay much attention to Olbers’ warnings. During the winters
of 1852 and 1853 the symptoms are thought to have become more serious, and in
January of 1854 Gauss underwent a careful examination by his colleague Wilhelm
Baum, professor of surgery.
The last days were difficult, but between heart attacks Gauss read a
great deal, half lying in an easy chair. Sartorius visited him the middle of
January and observed that his clear blue eyes had not lost their gleam. The end
came about a month later. In the morning of February 23, 1855 Gauss died
peacefully in his sleep. He was seventy-seven years old.
Gindikin, S.G., Stories about physicists and mathematicians, Russia, Moscow,
“Nauka”, 1982 (in Russian).
Hall, T., Carl Friedrich Gauss, The Massachusetts Institute of
Muir, Jane, Of Men and Numbers: The Story of Great Mathematicians. Dodd,
Mead, and Co, New York, 1961.