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 Nikolay Lobachevsky


Born:   November 20, 1792
Deceased:   February 12, 1856

a founder of new geometry

      

Nikolay Ivanovich Lobachevsky is born in Nizhniy Novgorod on November 20, 1792, in the family of a poor petty officer.

When Nikolay gets 9, his mother brings him to Kazan and arranges Nikolay together with his two brothers to attend a grammar school for free. Since that time life and work of future star of mathematics takes place in the city of Kazan.

In February of 1807 14-year-old Nikolay becomes the student of Kazan University and shows his gift for physics and mathematics. In August of 1811 young Nikolay becomes a Master, and three years later, after presenting his two scientific works in algebra and mechanics, Lobachevsky is appointed an adjunct professor a docent. Following year he starts reading a course in mathematics, thinking about changing mathematical bases. At that time political situation in the country get more and more complicated, and Alexander I orders to start examining Russian universities, since they have always been cradle of free-thinkers.

Seven years of nearly prison regime in the university do not crush recalcitrant spirits of Lobachevsky, now a professor. He reads courses in mathematics and physics, heads department of physics, teaches geodesy and astronomy, being responsible for observatory. Later he becomes the dean of the faculty of physics and mathematics. Nikolay Ivanovichs creativity results in writing two school-books for grammar schools Geometry comes off the press in 1823 and Algebra in 1825. Both school-books are not approved due to some revolutionary changes Nikolay Ivanovich has suggested to make in traditional science. He starts experiencing problems with the universitys curator.

However, Lobachevsky keeps working on formulating geometrys bases and finally makes a brilliant discovery, which results in absolutely new geometry. The mathematician makes a report about his discovery he calls it Imaginary Geometry at his faculty. He wants to know what his colleagues think about his discovery and asks to publish his work in Scientific Notes of the faculty. However, no comments followed, and later the manuscript of his discovery is lost.

Lobachevsky makes his discovery, because he dares to doubt in the initial principles of Euclidean geometry. He demands these principles to be clear and strict. His way of thinking helps him to make a significant contribution not only to geometry but also to other fields of mathematics he defines function and distinguishes function continuity and function differentiability; he studies trigonometric series and makes many other discoveries, which later are arrogated to other scientists.

In 1827 Nikolay Ivanovich Lobachevsky becomes a rector of Kazan University and dedicates following 19 years to the university, making it flourish. He manages to introduce new educational standards, his reign results in library, astronomical and magnetic observatories, dissecting room, physical and chemical laboratories. For eight years Lobachevsky heads universitys library and reads special courses for students. His knowledge helps students and teachers to avoid cholera, and his enthusiasm saves books and scientific equipment from Kazans great fire of 1842. He popularizes science and opens free public access to the library and museums of the university.

His ideas are so revolutionary and future-oriented that brilliant scientists of his time fail to foresee their significance. However, misunderstanding and, sometimes, open humiliation, cannot force Nikolay Ivanovich to stop his studies. Several years of hard work result in Geometrical studies of theory of parallels, summarizing his ideas and published in German language in 1840. Lobachevsky doesnt receive a single positive report, except a prediction of one professor that sooner or later Lobachevskys theory would find its admirers.

Government of Nikolay I dislikes long term fruitful studies of Nikolay Ivanovich Lobachevsky, and in 1846 the genius finds himself dismissed from his university responsibilities. Such violent removal together with his elder sons death in 1852 and financial problems has negative effect on mathematicians health he nearly looses his eyesight, however, Nikolay Ivanovich keeps attending examinations and science discussions. His courage, though, remains the same he finishes his last scientific work Pangeometria the year before his death, dictating it to his followers.

Life of Nikolay Ivanovich Lobachevsky, a genial mathematician, ends on February 12, 1856.

Sources:
    Biography of N.I. Lobachevsky


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