Monday, October 31, 2011

George Gabriel Stokes

Aug 13 1819 - Feb 1 1903
Born Sligo, Ireland. Died Cambridge, England.

George Gabriel Stokes established the science of hydrodynamics with his law of viscosity (1851), describing the velocity of a small sphere through a viscous fluid. Stokes published papers on the motion of incompressible fluids in 1842-43 and on the friction of fluids in motion and the equilibrium and motion of elastic solids in 1845.

In 1849 Stokes was appointed Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge. In 1851 Stokes was elected to the Royal Society and was secretary of the Society from 1854 to 1884 when he was elected president.

He investigated the wave theory of light, named and explained the phenomenon of fluorescence in 1852, and in 1854 theorised an explanation of the Fraunhofer lines in the solar spectrum. He suggested these were caused by atoms in the outer layers of the Sun absorbing certain wavelengths. However when Kirchhoff later published this explanation Stokes disclaimed any prior discovery.

Stokes developed mathematical techniques for application to physical problems, founded the science of geodesy, and greatly advanced the study of mathematical physics in England. His mathematical and physical papers were published in 5 volumes, the first 3 of which Stokes edited himself in 1880, 1883 and 1891. The last 2 were edited by Sir Joseph Larmor in 1887 and 1891.

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