George Howard Darwin

Born: 9 July 1845 in Downe, Kent, England
Died: 7 Dec 1912 in Cambridge, England

Show birthplace location

Previous (Chronologically) Next Biographies Index
Previous (Alphabetically) Next Welcome page

George Darwin was a son of Charles Darwin. In 1883 he became Plumian professor of astronomy and experimental philosophy at Cambridge University.

He studied tidal effects on the planets. In particular, using methods introduced by Laplace and Thomson, he discussed the effects of tidal action on the Sun-Earth-Moon system. One of his theories, namely that the Moon was pulled from a molten Earth early in its history by tidal action of the Sun, is now considered incorrect.

Darwin made a major study of the three-body problem in the case of the orbits of the Sun-Earth-Moon system. He also studied the stability of rotating fluids, again motivated by his interest in the Moon being formed in fluid form from a molten Earth. His conclusions that a pear shaped rotating mass is stable is today thought to be incorrect.

Despite the fact that we do not accept Darwin's conclusions today, he is important in being the first to apply mathematical techniques to study the evolution of the Sun-Earth-Moon system.

References (4 books/articles)

References elsewhere in this archive:

George H Darwin was elected to the Royal Society of London in 1879. You can see a history of the Royal Society and a list of the members among the mathematicians in our archive.
He was awarded the Royal Medal of the Royal Society in 1884 and the Copley Medal in 1911. You can see a history of the Royal Medal and a list of the winners in our archive and a history of the Copley Medal and a list of the winners.

He was the Royal Society's Bakerian lecturer in 1891. You can see a history of the Bakerian Lectures and a list of the lecturers.

There is a Crater Darwin on Mars (named after this mathematician as well as his father). You can see a list of planetary features named after mathematicians.

Previous (Chronologically) Next Biographies Index
Previous (Alphabetically) Next Welcome page
History Topics Index Famous curves index
Chronologies Birthplace Maps
Mathematicians of the day Anniversaries for the year
Search Form Simple Search Form Search Suggestions

JOC/EFR December 1996