Hevelius is buried in St. Catherine’s Church in Gdansk. The construction of the current church began before 1379 and the consecration of the first phase of the building was on the feast of Pentecost of 1432. In the 15th century a chapel and a tower were added and the church’s vault was finished. One century later the side naves were added to te presbytery.
Hevelius was the head Protestant councillor in St. Catherine for 47 years and he often made astronomical observations from the tower of the church. Thus, when he died nobody doubted that he had to be buried behind the altar:
His epitaph was founded by his grand-son Daniel Gottlob-Davisson and the work was completed in 1779. You can see some astronomical instruments in the lower part. Under the portrait there is an inscription “To Jan Heweliusz with respect due to such man”.
There also is a plaque placed in the same column on January 28, 2011, to conmemorate 400 years of Hevelius’ birth:
Location: St. Catherine’s Church in Gdansk (map)
Copernicus died on 24 May 1543 and was buried in the cathedral of Frombork but there is no record of where his tomb was located.
Hi tomb was searched in several occasions (1802, 1909, 1939 and 2004) but it wasn’t until 2005 that a team led by Jerzy Gąssowski discovered what they believed to be Copernicus’ remains. The discovery was announced only after further research, on 3 November 2008 and now we are lucky to be able to visit his tomb.
Near the main entrance of the cathedral there is the first clue to see that you are in the correct place:
Two columns later, you find the new grave of the astronomer:
Through a small window located on the floor it’s possible to see the new sarcophagus with a portrait of him:
The heliocentric system is represented in the top of this new monument…
… and not so far you can find the portrait from the epitaphiumfrom 1735. The Chapter of Warmia erected the first stone with an epitaph for Copernicus in 1580 but after the destruction of it in the 18th century, a new one was erectedin a place having no connection to the actual burial place of the tomb.
I visited Euler’s tomb in 2012, Newton’s tomb in 2013 and now, Copernicus’ tomb in 2014. Who will be the next?
Location: Frombork castle (map)
Today is my birthday and among all the possible mathematical posts that I can write I’ve decided to show Tycho Brahe’s tomb. I don’t know the reason but I feel good when I am in front of the tomb of one of the great scientifics! It’s like being with them and their works. I often read about their lifes and their tombs are another section of the stories which explain their fortune, jobs,…
Today Tycho Brahe has been the guest star in Prague. I had been here twice before but I hadn’t never visited the Church of Our Lady before Tyn where Brahe was buried.
The legend says that on October 13, 1601, Tycho Brahe attended a banquet where he drank a lot and he was so polite to leave the table to empty his bladder. So he became ill and suffered from fever, delirious and periods of unconsciousness until his death on the 24th October.
He was buried near the altar of Our Lady before Tyn where a marble monument was erected in 1604, the same year in which his wife Kirsten Jörgensdatter died and was buried next to him.
When the tomb was opened in 1901, the scientist thought that Brahe had been poissoned from the high level of mercury which they found in his hair. In 2010 the tomb was re-opened and new investigations demonstrated that this level of mercury wasn’t able to kill him so it’s impossible to know how Tycho Brahe died.
Thus, if you visit Prague you must go to this emblematic church of the city to see the tombstone and imagine how this great astronomer died. One thing more, Brahe had a silver prothesys in his nose because he was hurt in a duel when he was young but this interesting historical piece hadn’t been found.
Here you have a drawing by Josef Carmine of Our Lady before Tyn at the end of the 18th century:
Location: Church of Our Lady before Tyn (map)
The third step in the visit to the Royal Observatory of Greenwich is Flamsteed House.
The Royal Observatory of Greenwich was founded in 1675 when Charles II ordered that a small observatory be built in Greenwich Park and appointed John Flamsteed as his ‘astronomical observator’. Flamsteed’s task was to make observations that would improve astronomical navigation, in particular providing a means of finding longitude at sea.
The ceiling of the first room is painted with a map of the night sky and there are portraits of the ten Astronomers Royal who lived here between 1676 and 1948:
Christopher Wren was responsible for building the Observatory. He later said that it was designed ‘for the Observator’s habitation & a little for Pompe’. The following four rooms were Flamsteed’s living quarters. They were incorporated into the enlarged home of the Astronomer’s Royal over the next two and a half centuries. Beyond these, upstairs, is the magnificient Great Star Room, or Octagon Room.
The Octagon Room is one of the few surviving interiors designed by Wren and it was used mainly for observing eclipses, comets and other unusual celestial events.
The 32-inch Astronomical Quadrant is located in this room. It is signed by John Bird but the telescope which was once attached is missing.
The engraving of the Octagon Room by Francis Place shows a similar, earlier quadrant standing on a wheel-tripod platform, which allowed the astronomer to roll it from window to window.
On the wall behind the quadrant we can see three replicas of the clocks which were made in 1676 by Thomas Tompion and sold by Flamsteed’s widow some years later. There is also a replica telescope tube of the kind used here until 1765. Will my daughter be able to discover a new planet?
If we go downstairs now we’ll discover an exhibition about the determination of the longitude at sea:
Where am I?
At sea, navigation is a matter of life and death. Out of sight of land, how can you tell where you are?
By 1700, skilled seamen could find their position north or south (their latitude), but still lacked accurated instruments or methods to calculate their east-west position, known as longitude.
With growing international trade, the lives and valuable cargoes lost in shipwrecks made solving this ‘Longitude Problem’ urgent for all sea-going nations.
The exhibition starts with these two 17th-century globes from North Africa (left) and Persia (right) and then you meet the star of the ‘Longitude Problem’:
Finding longitude – the timekeeper method
One solution to the Longitude Problem was an accurate and portable sea-going clock. By 1726, news of the Longitude Prize had reached John Harrison, a carpenter and self-taught clockmaker from Lincolnshire. Harrison was already making highly accurate land-based clocks and had solved major problems to do with temperature change and friction.
Harrison spent the next 45 years of his life developing portable sea-going timekeepers that would accurately, in spite of a ship’s motion and temperature changes. Each timekeeper represented years of obsessive labour.
By 1760, Harrison had solved the Longitude Problem with his fourth marine timekeeper, now known as H4. It is one of the most important machines ever made.
Harrison’s first timekeeper [H1]
This timekeeper took five years to build. In 1736, it was tested on a sea voyage to Lisbon and back. Harrison was very seasick, but the timekeeper worked. It was the most accurate sea-going clock then known, though not quite accurate enough to win the 20.000 pounds prize.
This prize was offered in 1734 by the British government for a ‘practical and useful’ method enabling ships to determine their longitude at sea.
In the exhibition there are also some timekeepers more and the portraits of some of the most important scientific men which lived in the same time as Harrison: Halley succeeded Flamsteed as Astronomer Royale and his major programme was to replace all the astronomical instruments which were sold by Flamsteed’s widow, and to chart the Moon’s 19-year cycle.
Newton advised the Parliamentary committee that established the Longitude Prize and became a member of the Board of Longitude:
Finally, apart of the camera obscura, we can find outside the Family Tombstone of Halley which was moved to the Observatory from the churchyard of St. Margaret’s in Lee when Halley’s tomb was restored in 1854. The tomb itself is still located at St. Margaret’s with a replica tombstone in place:
As you have seen, you must visit the Royal Observatory in Greenwich if you visit London: it’s only a few metro stops from the center of the city!
Before coming back to our hotel we have gone to Vår Frelsers gravlund to visit some famous tombs. The painter Edvard Munch is one of the Norwegian figures who are buried there but I’ve taken profit of this visitlooking for among all the old graves because… I’ve found Sophus Lie’s tomb in the area number 30 of the cemetery.
According to Wikipedia:
His first mathematical work, Repräsentation der Imaginären der Plangeometrie, was published, in 1869, by the Academy of Sciences in Christiania and also by Crelle’s Journal. That same year he received a scholarship and traveled to Berlin, where he stayed from September to February 1870. There, he met Felix Klein and they became close friends. When he left Berlin, Lie traveled to Paris, where he was joined by Klein two months later. There, they met Camille Jordan and Gaston Darboux. But on 19 July 1870 the Franco-Prussian War began and Klein (who was Prussian) had to leave France very quickly. Lie decided then to visit Luigi Cremonain Milan but he was arrested at Fontainebleau under suspicion of being a German spy, an event which made him famous in Norway. He was released from prison after a month, thanks to the intervention of Darboux.
Lie obtained his PhD at the University of Christiania (present day Oslo) in 1871 with a thesis entitled On a class of geometric transformations. It would be described by Darboux as “one of the most handsome discoveries of modern Geometry”. The next year, the Norwegian Parliament established an extraordinary professorship for him. That same year, Lie visited Klein, who was then at Erlangen and working on the Erlangen program.
At the end of 1872, Sophus Lie proposed to Anna Birch, then eighteen years old, and they were married in 1874. The couple had three children: Marie (b. 1877), Dagny (b. 1880) and Herman (b. 1884).
In 1884, Friedrich Engel arrived at Christiania to help him, with the support of Klein and Adolph Mayer (who were both professors at Leipzig, by then). Engel would help Lie to write his most important treatise, Theorie der Transformationsgruppen, published in Leipzig in three volumes from 1888 to 1893. Decades later, Engel would also be one of the two editors of Lie’s collected works.
In 1886 Lie became professor at Leipzig, replacing Klein, who had moved to Göttingen. In November 1889 he suffered a mental breakdown and had to be hospitalized until June 1890. Lie resigned from his post in May 1898 and returned to Norway in September of that year.
He was made Honorary Member of the London Mathematical Society in 1878, Member of the French Academy of Sciences in 1892, Foreign Member of the Royal Society of London in 1895 and foreign associate of theNational Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in 1895.
Sophus Lie died at the age of 56, due to pernicious anemia, a disease caused by impaired absorption of vitamin B12.
Lie is buried together with his wife Anna and his son Herman:
We can read on the grave: Professor Sophus Lie, 17.12.1842-18.2.1899 Anna Lie fodt Birch 24.4.1854-12.6.1920 Herman Lie 22.4.1884-7.5.1960.
Location: Vår Frelsers gravlund in Oslo (map)
I tried to find Brook Taylor’s tomb when I was in London. Taylor (1685-1731) is well known from his famous Taylor series which we can find in all the mathematical texts of our students. He contributed to the development of calculus (he also made some experiments in magnetism) and became one of the most important English mathematicians of the 17th century.
When I read that Taylor was buried in St. Anne’s churchyard I thought that I had to find a grave in a cemetery but… the churchyard is a public garden nowadays! So the tombs have been replaced by tables, chairs, cold beverages and music. For the moment I was content with the information I read on a bulletin board:
The Church of St. Anne, Soho, built 1677-1685 and probably designed by Sir Christopher Wren or William Talman, possibly both, was consecrated by Henry Compton, Bishop of London, on 21st March 1686. […] The churchyard was included in the original proposals for the establishment of a new parish and church, and for some one hundred and sixty years it served as the last resting place for most of Soho’s cosmopolitan population. It has been stimated that there were over 100.000 interments in this plot of just three-quarters of an acre, with about 14.000 of them in the period 1830-1850.
By the middle of the 19th century the insanitary conditions caused by overcrowded burial grounds had given rise to so much public concern that Parliament was obliged to pass a series of Burials Acts. In 1853 churchyards within the Metropolis were closed to further interments which thereafter took place in the new suburban cemeteries. […]
So, Taylor’s tomb is somewhere in this plot of three-quarters of an acre together with 99.999 people more.
Location: St. Anne’s Churchyard (map)
Isaac Newton (1642-1727) is one of the most important scientific men in the World! He invented the differential calculus and his Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (“Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”), first published in 1687, laid the foundations for most of classical mechanics. So my visit to the Westminster Abbey had to be a special moment in the holidays because I was going to see his tomb (meanwhile I was writting the chapter about him in my new book which is going to be published in 2014!). However, the first thing that everybody in the abbey tell you when you arrive there is… “Taking photos is forbidden!). It can’t be possible!
Newton’s tomb is in the nave against the choir screen. It was sculpted in 1731 by Michael Rysbrack to the designs of the architect William Kent (1685-1748). It’s made of grey and white marble and it supports a sarcophagus with a relief panel:
It is possible to pick out eight little boys playing with different astronomical and scientific instruments as a telescope, a prism or an oven (Newton was also a good alchemist!). In the middle of the picture you can see a representation of the Heliocentric model: the Sun is in the left and is followed by Mercury, Venus, the Earth and the Moon below it, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
Newton is resting on four of his famous books: Divinity, Chronology, Optiks and the Principia Mathematica. He is pointing to the picture held up by two angels which represents a mathematical scheme and a formula. There is a globe over him with the Zodiacal signs graved on it and an allegory of the Astronomy sitting on the top.
A beautiful inscription is on the pedestal that holds the sarcophagus:
Here is buried Isaac Newton, Knight, who by a strength of mind almost divine, and mathematical principles peculiarly his own, explored the course and figures of the planets, the paths of the comets, the ideas of the sea, the dissimilarities in rays of light, and, what no other scholar has previously imagined, the properties ofthe colours thus produced. Diligent, sagacious and faithful, in his expositions of nature, antiquity and the Holy Scriptures, he vindicated by his philosophy the majesty of God mighty and good and expressed the simplicity of the Gospel in his manners. Mortals rejoice that there has existed such and so great an ornament of the human race. He was born on 25th December 1642 and died on 20th March 1726.
As the photos are forbidden, I was lucky when I found a guard who allowed me to take the pictures of this post! You must visit it if you go to London! Among all the Kings, Queens, poets,… here you will gaze at one of the most charismatic mathematical monuments in the World!
St. Paul’s Cathedral is the masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren. It was built between 1675 and 1710 after its predecessor was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, and services began in 1697.
A lot of very important English men like Lord Nelson or the Duke of Wellington are buried here but among all these names we notice that the great Christopher Wren was also buried here under the crypt:
On the wall next to the grave there is this plaque written in Latin:
Christopher Wren is buried under the founder of this church and of the city. He lived beyond the age of ninety, not to himself but for the public good reader. If you seek his monument, look around you.
Died February 25, 1723, s. 91.
There is also a memorial plaque for “one of the most ingenious men who ever lived”: Robert Hooke.
It’s forbidden to take pictures in the cathedral but it’s always possible to find a guard who allows you to take a pair of them. Thank you very much anonymous guard!
This musical tomb or burial monument is located in one of the inner walls of Bath Abbey. Unfortunately, there are some needless pictures which cover one part of it but we can notice our mathematical interest in the carved drawing. It consist in an organon with a curious rectangular triangle in its base:
Harmony represented by the theorem of Pythagoras! The triangle is the classical (3,4,5) in its version (60, 80, 100) so it’s easy to identify the longitudes of the rest of the segments. The grave has the name of the composer Henry Harington who also studied medicine and founded the Bath Harmonic Society. We can read:
Memoriae sacrum HENRICI HARINGTON. M:D: verè nobili HARINGTONORUM stirpe de Kelston. In agro Somerset: oriundi: Qui natus Septembris 29 A.D. 1727, obiit Januarii 15. A.D. 1816. Per sexaginta annos suae Bathoniae saluti. Omnibus officiis afsidue studebat. Optimas artes ad municipum suorum. Nelectacionnem et militatem excolens…
One of the books in the right lower corner of the picture is from Euclid:
Bath Abbey is a wonderful construction and it’s possible that almost everybody don’t notice this particular monument. So you have a very good oportunity to admire a mathematical objecti inside a church. If not, you can always follow the angels climbing on its beautiful facade:
Location: Bath Abbey in Bath (map)
Vassili Evdokimovitch Adadurov (1709-1780) attended religious studies in Novgorod. When he was 14 y.o., he joined the Slavic Greek Latin Academy (founded in 1685-1687) and graduated in 1726 to become a mathematics student and principal disciple of Jacques Bernoulli at the University. Because of his aptitudes and the recommendation of Bernoulli, Adadurov was appointed to assistant professor of mathematics and translator of German language and two years later he participated in the standardization of the Russian language. Regarding the area of mathematics, he was the translator of Euler’s works from German to Russian and Latin so he deserves to be buried next to Swiss grand-master in Laura Alexander Nevski in Saint Petersburg.