Horace Lamb

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Sir Horace Lamb
Lamb Horace bw.jpg
Sir Horace Lamb
Born (1849-11-27)27 November 1849
Stockport, Cheshire, England
Died 4 December 1934(1934-12-04) (aged 85)
Cambridge, England
Nationality British
Fields Applied mathematics
Academic advisors James Clerk Maxwell
George Gabriel Stokes[1]
Known for Hydrodynamics
Notable awards Royal Medal (1902)
De Morgan Medal (1911)
Copley Medal (1923)

Sir Horace Lamb FRS[2] (/læm/; Stockport 27 November 1849 – 4 December 1934 Cambridge)[3] was a British applied mathematician and author of several influential texts on classical physics, among them Hydrodynamics (1895) and Dynamical Theory of Sound (1910).[4] Both of these books are still in print.

Biography[edit]

Early years[edit]

Lamb was born at Stockport in Cheshire, the son of John Lamb and his wife Elizabeth, née Rangeley.[3] He studied at Stockport Grammar School, Owens College, Manchester, and Trinity College, Cambridge where he was Second Wrangler in the Mathematical Tripos, 2nd Smith's Prizeman and elected fellow in 1872.[5] His professors included James Clerk Maxwell and George Gabriel Stokes.

Career[edit]

In 1875 Lamb was appointed the first (Sir Thomas) Elder Professor of Mathematics at the newly founded University of Adelaide. For the next 10 years the average number of students doing the arts course at Adelaide was fewer than 12; though Lamb also did some popular lecturing, his workload was relatively light. In 1878 appeared his able and original A Treatise on the Mathematical Theory of the Motions of Fluids.

In 1883 Lamb published a paper in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society[6] applying Maxwell's equations to the problem of oscillatory current flow in spherical conductors, an early examination of what was later to be known as the skin effect. Lamb was appointed to the Chair of Mathematics at the Victoria University of Manchester in 1885 and which became the Beyer Chair in 1888, a position Lamb held until retirement in 1920. His Hydrodynamics appeared in 1895 (6th ed. 1933), and other works included An Elementary Course of Infinitesimal Calculus (1897, 3rd ed. 1919), Propagation of Tremors over the Surface of an Elastic Solid (1904), The Dynamical Theory of Sound (1910, 2nd ed. 1925), Statics (1912, 3rd ed. 1928), Dynamics (1914), Higher Mechanics (1920) and The Evolution of Mathematical Physics (1924).

In 1932 Lamb, in an address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, wittily expressed on the difficulty of explaining and studying turbulence in fluids. He reportedly said, "I am an old man now, and when I die and go to heaven there are two matters on which I hope for enlightenment. One is quantum electrodynamics, and the other is the turbulent motion of fluids. And about the former I am rather optimistic."[7]

Lamb is also known for description of special waves in thin solid layers. Now these waves are called Lamb waves.

In 1875, Lamb married Elizabeth Foot (24 May 1845 – 9 March 1930) of Dublin. Lamb was survived by three sons and four daughters. The sons (who included the painter Henry Lamb) were born at Adelaide, South Australia, and all became distinguished.

He is buried at the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground in Cambridge, with his wife.

Honours and awards[edit]

Lamb was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1884, was twice vice-president, received its Royal Medal in 1902 and, its highest honour, the Copley Medal in 1924. He was president of the London Mathematical Society 1902–1904, president of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, and president[8] of the British Association in 1925. He was knighted in 1931. A room in the Alan Turing Building at the University of Manchester is named in his honour and in 2013 the Sir Horace Lamb Chair was created at Manchester.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Horace Lamb at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. ^ Love, A. E. H.; Glazebrook, R. T. (1935). "Sir Horace Lamb. 1849-1934". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society 1 (4): 374. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1935.0003.  edit
  3. ^ a b R. B. Potts, 'Lamb, Sir Horace (1849 - 1934)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, MUP, 1974, pp 54-55. Retrieved 5 Sep 2009
  4. ^ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Horace Lamb", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews .
  5. ^ "Lamb, Horace (LM867H)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  6. ^ Lamb, H. (1883). "On Electrical Motions in a Spherical Conductor". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 174: 519–526. doi:10.1098/rstl.1883.0013.  edit
  7. ^ "Tackling Turbulence with Supercomputers". Retrieved 2008-06-30. 
  8. ^ Presidential Address to the British Association Meeting, held in Southampton in 1925

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Arthur Schuster
Beyer Chair of Applied Mathematics at University of Manchester
1888 – 1920
Succeeded by
Sydney Chapman