John McCowan (4 feb 1863 – 24 nov 1900) was a Scottish physicist born in Bridge of Allan, near Stirling, Scotland, to tailor William McCowan and his wife Mary McKay. He was educated at the University of Glasgow (B.Sc. 1883, M.A 1886, D.Sc. 1892). He taught first at the Royal College of Science for Ireland (in Dublin) from 1884 to 1888, and from then on at University College, Dundee. McCowan was a pioneer in the study of the fluid mechanics and physics behind surfing, and his papers on wave theory are still being cited over a century later. His career was cut short due to heart issues, and he died age 37.
- J. McCowan, On the solitary wave, Philosophical Magazine, Vol. 32, pp. 45–58 (1891).
- J. McCowan, On the highest wave of permanent type, Philosophical Magazine, Vol. 38, pp. 351–358 (1894).
- MacTutor: History of Mathematics archive John McCowan
- Science and Discovery: John McCowan at beamccowan.com
- Hydraulicians in Europe, 1800-2000: a biographical dictionary of leaders in hydraulic engineering and fluid mechanics Journal of Hydraulic Research. Volume 42, 2004 - Issue 4
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