Talk:Eric Temple Bell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search


Eric Temple Bell citation

That page was copied from this Wikipedia article. Michael Hardy 00:08, 9 January 2006 (UTC)


"his father, a fish-factor, moved to..." - what is a "fish-factor". I tried searches for it but it seems not to be anything. Perhaps it's definition 5 or 6 of "factor" here, although a source here (University of St Andrews) says Bell senior was a fish-curer and fruit grower. (talk) 18:55, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

I removed "fish-" from "fish-factor" because I, independently of the above, was unable to find it with a Google search. It appears nowhere on the internet except as a brand name for a website which is devoted to helping sport fisermen. If someone knows what "fish-factor" means they need to define it. The above post was over four years old when I independently came to the same conclusion. Nick Beeson (talk) 14:02, 13 February 2014 (UTC)

Bell writing about mathematicians[edit]

I think the reference to Andrew Wiles reading Bell's Men of Mathematics is incorrect. The article in which Wiles proves Fermat's Last Theorem says that when he was 10 years old when he read Bell's The Last Problem. See the abstract in his article from the Annals of Mathematics, 141, (1995) p. 443-551. Richard Kohar (talk) 01:38, 18 January 2016 (UTC)

As I am able to catch wikipedia's idea of neutrality so far, it appears to me that Bell's attitude should be first described... and only after this is done, criticism should be presented! Everyone working in math knows that many assertions in "Men of mathematics" have no source at all (to be optimistic); however, his main aim appears to be humanizing the subject (expression attributed to Bertrand Russell). Other biographies are hagiographic and biased in the opposite direction, presenting mathematicians as somewhat inhumane "proving-theorems-machines" (well, maybe a small amount of them actually are ;)--Paolo Lipparini (talk) 16:36, 18 December 2012 (UTC)

If there is a notable source that says Bell was involved in "humanizing the subject" this could be a candidate for inclusion. Was Russell talking about Bell? Tkuvho (talk) 16:40, 18 December 2012 (UTC)
I have found it here, I do not know whether Russell actually wrote this. Anyway, I was surprised by the (former ;) title of the section! Thanks for changing it.--Paolo Lipparini (talk) 16:49, 18 December 2012 (UTC)
It would be good to know where Russell wrote this exactly. Perhaps the back cover of Bell's book? Tkuvho (talk) 17:35, 18 December 2012 (UTC)
According to google books there are two reviews of Eric Bell's Men of Mathematics by Russell, published in The Sunday Times. Russell says "Any young person engaged in learning mathematics will profit by reading him, since he humanizes the subject and helps to a realization of the historical environment" [1] The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell - Volume 21 - p. 311. Hope you can see the links, and they give the same result (usually results are location-dependant). Leaping through the available snippets, the reviews do not appear entirely positive, but the above sentence seems sourced.--Paolo Lipparini (talk) 18:27, 18 December 2012 (UTC)
If so it can be appropriately added to the text. Actually Russell was as confused about the history of mathematics as Bell but that's another story. Tkuvho (talk) 15:00, 19 December 2012 (UTC)


I admit I am quite ignorant when it comes to this writer (which is the reason I ended up on this page), but here I find an encyclopedia entry that reads more like a deliberate critique. The emphasis on his shortcomings seems a bit bizarre when it is followed by a long list of his publications, which appears to suggest that he was a bit more than dismal - the latter being the sense I get after reading the article. I am of course not saying that these criticisms are not warranted, but I imagine if so many mathematical concepts bear his name, then perhaps it would be more appropriate to give, instead of a one-line mention-in-passing, brief outlines (with links to the main articles for more detail) of said concepts, so that we may know what it was he did to warrant such fame? The current article tells me much of why Bell may not have been the most successful historian, yet tells me almost nothing of what makes him such a well-known mathematician - the reason I looked him up in the first place. Jamshyd (talk) 07:14, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Numerology - (1st) published when ?[edit]

probably before 1933, as A. Korzybski used the quote "The map is not the thing mapped." -- sourced to "Numerology (Baltimore, no year given)" -- in "Science and Sanity" (1933) Ch. XVIII — Preceding unsigned comment added by Wda (talkcontribs) 20:34, 11 March 2014 (UTC)


In "The Last Problem", apparently published posthumously in 1961, Bell said "There was no sanitation." This was said to discredit the France of the 17th century. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:00, 16 March 2014 (UTC)

There is more in the same vein in the book. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:12, 16 March 2014 (UTC)


The sentence A recent study finds Bell's treatment of infinitesimals in Development of Mathematics as plagued by fictional excesses as his other historical work.[10] does not seem to accurately reflect the source cited [2], which states "Dismissing Bell’s martial flourishes as merely verbal excesses would be missing the point. Bell has certainly been criticized for other fictional excesses of his purportedly historical writing (thus, Rothman writes: “[E. T.] Bell’s account [of Galois’s life], by far the most famous, is also the most fictitious” [131, p. 103]); however, his confident choice of martial imagery here cannot but reflect Bell’s perception of a majority view among professional mathematicians. Bell is convinced that Berkeley refuted infinitesimals only because triumvirate historians and mathematicians told him so". Deltahedron (talk) 17:34, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

Since this is the only mention of E.T. Bell in this reference, and it doesn't really support the statement anway, I'm deleting it. Deltahedron (talk) 18:03, 7 September 2014 (UTC)