Nicolas de Condorcet: Nick did some important work on differential and integral calculus, but the story of his death is what is truly memorable.
Nick was imprisoned during a sweep of all non-workers and aristocrats during the French Revolution in the 1790s. When it was time to eat, Nick ask his jailers for an omelet. “How many eggs do you want in your omelet?” they asked. Nick, being a dandy nobleman, had never made an omelet - never even seen one made - asked for “twelve.” The jailers asked to see Nick’s hands which confirmed their suspicions: Condorcet had never done any manual work in his life. They sent him to the guillotine. Nick died, sans head, 28 March 1794 at the age of 50.
eulerstalker asked: tell me about Leonhard Euler's death ::::)
Well, Euler died on 18th of September 1783. He was at home with his family, still extremely engaged in mathematics. Euler died of a stroke, attributed to his advanced age. His last words were “I die,” heard by his grandson. Euler was blind by the time of his death, but that did not stop him from doing important mathematics. He merely dictated his thoughts to one of his family members.
Ettore Majorana: One of my favorite strange ends to a brilliant scientist. Ettore had an amazing math mind and did extensive theoretical physics work, mostly centered around neutrinos. This Italian born prodigy seemed to care more about solid work than accolades and publishing, much to the dismay of Enrico Fermi, whom Ettore worked under during his days as part of Via Panisperna. The much depressed and self-isolated physicist boarded a boat headed to Naples from Palermo on the 27th of March 1938. Ettore took with him all of the cash he had ($70,000 according to Joao Magueijo) and some personal papers. Ettore was never seen again. The are numerous rumors and theories as to what could have happened to Ettore (see Joao’s book), but no trace of him, his work, money, or body has ever been found. Ettore was 31.
Galileo Galilei: Painting of the Vatican’s Inquisition trial of Galileo, called for by pope Urban VIII, for suggesting the motion of the Earth. Evidence: Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. The Inquisition found Galileo “vehemently suspect of heresy.” He was forced to recant his opinions and ordered under house arrest for the remainder of his life. Galileo died on the 8th of January 1642. He was 77.
DeathMath : Mathcore!! Knut - Ultralight Backpacking
Yutaka Taniyama: Yutaka was a Japanese number theorist who contributed to the modularity theorem, which is a conjecture for elliptic curves over rationals. The modularity theorem was crucial to André Weil’s discovery of the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem. Yutaka suffered from depression and shortly before his marriage to Misako Suzuki committed suicide. Misako followed Yutaka and committed suicide a month later.
Yutaka was 31.
Niels Henrik Abel: An extremely remarkable young 19th Century mathematician; check this: “Abel gave a proof of the binomial theorem valid for all numbers, extending Euler’s result which had held only for rationals. At age 19, he showed there is no general algebraic solution for the roots of a quintic equation, or any general polynomial equation of degree greater than four, in terms of explicit algebraic operations. To do this, he invented an extremely important branch of mathematics known as group theory, which is invaluable not only in many areas of mathematics, but for much of physics as well. Among his other accomplishments, Abel wrote a monumental work on elliptic functions which, however, was not discovered until after his death.” source
Like many mathematicians before him, Niels went ahead and contracted tuberculosis. Niels died 6 April (brother fisherdah’s bday) 1829. He was 26.
Jon Hal Folkman: Jon’s main area of contribution was in Combinatorics including the Folkman–Lawrence topological representation. In the late 1960s, Jon was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had subsequent successful surgery. However, after the surgery, Jon believed that his mathematical abilities had been adversely affected. Colleague Paul Erdős visited Jon and, as Erdős was oft to do, offered mathematical problems for Jon to work on. By all indications Jon’s mathematical abilities had not be affected. Jon was not convinced, however. Shortly after returning home from the hospital, Jon purchased and gun and shot himself. He was 31.
Some of Folkman’s work and his ph.D dissertation can be found here:
Frank Ramsey: “Although Ramsey was a lecturer in mathematics, he produced work in a remarkable range of topics over a short period. As well as starting up the new area of mathematics now called ‘Ramsey theory’, which we say more about below, he wrote on the foundations of mathematics, economics and philosophy.
He published his first major work The Foundations of Mathematics in 1925. In this work he accepted the claim by Russell and Whitehead made in the Principia Mathematica that mathematics is a part of logic. Ramsey’s aim in this paper, however, was to improve on the Principia Mathematica…”
Ramsey, after a operation for a bum liver, died. He was 26.
Christine Mary Hamill: “An English mathematician who specialized in group theory and finite geometry. After receiving her Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in 1951, she was appointed to a lectureship in the University of Sheffield and later was appointed lecturer in the University College, Ibadan, Nigeria” where she died on 24 March 1956 of a sudden illness. Hamill was 33 years old.
If anyone can find an image, I would appreciate it.
André Bloch: Called “Bloch’s Theorem”, Bloch discovered in complex analysis a lower bound on the size of a disc in which an inverse to a holomorphic function exists. While on leave from the French army in November 1917, André killed his brother, uncle, and aunt because, citing one source, Bloch believed “that the murders were a eugenic act [that would] eliminate branches of his family affected by mental illness.” André was committed to the psychiatric asylum at Charenton in Saint Maurice where he stayed until his death 28 August 1948. Bloch was 55.
Russian Circles - Carpe (by Hivmannen2000): Deathmath reprieve.
Some new(ish) Math Rock(ish) band that brother Jon (fisherdah) demanded I give my attention to.
Paul Ehrenfest: Theoretical Physicist, Paul was colleagues with such physicists as Bohn, Kronig, Fermi, Oppenheimer, Heisenberg, and Einstein - with whom he was good friends. Paul suffered from depression and, on 25 September 1933 in Amsterdam, he visited his son Wassik who had downs syndrome. Paul shot Wassik in the head and then shot himself.
Sofia Kovalevskaya: Britannica says that Sofia was “the first major Russian female mathematician, responsible for important original contributions to analysis, differential equations and mechanics, and the first woman appointed to a full professorship in Northern Europe. She was also one of the first women to work for a scientific journal as an editor.” Some also claim that Sofia was a nihilist. Not sure I am willing to define her as such, you can read more if you’d like.
Sofia died in Stockholm of influenza in 1891. She was 41.
William Kingdon Clifford: Let’s say that Will discovered (and coined the term) geometric algebra. This brilliant and overworked mathematician succumbed to exhaustion shortly after his wedding. After convalescing, Will returned to work 6 months later. He died of tuberculous (there could be a blog dedicated to tb and math) in March of 1879. He was 33.