Mary Somerville Biography

Mary Somerville

Scotland's renowned scientist Mary Somerville is known for her contributions to mathematics, astronomy, science, and geography. Today's doodles honor the ground heritage of Scottish scientist Mary Somerville. On this day in 1826, one of Somerville's papers of experimental physics, the National Academy of Sciences of Britain, was read by the Royal Society of London.

It became the first paper to be published by a woman author in the prestigious philosophical transaction, the world's oldest science publication, which is still active today.

Mary Somerville Biography

Mary Somerville was born on 26 December 1780 in Jedburgh, Scotland, to a distinguished family, whose parents were William George Fairfax and Margaret Charts Fairfax, Mary Somerville's education was nothing special in the early days as she was a household chore. Used to support her mother.

At the age of 10, his father returned from abroad and decided to send him to a boarding school for proper education. Through his art teacher at the boarding school, he was able to learn how the basics of painting can be found in Euclid's Elements of Geometry.

After this, Mary Somerville put her mind into teaching astronomy and mathematics, after that she kept learning and did a lot of research as well, after which she started publishing scientific papers and books.

In 1831, Somerville's The Mechanism of the Heavens revolutionized the current understanding of the solar system. This much-awaited essay laid the foundation for his breakthrough book, The Connection of the Physical Sciences (1834), which became one of the best-selling science books of the 19th century. In 1836 its third edition provided the necessary clue for the discovery of Neptune to astronomer John Couch Adams.

Marriage and Study

In 1804 she met her first husband, her distant cousin, Lieutenant Samuel Gregg, son of Admiral Samuel Gregg when she came to pay a visit. He was the commissioner of the Russian Navy and the Russian consul for Britain. He married and had two children, one of whom, Varonzo Greig, was a barrister and scientist. They lived in London,

But it was not a happy time for Somerville. Although she could study, her husband did not think much of the ability of women to pursue academic interests. In fact, Greg was "completely prejudiced against educated women who were common at the time." Somerville took lessons in French. When her husband died in 1807 while she was still caring for her youngest child, she returned home to Scotland.

Back in Scotland, he resumed his mathematical studies. By that time he had studied plane and spherical trigonometry, cone sections, and James Ferguson's astronomy. Now he first read Isaac Newton's Principia, which he continued to read.

His legacy from Greig gave him the freedom to pursue intellectual interests. John Playfair, professor of natural philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, encouraged his studies, and through him, he began a correspondence with William Wallace, with whom he discussed mathematical problems.

Started solving mathematical problems published in the Mathematical Journal of Military College in Marlow and he eventually made a name for himself, solving a Diophantine problem, for which he was awarded the Silver Medal in 1811. Solutions published in volumes 3 and 4 of the mathematical repository under the Somerville pseudonym 'A Lady'; Two of these solutions demonstrated his early adoption of differential calculus, and therefore his contribution to the spread and visibility of this mathematics in early nineteenth-century Britain.

Wallace suggested that he should study the writings of the French mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace, who summarized the theory of gravity and published mathematical results that had been established in 50 years since the Principia had been published.

Mary Somerville extended her studies in astronomy, chemistry, geography, microscopy, electricity, and magnetism. At the age of 33, he bought for himself a library of scientific books, including Elements of the Mechanics of Louis Benjamin Frankver, Sylvestre François Lacroix 'Algebra and Calculus, Analytical Geometry and Astronomy of Jean Baptiste Biot, by Simon Dennis Poisson Treatise on Mechanics, Joseph Lewis Lagrange's Principles of Analytical Work, Leonhard Euler's Elements of Algebra and Isoperimetrical Problems, Alexis Clarout's Earth Figure, Gaspard Monge's Application of Analytic Geometry, and François Collette's Logarithms.

In his personal memoirs, Somerville expressed the opinion that mathematical science was little in Britain at the time, as reverence for Newton prevented local scientists from adopting stones, while astronomical and mechanical sciences outside Britain were at high levels of perfection Had reached. In his opinion, the deadlock was broken only when Charles Babbage, John Herschel, and George Peake published a translation from the French of Lacrosse's lectures in 1816, the cutting-edge calculus textbook of the time.

While living with his family in Scotland, Somerville became acquainted with several major intellectual lights, such as Henry Brogham. He also served as Inspector of the Army Medical Board, Drs. Married William Somerville (1818), who encouraged her in the study of physics. Her husband was elected to the Royal Society and together they moved into the dominant social circle of the day. She was known to scientists as well as leading writers and artists, for example, JMW Turner.

Her husband's family was a neighbor of the writer Walter Scott. He wrote, "I will not forget the allure of this small society, particularly the supporting parties of Abbotsford, when Scott was in the highest euphoria, telling amusing tales, ancient legends, tales of ghosts and witches." Somerville had four children in his second marriage.

In 1819, her husband was appointed a physician at Chelsea Hospital and the family moved to a government house in Chelsea in Hanover Square. Somerville was a friend of Anne Isabella Milbank, Baroness Wentworth, and a math tutor for her daughter, Ada Lovelace. Along with Somerville, Ada attended scientific ceremonies where she met Charles Babbage. Somerville owns a letter from College Babbage to Somerville, inviting him to look at its 'calculation engine'.

Mary Somerville frequently visited Babbage when he was "building his calculating machine". Somerville and Lovelace maintained a close friendship and when Lovelace faced difficulties with mathematical calculations, he would walk to Somerville's home and discuss a cup of tea.

Somerville's youngest daughter died in 1823 after an illness. While in Chelsea, Somerville traveled several times throughout Europe, leaving her children with her German rule. Among his traveling companions were jurist and politician Sir James Mackintosh. Before leaving London, Somerville got in touch with people he wanted to meet, and on his European tours, he met a number of well-known intellectuals. Somerville also received frequent visitors; When Mary Edgeworth visited him in England.

Science practice and writing / Science practice and writing
Marie Somerville conducted experiments to explore the relationship between light and magnetism, and in 1826 published the first paper, "Magnetic Properties of Violet Rays of the Solar Spectrum", in Proceedings of the Royal Society. Sir David Buster, the inventor's kaleidoscope, wrote in 1829 that Mary Somerville was "certainly the most extraordinary woman in Europe - a mathematician of the first rank with all the gentleness of a woman".

Mary Somerville was also an honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1833 and in addition she was also a member of Oxford University, Royal Geographical Society, American Philosophical Society.

In 1869, he was awarded a gold medal by the Royal Geographical Society.


Mary Somerville died at the age of 91 in Naples Italy on 29 November 1872, was buried in the English cemetery, the following year her autobiographical personal memories were published, including those written during her old age.

More than 10,000 pieces are in the Somerville Collection of the Bodleian Library and Summerville College, Oxford. The collection includes papers related to his writings and published works, and correspondence with family members, numerous scientists and authors, and other figures in public life.

Somerville Square in Burntisland is named after his family and marks the site of his home. Summerville College, Oxford, was named after Somerville, as was Somerville House, Burntisland, where it was at one time and Somerville House, a high school for girls in Brisbane, Australia.

One of the committee rooms of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh is named after him. Somerville Island (74 ° 44′N 96 ° 10) W), a small island in Barrow Strait, Nunavut, was named after him by Sir William Edward Parry in 1819. The Somerville Club was founded in London in 1878, by 1887 it was reestablished as the New Somerville Club and disappeared by 1908.

The Somerville Crater 5771 Somerville (1987 ST1) is a main-belt asteroid that was discovered and named by E. Bowell on 21 September 1987 in Lowell Observatory Flagstaff, Arizona. The Somerville Crater is a small lunar crater in the eastern part of the Moon. This major crater lies to the east of Langres. It is one of a handful of criminals named after women.

Somerville appears as a character in the 2014 film Mr. Turner, where he is portrayed by Leslie Manville.

She was shortlisted in February 2016 in a public competition run by the Royal Bank of Scotland, along with Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell and civil engineer Thomas Telford, whose decision should appear on the bank's new £ 10 note to be released in 2017. Later the same month, RBS announced that it had won the public vote held on Facebook. Banknotes, affecting her image, were released in the second half of 2017.

In 2016, the Institute of Physical Sciences celebrated Somerville's innovative thinking, which paved the way for a growing number of women in STEM fields, launching the Merrie Somerville medal and award for scientists connecting the public for their work.