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Wednesday, 31 October 2012, 4:30PM
Barnard's Inn Hall

Peter Guthrie Tait: A Knot's Tale

Dr Julia Collins

Peter Guthrie Tait (1831 - 1901) was significantly less famous than his friends Maxwell and Kelvin, but unfairly so because he was an important and prolific mathematical physicist. He was Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh from 1859, narrowly beating Maxwell to the post, and worked on a variety of topics including thermodynamics and the kinetic theory of gases. In a fantastic experiment involving smoke rings, Tait and Kelvin came up with a new atomic theory based around the idea of knots and links. This took on a mathematical life on its own, with Tait becoming one of the world's first topologists and inventing conjectures which remained unproven for over a hundred years.

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University of Edinburgh

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31 October 2012

Peter Guthrie Tait: A Knot's Tale
Dr Julia Collins

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