HOME

TheInfoList




Sir George Gabriel Stokes, 1st Baronet, (; 13 August 1819 – 1 February 1903) was an Irish English
physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific research to advance knowledge in an Branches of science, area of interest. In classical antiquity, there was no real ancient analog of a modern sci ...

physicist
and
mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained ( ...
. Born in
County Sligo County Sligo ( , gle, Contae Shligigh) is a in . It is located in the and is part of the of . is the administrative capital and largest town in the county. is the for the county. The population of the county was 65,535 at the 2016 census. ...
, Ireland, Stokes spent all of his career at the
University of Cambridge , mottoeng = Literal: From here, light and sacred draughts. Non literal: From this place, we gain enlightenment and precious knowledge. , established = , other_name = The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of ...
, where he was the
Lucasian Professor of Mathematics The Lucasian Chair of Mathematics () is a mathematics professorship in the University of Cambridge, England; its holder is known as the Lucasian Professor. The post was founded in 1663 by Henry Lucas (politician), Henry Lucas, who was Cambridge Uni ...
from 1849 until his death in 1903. As a physicist, Stokes made seminal contributions to
fluid mechanics Fluid mechanics is the branch of physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in o ...
, including the
Navier–Stokes equations In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. ...
and to
physical optics In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "P ...
, with notable works on
polarization Polarization or polarisation may refer to: In the physical sciences *Polarization (waves), the ability of waves to oscillate in more than one direction, in particular polarization of light, responsible for example for the glare-reducing effect of ...
and
fluorescence Fluorescence is the emission of light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visual perception, perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defined as ha ...

fluorescence
. As a mathematician, he popularised "
Stokes' theorem Stokes' theorem, also known as Kelvin–Stokes theorem Nagayoshi Iwahori, et al.:"Bi-Bun-Seki-Bun-Gaku" :ja:裳華房, Sho-Ka-Bou(jp) 1983/12Written in Japanese)Atsuo Fujimoto;"Vector-Kai-Seki Gendai su-gaku rekucha zu. C(1)" :ja:培風館, Ba ...
" in
vector calculus Vector calculus, or vector analysis, is concerned with differentiation Differentiation may refer to: Business * Differentiation (economics), the process of making a product different from other similar products * Product differentiation, in ...
and contributed to the theory of
asymptotic expansionIn mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ha ...
s. Stokes, along with
Felix Hoppe-Seyler Ernst Felix Immanuel Hoppe-Seyler (''né'' Felix Hoppe; 26 December 1825 – 10 August 1895) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ...

Felix Hoppe-Seyler
, first demonstrated the oxygen transport function of hemoglobin and showed color changes produced by aeration of hemoglobin solutions. Stokes was made a
baronet A baronet ( or ; abbreviated Bart or Bt) or the rare female equivalent, a baronetess (, , or ; abbreviation Btss), is the holder of a baronetcy, a hereditary title awarded by the British Crown The Crown is the in all its aspects within ...

baronet
(hereditary knight) by the British monarch in 1889. In 1893 he received the
Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exis ...
's
Copley Medal The Copley Medal is an award given by the Royal Society, for "outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science". It alternates between the physical sciences or mathematics and the biological sciences. Given every year, the medal is t ...
, then the most prestigious scientific prize in the world, "for his researches and discoveries in physical science". He represented Cambridge University in the
British House of Commons The House of Commons (domestically known as the Commons) is the lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizon ...

British House of Commons
from 1887 to 1892, sitting as a
Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aest ...

Conservative
. Stokes also served as president of the Royal Society from 1885 to 1890 and was briefly the
Master Master or masters may refer to: Ranks or titles *Ascended master Ascended masters in the Ascended Master Teachings of a number of movements in the theosophical tradition are believed to be spiritually enlightened beings who in past incarn ...
of
Pembroke College, Cambridge Pembroke College (officially "The Master, Fellows and Scholars of the College or Hall of Valence-Mary") is a Colleges of the University of Cambridge, constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. The college is the third-oldest col ...

Pembroke College, Cambridge
.


Biography

George Stokes was the youngest son of the Reverend Gabriel Stokes (died 1834), a clergyman in the
Church of Ireland The Church of Ireland ( ga, Eaglais na hÉireann, ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ul ...
who served as
rector Rector (Latin for the member of a vessel's crew who steers) may refer to: Style or title *Rector (ecclesiastical), a cleric who functions as an administrative leader in some Christian denominations *Rector (academia), a senior official in an educ ...
of
Skreen Skreen () is a small village and parish in County Sligo, Republic of Ireland, Ireland. History St Adomnán, the first biographer of St Columba (Colmcille) and one of his successors at Iona, first served as abbot at Skreen Abbey, which allegedl ...
, in
County Sligo County Sligo ( , gle, Contae Shligigh) is a in . It is located in the and is part of the of . is the administrative capital and largest town in the county. is the for the county. The population of the county was 65,535 at the 2016 census. ...
and his wife Elizabeth Haughton, daughter of the Reverend John Haughton. Stokes home life was strongly influenced by his father's
evangelical Evangelicalism (), also called evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century ...
Protestantism: three of his brothers entered the Church, of whom the most eminent was John Whitley Stokes, Archdeacon of Armagh. John and George were always close, and George lived with John while attending school in Dublin. Of all his family he was closest to his sister Elizabeth. Their mother was remembered in the family as "beautiful but very stern". After attending schools in Skreen,
Dublin Dublin (; , or ) is the capital and largest city of Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain_ ...

Dublin
, and
Bristol Bristol () is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routle ...

Bristol
, in 1837 Stokes matriculated at
Pembroke College, Cambridge Pembroke College (officially "The Master, Fellows and Scholars of the College or Hall of Valence-Mary") is a Colleges of the University of Cambridge, constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. The college is the third-oldest col ...

Pembroke College, Cambridge
. Four years later he graduated as
senior wrangler 300px, 2013 in the same room: the examiner announces the results of the same examinations. In keeping with recent tradition, he raises his academic cap to identify the Senior Wrangler (here Arran Fernandez); at the end he follows the older tradit ...
and first
Smith's prize The Smith's Prize was the name of each of two prizes awarded annually to two research students in mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and s ...
man, achievements that earned him election of a fellow of the college. In accordance with the college statutes, Stokes had to resign the fellowship when he married in 1857. Twelve years later, under new statutes, he was re-elected to the fellowship and he retained that place until 1902, when on the day before his 83rd birthday, he was elected as the college's Master. Stokes did not hold that position for long, for he died at Cambridge on 1 February the following year, and was buried in the Mill Road cemetery. There is also a memorial to him in the north aisle at
Westminster Abbey Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes ...

Westminster Abbey
.


Career

In 1849, Stokes was appointed to the
Lucasian professor The Lucasian Chair of Mathematics () is a mathematics professorship in the University of Cambridge, England; its holder is known as the Lucasian Professor. The post was founded in 1663 by Henry Lucas, who was Cambridge University's Member of Par ...
ship of mathematics at Cambridge, a position he held until his death in 1903. On 1 June 1899, the jubilee of this appointment was celebrated there in a ceremony, which was attended by numerous delegates from European and American universities. A commemorative gold medal was presented to Stokes by the chancellor of the university and marble busts of Stokes by
Hamo Thornycroft Sir William Hamo Thornycroft (9 March 185018 December 1925) was an English sculptor, responsible for some of London's best-known statues, including the statue of Oliver Cromwell outside the Palace of Westminster. He was a keen student of classi ...

Hamo Thornycroft
were formally offered to Pembroke College and to the university by
Lord Kelvin William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, (26 June 182417 December 1907) was a British mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics ...
. Stokes, who was made a baronet in 1889, further served his university by representing it in parliament from 1887 to 1892 as one of the two members for the Cambridge University constituency. During a portion of this period (1885–1890) he also was president of the
Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exis ...
, of which he had been one of the secretaries since 1854. Since he was also Lucasian Professor at this time, Stokes was the first person to hold all three positions simultaneously; Newton held the same three, although not at the same time. Stokes was the oldest of the trio of natural philosophers,
James Clerk Maxwell James Clerk Maxwell (13 June 1831 – 5 November 1879) was a Scottish mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as num ...

James Clerk Maxwell
and
Lord Kelvin William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, (26 June 182417 December 1907) was a British mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics ...
being the other two, who especially contributed to the fame of the Cambridge school of mathematical physics in the middle of the 19th century. Stokes's original work began about 1840, and from that date onwards the great extent of his output was less remarkable only than the brilliance of its quality. The Royal Society's catalogue of scientific papers gives the titles of over a hundred memoirs by him published down to 1883. Some of these are only brief notes, others are short controversial or corrective statements, but many are long and elaborate treatises.


Contributions to science

In scope, his work covered a wide range of physical inquiry but, as
Marie Alfred Cornu Marie Alfred Cornu (; 6 March 1841 – 12 April 1902) was a French physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific research to advance knowledge in an Branches of science, area of inte ...
remarked in his
Rede LectureThe Sir Robert Rede's Lecturer is an annual appointment to give a public lecture, the Sir Robert Rede's Lecture (usually Rede Lecture) at the University of Cambridge. It is named for Sir Robert Rede, who was Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in the ...
of 1899, the greater part of it was concerned with waves and the transformations imposed on them during their passage through various media.


Fluid dynamics

His first published papers, which appeared in 1842 and 1843, were on the steady motion of incompressible
fluid In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular s ...
s and some cases of fluid motion. These were followed in 1845 by one on the friction of fluids in motion and the equilibrium and motion of elastic solids, and in 1850 by another on the effects of the internal friction of fluids on the motion of
pendulum A pendulum is a weight suspended from a pivot Pivot may refer to: *Pivot, the point of rotation in a lever A lever ( or ) is a simple machine consisting of a beam or rigid rod pivoted at a fixed hinge, or '':wikt:fulcrum, fulcrum''. A lever ...

pendulum
s. To the theory of sound he made several contributions, including a discussion of the effect of wind on the intensity of sound and an explanation of how the intensity is influenced by the nature of the gas in which the sound is produced. These inquiries together put the science of
fluid dynamics In physics and engineering, fluid dynamics is a subdiscipline of fluid mechanics that describes the flow of fluids—liquids and gases. It has several subdisciplines, including ''aerodynamics'' (the study of air and other gases in motion) and ...
on a new footing, and provided a key not only to the explanation of many natural phenomena, such as the suspension of clouds in air, and the subsidence of ripples and waves in water, but also to the solution of practical problems, such as the flow of water in rivers and channels, and the skin resistance of ships.


Creeping flow

His work on fluid motion and
viscosity The viscosity of a fluid In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, ...

viscosity
led to his calculating the terminal velocity for a sphere falling in a viscous medium. This became known as
Stokes' law In 1851, George Gabriel Stokes Sir George Gabriel Stokes, 1st Baronet, (; 13 August 1819 – 1 February 1903) was an Anglo-Irish physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific r ...
. He derived an expression for the frictional force (also called
drag force In fluid dynamics, drag (sometimes called air resistance, a type of friction, or fluid resistance, another type of friction or fluid friction) is a force In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (e ...
) exerted on spherical objects with very small
Reynolds number The Reynolds number () helps predict flow patterns in different fluid flow situations. At low Reynolds numbers, flows tend to be dominated by laminar (sheet-like) flow, while at high Reynolds numbers flows tend to be turbulent In fluid dynam ...
s. His work is the basis of the falling sphere
viscometer A viscometer (also called viscosimeter) is an instrument used to measure the viscosity of a fluid. For liquids with viscosities which vary with flow conditioning, flow conditions, an instrument called a rheometer is used. Thus, a rheometer can be co ...
, in which the fluid is stationary in a vertical glass tube. A sphere of known size and density is allowed to descend through the liquid. If correctly selected, it reaches
terminal velocity Terminal velocity is the maximum velocity (speed) attainable by an object as it falls through a fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformation (mechanics), deforms (flows) under an applied shear stress, or external fo ...

terminal velocity
, which can be measured by the time it takes to pass two marks on the tube. Electronic sensing can be used for opaque fluids. Knowing the terminal velocity, the size and density of the sphere, and the density of the liquid, Stokes's law can be used to calculate the viscosity of the fluid. A series of steel
ball bearing A ball bearing is a type of rolling-element bearing A rolling-element bearing, also known as a rolling bearing, is a bearing Bearing may refer to: * Bearing (angle), a term for direction * Bearing (mechanical), a component that separates mov ...

ball bearing
s of different diameter is normally used in the classic experiment to improve the accuracy of the calculation. The school experiment uses
glycerine Glycerol (; also called glycerine in British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codifi ...

glycerine
as the fluid, and the technique is used industrially to check the viscosity of fluids used in processes. The same theory explains why small water droplets (or ice crystals) can remain suspended in air (as clouds) until they grow to a critical size and start falling as rain (or snow and
hail Hail is a form of solid precipitation In meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the (which include and ), with a major focus on . The study of meteorology dates back , though significant progress in meteorology did not begin until ...

hail
). Similar use of the equation can be made in the settlement of fine particles in water or other fluids. The
CGS
CGS
unit of
kinematic viscosity The viscosity of a fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformation (mechanics), deforms (flows) under an applied shear stress, or external force. Fluids are a Phase (matter), phase of matter and include liquids, Gas, ...
was named " stokes" in recognition of his work.


Light

Perhaps his best-known researches are those which deal with the wave theory of light. His
optical Optics is the branch of physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entitie ...

optical
work began at an early period in his scientific career. His first papers on the
aberration of light In astronomy Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and celestial event, phenomena. It uses mat ...

aberration of light
appeared in 1845 and 1846, and were followed in 1848 by one on the theory of certain bands seen in the
spectrum A spectrum (plural ''spectra'' or ''spectrums'') is a condition that is not limited to a specific set of values but can vary, without gaps, across a continuum Continuum may refer to: * Continuum (measurement) Continuum theories or models expla ...

spectrum
. In 1849 he published a long paper on the dynamical theory of
diffraction Diffraction refers to various phenomena that occur when a wave In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which r ...

diffraction
, in which he showed that the plane of polarisation must be perpendicular to the direction of propagation. Two years later he discussed the colours of thick plates. Stokes also investigated
George Airy Sir George Biddell Airy (; 27 July 18012 January 1892) was an English mathematician and astronomer, and the seventh Astronomer Royal from 1835 to 1881. His many achievements include work on planetary orbits, measuring the mean density of the Ea ...

George Airy
's mathematical description of
rainbow A rainbow is a meteorological Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences which includes atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric physics, with a major focus on weather forecasting Weather forecasting is the application of sc ...

rainbow
s. Airy's findings involved an integral that was awkward to evaluate. Stokes expressed the integral as a
divergent series In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...
, which were little understood. However, by cleverly truncating the series (i.e., ignoring all except the first few terms of the series), Stokes obtained an accurate approximation to the integral that was far easier to evaluate than the integral itself. Stokes's research on asymptotic series led to fundamental insights about such series.


Fluorescence

In 1852, in his famous paper on the change of
wavelength In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular su ...

wavelength
of light, he described the phenomenon of
fluorescence Fluorescence is the emission of light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that is visual perception, perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defined as ha ...

fluorescence
, as exhibited by
fluorspar Fluorite (also called fluorspar) is the mineral form of calcium fluoride, CaF2. It belongs to the halide minerals. It crystallizes in cubic crystal system, isometric crystal habit, cubic habit, although octahedral and more complex isometric forms ...

fluorspar
and
uranium glass Uranium glass is glass Glass is a non- crystalline, often transparency and translucency, transparent amorphous solid, that has widespread practical, technological, and decorative use in, for example, window panes, tableware, and optics. Gla ...

uranium glass
, materials which he viewed as having the power to convert invisible
ultra-violet radiation Ultraviolet (UV) is a form of electromagnetic radiation with wavelength from 10 nanometer, nm (with a corresponding frequency around 30 PHz) to 400 nm (750 THz), shorter than that of visible light, but longer than X-rays. UV radiation is p ...
into radiation of longer wavelengths that are visible. The
Stokes shift __NOTOC__ Stokes shift is the difference (in energy In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies m ...

Stokes shift
, which describes this conversion, is named in Stokes's honour. A mechanical model, illustrating the dynamical principle of Stokes's explanation was shown. The offshoot of this,
Stokes line __NOTOC__ Stokes shift is the difference (in energy, wavenumber or frequency units) between positions of the band maxima of the absorption (optics), absorption and Emission (electromagnetic radiation), emission electromagnetic spectrum, spectra (fl ...
, is the basis of
Raman scattering#REDIRECT Raman scattering Raman scattering or the Raman effect () is the inelastic scattering of photon The photon (Greek: φῶς, phōs, light) is a type of elementary particle. It is the quantum of the electromagnetic field including ele ...

Raman scattering
. In 1883, during a lecture at the
Royal Institution The Royal Institution of Great Britain (often the Royal Institution, abbreviated 'Ri' or 'RI') is an organisation for scientific education and research, based in the City of Westminster The City of Westminster is a City status in the Unite ...

Royal Institution
, Lord Kelvin said he had heard an account of it from Stokes many years before, and had repeatedly but vainly begged him to publish it.


Polarization

In the same year, 1852, there appeared the paper on the composition and resolution of streams of polarised light from different sources, and in 1853 an investigation of the metallic
reflectionReflection or reflexion may refer to: Philosophy * Self-reflection Science * Reflection (physics), a common wave phenomenon ** Specular reflection, reflection from a smooth surface *** Mirror image, a reflection in a mirror or in water ** Signal r ...
exhibited by certain non-metallic substances. The research was to highlight the phenomenon of
light polarisation Polarization ( also polarisation) is a property applying to transverse waves that specifies the geometrical orientation of the oscillation Oscillation is the repetitive variation, typically in time, of some measure about a central value (ofte ...
. About 1860 he was engaged in an inquiry on the intensity of light reflected from, or transmitted through, a pile of plates; and in 1862 he prepared for the
British Association The British Science Association (BSA) is a Charitable organization, charity and learned society founded in 1831 to aid in the promotion and development of science. Until 2009 it was known as the British Association for the Advancement of Scienc ...
a valuable report on
double refraction Birefringence is the optical Optics is the branch of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, ...

double refraction
, a phenomenon where certain crystals show different refractive indices along different axes. Perhaps the best known crystal is
Iceland spar Iceland spar, formerly known as Iceland crystal ( is, silfurberg; lit. ''silver-rock''), is a transparent variety of calcite, or crystallized calcium carbonate, originally brought from Iceland, and used in demonstrating the polarization of light (se ...

Iceland spar
, transparent
calcite Calcite is a carbonate mineral Carbonate minerals are those mineral In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid E ...

calcite
crystals. A paper on the long spectrum of the electric light bears the same date, and was followed by an inquiry into the
absorption spectrum Absorption may refer to: Chemistry and biology *Absorption (chemistry) In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms, molecules and ions: th ...
of blood.


Chemical analysis

The chemical identification of
organic Organic may refer to: * Organic, of or relating to an organism, a living entity * Organic, of or relating to an anatomical organ (anatomy), organ Chemistry * Organic matter, matter that has come from a once-living organism, is capable of decay or ...
bodies by their optical properties was treated in 1864; and later, in conjunction with the Rev. William Vernon Harcourt, he investigated the relation between the chemical composition and the optical properties of various glasses, with reference to the conditions of
transparency Transparency, transparence or transparent most often refer to transparency and translucency, the physical property of allowing the transmission of light through a material. They may also refer to: Literal uses * Transparency (photography), a sti ...
and the improvement of
achromatic
achromatic
telescope A telescope is an optical instrument An optical instrument (or "optic" for short) is a device that processes light waves (or photons), either to enhance an image for viewing or to analyze and determine their characteristic properties. Common ...

telescope
s. A still later paper connected with the construction of optical instruments discussed the theoretical limits to the aperture of microscope objectives.


Other work

In other departments of physics may be mentioned his paper on the
conduction of heat
conduction of heat
in
crystal A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter (the others being liquid A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformatio ...

crystal
s (1851) and his inquiries in connection with
Crookes radiometer Image:Crookes radiometer.jpg, thumbnail, Crookes radiometer The Crookes radiometer (also known as a light mill) consists of an airtight glass bulb containing a partial vacuum, with a set of vanes which are mounted on a spindle inside. The vanes rot ...

Crookes radiometer
; his explanation of the light border frequently noticed in photographs just outside the outline of a dark body seen against the sky (1882); and, still later, his theory of the
x-ray An X-ray, or, much less commonly, X-radiation, is a penetrating form of high-energy electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Moti ...

x-ray
s, which he suggested might be transverse waves travelling as innumerable solitary waves, not in regular trains. Two long papers published in 1849 – one on attractions and
Clairaut's theorem Clairaut's theorem characterizes the surface gravity on a viscous rotating ellipsoid in equilibrium under the action of its gravitational field and centrifugal force. It was published in 1743 by Alexis Claude Clairaut in a treatise''Théorie ...
, and the other on the variation of
gravity Gravity (), or gravitation, is a by which all things with or —including s, s, , and even —are attracted to (or ''gravitate'' toward) one another. , gravity gives to s, and the causes the s of the oceans. The gravitational attracti ...

gravity
at the surface of the earth (1849) – Stokes' gravity formula—also demand notice, as do his mathematical memoirs on the critical values of sums of periodic series (1847) and on the numerical calculation of a class of definite
integral In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities a ...

integral
s and
infinite series In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). I ...
(1850) and his discussion of a
differential equation In mathematics, a differential equation is an equation In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained ( ...

differential equation
relating to the breaking of railway bridges (1849), research related to his evidence given to the ''Royal Commission on the Use of Iron in Railway structures'' after the
Dee Bridge disaster The Dee Bridge disaster was a rail accident that occurred on 24 May 1847 in Chester, England, that resulted in five fatalities. It revealed the weakness of cast iron beam bridges reinforced by wrought iron tie bars, and brought criticism of its ...

Dee Bridge disaster
of 1847.


Unpublished research

Many of Stokes' discoveries were not published, or were only touched upon in the course of his oral lectures. One such example is his work in the theory of
spectroscopy Spectroscopy is the study of the interaction Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea of a two-way effect is essential in the concept of interaction, as opposed to a one-way ...

spectroscopy
. In his presidential address to the
British Association The British Science Association (BSA) is a Charitable organization, charity and learned society founded in 1831 to aid in the promotion and development of science. Until 2009 it was known as the British Association for the Advancement of Scienc ...
in 1871,
Lord Kelvin William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, (26 June 182417 December 1907) was a British mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics ...

Lord Kelvin
stated his belief that the application of the prismatic analysis of light to solar and stellar chemistry had never been suggested directly or indirectly by anyone else when Stokes taught it to him at Cambridge University some time prior to the summer of 1852, and he set forth the conclusions, theoretical and practical, which he learnt from Stokes at that time, and which he afterwards gave regularly in his public lectures at
Glasgow Glasgow ( ; sco, Glesga; gd, Glaschu) is the most populous city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia'' ...

Glasgow
. These statements, containing as they do the physical basis on which spectroscopy rests, and the way in which it is applicable to the identification of substances existing in the sun and stars, make it appear that Stokes anticipated Kirchhoff by at least seven or eight years. Stokes, however, in a letter published some years after the delivery of this address, stated that he had failed to take one essential step in the argument—not perceiving that emission of light of definite wavelength not merely permitted, but necessitated, absorption of light of the same wavelength. He modestly disclaimed "any part of Kirchhoff's admirable discovery," adding that he felt some of his friends had been over-zealous in his cause. It must be said, however, that English men of science have not accepted this disclaimer in all its fullness, and still attribute to Stokes the credit of having first enunciated the fundamental principles of
spectroscopy Spectroscopy is the study of the interaction Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea of a two-way effect is essential in the concept of interaction, as opposed to a one-way ...

spectroscopy
. In another way, too, Stokes did much for the progress of mathematical physics. Soon after he was elected to the Lucasian chair he announced that he regarded it as part of his professional duties to help any member of the university in difficulties he might encounter in his mathematical studies, and the assistance rendered was so real that pupils were glad to consult him, even after they had become colleagues, on mathematical and physical problems in which they found themselves at a loss. Then during the thirty years he acted as secretary of the Royal Society he exercised an enormous if inconspicuous influence on the advancement of mathematical and physical science, not only directly by his own investigations, but indirectly by suggesting problems for inquiry and inciting men to attack them, and by his readiness to give encouragement and help.


Contributions to engineering

Stokes was involved in several investigations into railway accidents, especially the
Dee Bridge disaster The Dee Bridge disaster was a rail accident that occurred on 24 May 1847 in Chester, England, that resulted in five fatalities. It revealed the weakness of cast iron beam bridges reinforced by wrought iron tie bars, and brought criticism of its ...

Dee Bridge disaster
in May 1847, and he served as a member of the subsequent Royal Commission into the use of cast iron in railway structures. He contributed to the calculation of the forces exerted by moving engines on bridges. The bridge failed because a cast iron beam was used to support the loads of passing trains.
Cast iron Cast iron is a group of iron-carbon alloys with a carbon content more than 2%. Its usefulness derives from its relatively low melting temperature. The alloy constituents affect its colour when fractured: white cast iron has carbide impuritie ...
is
brittle A material is brittle if, when subjected to stress, it fracture Fracture is the separation of an object or material into two or more pieces under the action of stress. The fracture of a solid usually occurs due to the development of cer ...
in
tension Tension may refer to: Science * Psychological stress * Tension (physics), a force related to the stretching of an object (the opposite of compression) * Tension (geology), a stress which stretches rocks in two opposite directions * Voltage or elect ...
or
bending In applied mechanics Applied mechanics is a branch of the physical science Physical science is a branch of natural science that studies abiotic component, non-living systems, in contrast to life science. It in turn has many branches, each re ...

bending
, and many other similar bridges had to be demolished or reinforced. He appeared as an expert witness at the
Tay Bridge disaster The Tay Bridge Disaster occurred during a violent storm on Sunday 28 December 1879, when the first Tay Rail Bridge collapsed as a train from Burntisland to Dundee passed over it, killing all aboard. The bridge—designed by Thomas Bouch, Sir Tho ...
, where he gave evidence about the effects of wind loads on the bridge. The centre section of the bridge (known as the High Girders) was completely destroyed during a storm on 28 December 1879, while an express train was in the section, and everyone aboard died (more than 75 victims). The Board of Inquiry listened to many
expert witness An expert witness, particularly in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written ...
es, and concluded that the bridge was "badly designed, badly built and badly maintained". As a result of his evidence, he was appointed a member of the subsequent
Royal Commission A royal commission is a major ad-hoc formal public inquiry A tribunal of inquiry is an official review of events or actions ordered by a government body. In many common law countries, such as the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of ...
into the effect of wind pressure on structures. The effects of high winds on large structures had been neglected at that time, and the commission conducted a series of measurements across Britain to gain an appreciation of wind speeds during storms, and the pressures they exerted on exposed surfaces.


Work on religion

Stokes generally held conservative religious values and beliefs. In 1886, he became president of the
Victoria Institute The Victoria Institute, or Philosophical Society of Great Britain, was founded in 1865, as a response to the publication of '' On the Origin of Species'' and '' Essays and Reviews''. Its stated objective was to defend "the great truths revealed i ...
, which had been founded to defend evangelical Christian principles against challenges from the new sciences, especially the
Darwinian Darwinism is a theory A theory is a reason, rational type of abstraction, abstract thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking is often associated with such processes as obser ...

Darwinian
theory of biological
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, ...

evolution
. He gave the 1891 Gifford lecture on
natural theology Natural theology, once also termed physico-theology, is a type of theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity.
. He was also the vice-president of the
British and Foreign Bible Society British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, the British identity and common culture * British English, ...
and was actively involved in doctrinal debates concerning missionary work. However, although his religious views were mostly orthodox, he was unusual among Victorian evangelicals in rejecting eternal punishment in hell, and instead was a proponent of Conditionalism. As President of the Victoria Institute, Stokes wrote: ''"We all admit that the book of Nature and the book of Revelation come alike from God, and that consequently there can be no real discrepancy between the two if rightly interpreted. The provisions of Science and Revelation are, for the most part, so distinct that there is little chance of collision. But if an apparent discrepancy should arise, we have no right on principle, to exclude either in favour of the other. For however firmly convinced we may be of the truth of revelation, we must admit our liability to err as to the extent or interpretation of what is revealed; and however strong the scientific evidence in favour of a theory may be, we must remember that we are dealing with evidence which, in its nature, is probable only, and it is conceivable that wider scientific knowledge might lead us to alter our opinion".''


Personal life

He married, on 4 July 1857 at St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh, Mary Susanna Robinson, daughter of the astronomer Rev Thomas Romney Robinson. They had five children: Arthur Romney, who inherited the baronetcy; Susanna Elizabeth, who died in infancy; Isabella Lucy (Mrs Laurence Humphry) who contributed the personal memoir of her father in "Memoir and Scientific Correspondence of the Late George Gabriel Stokes, Bart"; Dr William George Gabriel, physician, a troubled man who committed suicide aged 30 whilst temporarily insane; and Dora Susanna, who died in infancy. His male line and hence his baronetcy is extinct but through the female line he is survived by one great great grandson, one great great granddaughter, and three great great great grandchildren.


Legacy and honours

*
Lucasian Professor of Mathematics The Lucasian Chair of Mathematics () is a mathematics professorship in the University of Cambridge, England; its holder is known as the Lucasian Professor. The post was founded in 1663 by Henry Lucas (politician), Henry Lucas, who was Cambridge Uni ...
at Cambridge University *From the
Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exis ...
, of which he became a fellow in 1851, he received the
Rumford Medal The Rumford Medal is an award bestowed by Britain's Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society and the United Kingdom's national academy of sciences. Founded ...
in 1852 in recognition of his inquiries into the wavelength of light, and later, in 1893, the
Copley Medal The Copley Medal is an award given by the Royal Society, for "outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science". It alternates between the physical sciences or mathematics and the biological sciences. Given every year, the medal is t ...
. *In 1869 he presided over the
Exeter Exeter () is a city in Devon Devon (, archaically known as Devonshire) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') ...
meeting of the British Association. *From 1883 to 1885 he was Burnett lecturer at
Aberdeen Aberdeen (; sco, Aiberdeen, ; gd, Obar Dheathain ; la, Aberdonia) is a city in northeast Scotland. It is the List of towns and cities in Scotland by population, third most populous city in Scotland, one of Scotland's 32 Local government in ...
, his lectures on light, which were published in 1884–1887, dealing with its nature, its use as a means of investigation, and its beneficial effects. *On 18 April 1888 he was admitted as a Freeman of the City of London. *On 6 July 1889 Queen Victoria created him the
Baronet A baronet ( or ; abbreviated Bart or Bt) or the rare female equivalent, a baronetess (, , or ; abbreviation Btss), is the holder of a baronetcy, a hereditary title awarded by the British Crown The Crown is the in all its aspects within ...

Baronet
Stokes of Lensfield Cottage in the
Baronetage of the United Kingdom Baronet A baronet ( or ; abbreviated Bart or Bt) or the rare female equivalent, a baronetess (, , or ; abbreviation Btss), is the holder of a baronetcy, a hereditary title awarded by the British Crown The Crown is the in all its aspec ...
; the title became extinct in 1916. *In 1891, as Gifford lecturer, he published a volume on Natural Theology. *Member of the
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...

Prussia
n Order Pour le Mérite *His academic distinctions included honorary degrees from many universities, including **''Doctor mathematicae (
honoris causa An honorary degree is an academic degree for which a university (or other degree-awarding institution) has waived all of the usual requirements, such as matriculation, attendance, course credits, a dissertation, and the passing of comprehen ...

honoris causa
)'' from the Royal Frederick University on 6 September 1902, when they celebrated the centennial of the birth of
mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces ...

mathematician
Niels Henrik Abel Niels Henrik Abel ( , ; 5 August 1802 – 6 April 1829) was a Norwegian mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics ...

Niels Henrik Abel
. *The stokes, a unit of
kinematic viscosity The viscosity of a fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformation (mechanics), deforms (flows) under an applied shear stress, or external force. Fluids are a Phase (matter), phase of matter and include liquids, Gas, ...
, is named after him. *In July 2017,
Dublin City University Dublin City University (abbreviated as DCU) ( ga, Ollscoil Chathair Bhaile Átha Cliath) is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary educat ...
named a building after Stokes in recognition of his contributions to physics and mathematics.DCU names three buildings after inspiring women scientists
Raidió Teilifís Éireann (; Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Br ...
, 5 July 2017


Publications

Stokes's mathematical and physical papers (see external links) were published in a collected form in five volumes; the first three (Cambridge, 1880, 1883, and 1901) under his own editorship, and the two last (Cambridge, 1904 and 1905) under that of Sir
Joseph Larmor Sir Joseph Larmor (11 July 1857 – 19 May 1942) was an Irish and British physicist and mathematician who made breakthroughs in the understanding of electricity, dynamics, thermodynamics, and the electron theory of matter. His most influentia ...
, who also selected and arranged the ''Memoir and Scientific Correspondence of Stokes'' published at Cambridge in 1907.


References

*


Further reading

*Wilson, David B., ''Kelvin and Stokes A Comparative Study in Victorian Physics'', (1987) ** * *Peter R Lewis
''Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay: Reinvestigating the Tay Bridge Disaster of 1879''
Tempus (2004). * *PR Lewis, ''Disaster on the Dee: Robert Stephenson's Nemesis of 1847'', Tempus Publishing (2007) *
George Gabriel Stokes: Life, Science and Faith
' Edited by Mark McCartney, Andrew Whitaker, and Alastair Wood, Oxford University Press, 2019.


External links

* *

* (1907), ed. by J. Larmor * Mathematical and physical paper
volume 1
an
volume 2
from the
Internet Archive The Internet Archive is an American digital library A digital library, also called an online library, an internet library, a digital repository, or a digital collection is an online databaseAn online database is a database In computing ...
* Mathematical and physical papers
volumes 1 to 5
from the University of Michigan Digital Collection.
Life and work of Stokes

''Natural Theology''
(1891), Adam and Charles Black. (1891–93
Gifford Lectures The Gifford Lectures () are an annual series of lecture A lecture (from the French ''lecture'', meaning reading) is an oral presentation intended to present information or teach people about a particular subject, for example by a university ...
) * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Stokes, George Gabriel 1819 births 1903 deaths People from County Sligo 19th-century Anglo-Irish people Alumni of Pembroke College, Cambridge Fellows of Pembroke College, Cambridge Masters of Pembroke College, Cambridge Baronets in the Baronetage of the United Kingdom Irish mathematicians Irish physicists British physicists Optical physicists 19th-century British mathematicians Fluid dynamicists Irish Anglicans Lucasian Professors of Mathematics Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for English constituencies Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for the University of Cambridge Fellows of the Royal Society Presidents of the Royal Society Foreign associates of the National Academy of Sciences UK MPs 1886–1892 Viscosity Recipients of the Copley Medal Recipients of the Pour le Mérite (civil class) Senior Wranglers