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Mary Somerville Lecture — Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz: The Poetics of Science
24 Oct 2023 • ICMS Edinburgh, United Kingdom
The International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (ICMS)
Mary Somerville (1780-1872) was an eminent Scottish scientist of the 19th century. She made important contributions in mathematics and astronomy, such as her paper 'On the magnetizing power of the more refrangible solar rays' in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in 1826. She was one of the first two women to be elected to the Royal Astronomical Society in 1835 (the other was Caroline Herschel). Her outstanding science was inextricable from her powers of exposition as might be seen in her beautiful book On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences (1834), a best-seller that went through many editions and is often regarded as the first 'popular science' book. Remarkably, the third edition of the book (1836) and subsequent ones contained a discussion, based on tables of observation, about the possibility of an unknown planet perturbing Uranus. This led to the subsequent precise prediction of the position of Neptune by John Couch Adams in 1845. This lecture series for the general public on high-level topics at the interface of mathematics and other domains of inquiry commemorates the work and life of Mary Somerville. 
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Last updated: 19 January 2023