MAA Writing Awards
Hamilton's Discovery of Quarternions
Year of Award:1977
Publication Information:Mathematics MagazineVol 49 (1976), pp. 227-234
Summary:Contemporary sources describe Hamilton's trail from repeated failures at multiplying triplets to the intuitive leap into the fourth dimension.
About the Author: (from Mathematics Magazine, Vol. 49 (1976)) Bartel Leendert van der Waerden was born in 1903, and received his doctorate from the University of Amsterdam in 1926. He served as a professor at several major universities in the Netherlands and Germany, and for many years was a professor at the University of Zurich. His Modern Algebra in two volumes (1930 and 1931, published originally in German but translated into several languages) is the classic introduction to abstract algebra. The history of mathematics and science has been immeasurably enriched by his Science Awakening, Sources of Quantum Mechanics and his recent The Birth of Astronomy.