John Lighton Synge
John Lighton Synge (
March 23, 1897– March 30, 1995) was an Irish mathematicianand physicist.
Synge was born 1897 in
Dublin, Ireland, in a Protestant family and educated at St. Andrew's College, Dublin. He entered Trinity College, Dublinin 1915. He won a Foundation Scholarship in his first year, which was quite remarkable because it was normally won by third year students. While an undergraduate he spotted a non-trivial error in a leading textbook in advanced mathematical analysis, written by E. T. Whittaker, and notified Whittaker of the error. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=fjDXtalPeesC&pg=PT228&lpg=PT228&dq=synge+trinity+whittaker+oscillations&source=web&ots=0Go-vRppSA&sig=Az6EywGNq3Bb_20Pp-djrxvcE90&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result McCartney and Whitaker, p. 212.] ] In 1919 he was awarded an M.A. in both Mathematics and Experimental Physics, and also a gold medal for outstanding merit.
He married Eleanor Mabel Allen in 1918. Their daughter Cathleen was born in 1923 and daughter Isabel born in 1930. Synge's daughter
Cathleen Synge Morawetzwent on to become a distinguished mathematician too. Synge's uncle John Millington Syngewas a famous playwright, and Synge is more distantly related to the 1952 Nobel prizewinner in chemistry Richard Laurence Millington Synge.
Career in mathematics and physics
Synge was appointed to the position of lecturer at Trinity College, and then accepted a position at the
University of Torontoin 1920. From 1920 until 1925, Synge was an assistant professor of mathematics at the University of Toronto. He returned to Trinity College in 1925, where he was elected to a fellowship and was appointed to the chair of Natural Philosophy(the old name for Physics). He was a member of the Mathematical Society of Americaand the London Mathematical Society. He was treasurer of the Royal Irish Academyin 1929. He went back to Torontoin 1930. He was appointed Professor of Applied Mathematicsand became Head of the Department of Applied Mathematics.
He spent some of 1939 at
Princeton University, and in 1941, he was a visiting professor at Brown University. In 1943 he was appointed as Chairman of the Mathematics Departmentof Ohio State University. Three years later he became Head of the Mathematics Departmentof the Carnegie Institute of Technologyin Pittsburgh, where John Nash was one of his students. He spent a short time as a ballistic mathematicianin the US Air Forcebetween 1944 and 1945.
He returned to
Irelandin 1948, accepting the position of Senior Professorin the School of Theoretical Physicsat the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. This school had been set up in 1940, and had several outstanding members, including Erwin Schrödinger(who contributed to quantum mechanics), who was also a Senior Professor.
Synge made outstanding contributions to different fields of work including
classical mechanics, general mechanicsand geometrical optics, gas dynamics, hydrodynamics, elasticity, electrical networks, mathematical methods, differential geometry, and Einstein’s theory of relativity. He studied an extensive range of mathematical physics problems, but his best known work revolved around using geometrical methodsin general relativity.
He was one of the first physicists to seriously study the interior of a
black hole, and is sometimes credited with anticipating the discovery of the structure of the Schwarzschild vacuum(a black hole).
He also created the game of Vish in which players compete to find circularity (vicious circles) in dictionary definitions. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=QxkLAAAAMAAJ&q=vish&pgis=1#search Synge, "Science: Sense and Nonsense", p. 23-24, p. 32.] ]
Synge received many honours for his works. He was elected as a fellow of the
Royal Society of Londonin 1943. He was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and was president of the Royal Irish Academyfrom 1961 until 1964.
He was the first recipient of the
Henry Marshall Tory Medalof the Royal Society of Canada.
John Lighton Synge retired in 1972, and during his time at the
Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, about 12% of all workers in the relativity theorystudied there. Professor Herman Bondi, who gave the first J. L. Synge Public Lecture in 1992, had this to say: “Every one of the other 88% has been deeply influenced by his geometric vision and the clarity of his expression”.
During his long scientific career, Synge published over 200 papers and 11 books.
He died on
30 March, 1995.
His personality and achievements
He is described as a kind and generous man. He encouraged and inspired several generations of students. He will be remembered by them with gratitute, fondness, and the deepest respect. He is one of the few people who make mathematics do useful work for
solids, liquids, gases, and space.
Synge was a keen
cyclist, was passionately interested in sailing, and painted some very nice pictures, including a picture representing Schrödingerheld in the hands of God, thinking of theories.
John L. Synge Awardwas established by the Royal Society of Canada, in 1986, to honour John Lighton Synge, one of the first mathematicians working in Canadato be internationally recognised for his research in mathematics. He was a member of the Royal Irish Academy, and was at the University of Toronto, and later a senior Professor at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.
*cite book |title=Physicists of Ireland: Passion and Precision |last=McCartney |first=Mark |authorlink= |coauthors=Andrew Whitaker |year=2003 |publisher=Institute of Physics Pub |location=Bristol and Philadelphia |isbn=0750308664 |pages=
*cite book |last=Synge |first=J. L. |authorlink= |coauthors= |others= |title=Science: Sense and Nonsense |year=1951 |publisher=Cape |location=London |isbn= 0836973321 |url=http://books.google.com/books?id=QxkLAAAAMAAJ ( [http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/4512218 worldcat] )
*cite book |title=Kandelman's Krim; A Realistic Fantasy |last=Synge |first=J. L. |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1957 |publisher=Cape |location=London |isbn= |pages= |url=http://books.google.com/books?id=bThKAAAAMAAJ ( [http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/10441212 worldcat] )
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John Lighton Synge — (* 23. März 1897 in Dublin; † 30. März 1995 ebenda) war ein irisch kanadischer Mathematiker und theoretischer Physiker, die sich vor allem mit Allgemeiner Relativitätstheorie, geometrischer Mechanik und Optik beschäftigte. Synge besuchte das St.… … Deutsch Wikipedia
John Lighton Synge — John Lighton Synge, né le 23 mars 1897 à Dublin, mort le 30 mars 1995, était un mathématicien et physicien Irlandais. Il fut le premier récipiendaire de la médaille Henry Marshall Tory, en 1943. Le prix John L. Synge fut créé en son honneur en… … Wikipédia en Français
John L. Synge Award — is an award by the Royal Society of Canada for outstanding research in any branch of the mathematical sciences. It was created in 1986 and is given at irregular intervals. The award is named in honor of John Lighton Synge. Winners *1987 James G.… … Wikipedia
Prix John L. Synge — Le Prix John L. Synge a été créé en 1986 par la Société royale du Canada en l honneur de John Lighton Synge. La distinction est octroyée en reconnaissance de recherches éminentes dans tout domaine des sciences mathématiques. Lauréats 1987 James… … Wikipédia en Français
Synge (surname) — Synge is the Irish writer John Millington Synge (1871 1909). Synge may also refer to: Richard Laurence Millington Synge (1914 1994), British biochemist John Lighton Synge (1897 1995), Irish mathematician and physicist Cathleen Synge (born 1923),… … Wikipedia
Synge — may refer to:* Cathleen Synge Morawetz (born 1923), mathematician * Charles Synge Christopher Bowen, English judge * John Lighton Synge (1897 1995), Irish mathematician and physicist * John Millington Synge (1871 1909), Irish dramatist, poet,… … Wikipedia
Synge — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Cathleen Synge Morawetz (* 1923), kanadisch US amerikanische Mathematikerin Edward Hutchinson Synge (1890 – 1957), irischer Physiker John Lighton Synge (1897–1995), irisch kanadischer Mathematiker und… … Deutsch Wikipedia
John Synge — may refer to:* John Lighton Synge (1897 1995), Irish mathematician and physicist * John Millington Synge (1871 1909), Irish dramatist, poet, prose writer, and collector of folklore … Wikipedia
John Synge — ist der Name folgender Personen: John Lighton Synge (1897–1995), irisch kanadischer Mathematiker und Physiker John Millington Synge (1871–1909), irischer Dramatiker Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur Unterscheidung … Deutsch Wikipedia
John Synge — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie différentes personnes partageant un même nom. John Lighton Synge (1897 1995), mathématicien et physicien irlandais ; John Millington Synge (1871 1909), dramaturge, prosateur et poète irlandais.… … Wikipédia en Français