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Hours deceased

By Murray Bourne, 02 Feb 2007

There is an incoming link to squareCircleZ from the blog Horas Mortas by Maria in Lisbon, Portugal. The Babelfish translation of the blog title is "Hours Deceased". Hmm - there is a lot to think about in that title.

Maria has a piece about Sophie Germain (in Portuguese), who was a late 18th / early 19th century mathematician.

The translation goes (I have tidied it up a bit):

Lagrange presented her works [to the committee] under the pseudonym of M. LeBlanc. She made an impression and he wanted to meet with the student. He was amused when he saw that the author of the work was a woman, and became her mentor. With a man to present it, Sophie entered then in the circle of mathematicians and scientists.

In 1804 she started to correspond with the Gauss mathematician who was moved when discovering who the correspondent was.

Sophie Germain was a revolutionary who fought against the preconceptions and the absence of formal education obtaining to become a celebrated mathematical one.

It appears that the post is based on this article from Biographies of Women Mathematicians (in English). This quote says a lot about 19th century attitudes to women and learning:

Her parents felt that her interest [in mathematics] was inappropriate for a female.

With little formal education and lots of discouragement, she did well. It is a pity that there is still societal pressures working against success in mathematics − for boys and girls.

See the 6 Comments below.

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