Georg Friedrich Berhard Riemann

    Mathematician: born Breslenz, Germany 1826 died Selasca, Italy 1866
Like most great mathematicians of this era, Riemann was nauseatingly good at his subject at school - he is reported to have read and mastered Legendre's massive on Number Theory in just six days. He was very shy at school, a characteristic that stayed with him for the rest of his life.
Riemann enrolled at the Univeristy of Gottingen in 1846 to study theology and philiology (to please his father, who was a pastor), but developed a stong interest in mathematics, which he later devoted himself to studing. The following year, he moved to the University of Berlin to continue his mathematical career.
In 1851 he submitted his PhD thesis, on complex function theory. He was keen to secure for himself the mathematical professorship here, a prestigious chair indeed, as it was held by Gauss at the time. When Gauss died in 1855, the chair was passed to Dirichlet. Dirichlet eventually popped his clogs four years later, and the professorship was given to Riemann.
Riemann married in 1862, although his health started to deteriorate shortly afterwards. Fearing tuberculosis, he travelled around Italy for hope of a better climate, although it was here that he dies a few years later.

Riemann was probably the first person who seriously asked the question as to which 3-manifold do we live in?. His inquiries lead to his discovery of differential geometry, a revoluationary theory which proposed for the first time that space sould have and intrinsic curvature without having to be immersed in a higher dimensional space. This viewpoint later proved essential to Einstein's formulation of the General Theory of Relativity.

Referneces: The Dictionary of Scientific Biography; Hyperspace by Michio Kaku.


A quick summary of Riemann's work. See my home node for details.

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