Friday, February 10, 2012

On February 10

On this day in ...
... 1850, Sofia Kovalevskaya (also known as Sonia Kovalevsky) died in Stockholm, Sweden, 41 years after she'd been born in Moscow, Russia, to a military father and a scholarly mother. She learned mathematics via tutors; when it became time for higher education, as a teenager married a man who would give her the then-requisite permission to study, and they emigrated. She audited classes in Heidelberg and debated "woman's capacity for abstract thought" in London. She presented papers in to the faculty at the University of Göttingen, for which she became the 1st woman in Europe to hold a doctorate in math. In Sweden (where she went by the first name of "Sonya"), the couple fell on hard times, and the husband committed suicide. Eventually she secured academic appointments at Stockholm University, and in 1889 she became the 1st woman appointed to a full professorship in Europe. (credit for photo of 1895 bust of Kovalevskaya)

(Prior February 10 posts are here, here, here, and here.)

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