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Sir Horace Lamb FRS (27 November 1849 – 4 December 1934)[1] was a British applied mathematician and author of several influential texts on classical physics, among them Hydrodynamics (1879) and Dynamical Theory of Sound (1910). Both of these books are still in print.

Horace Lamb is not to be confused with the Nobel Prize winning American physicist, Willis Lamb.

Life and work

Lamb was born at Stockport, Cheshire, England, the son of John Lamb and his wife Elizabeth, née Rangeley.[1] He studied at Stockport Grammar School, Owens College, Manchester, and Trinity College, Cambridge where he was Second Wrangler in the Mathematical Tripos, 2nd Smith's Prizeman and elected fellow in 1872.[2] His professors included James Clerk Maxwell and George Gabriel Stokes.

In 1875 Lamb was appointed professor of mathematics in the newly founded University of Adelaide. For the next 10 years the average number of students doing the arts course at Adelaide was fewer than 12; though Lamb also did some popular lecturing, his workload was relatively light. In 1878 appeared his able and original A Treatise on the Mathematical Theory of the Motions of Fluids.

In 1883 Lamb published a paper in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society[3] applying Maxwell's equations to the problem of oscillatory current flow in spherical conductors, an early examination of what was later to be known as the skin effect. Lamb was appointed to the Chair of Mathematics at the Victoria University of Manchester in 1885 and which became the Beyer Chair in 1888, a position Lamb held until retirement in 1920. His Hydrodynamics appeared in 1895 (6th ed. 1933), and other works included An Elementary Course of Infinitesimal Calculus (1897, 3rd ed. 1919), Propagation of Tremors over the Surface of an Elastic Solid (1904), The Dynamical Theory of Sound (1910, 2nd ed. 1925), Statics (1912, 3rd ed. 1928), Dynamics (1914), Higher Mechanics (1920) and The Evolution of Mathematical Physics (1924).

In 1932 Lamb, in an address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, wittily expressed on the difficulty of explaining and studying turbulence in fluids. He reportedly said, "I am an old man now, and when I die and go to heaven there are two matters on which I hope for enlightenment. One is quantum electrodynamics, and the other is the turbulent motion of fluids. And about the former I am rather optimistic."[4]

Lamb is also known for description of special waves in thin solid layers. Now these waves are called Lamb waves.

In 1875, Lamb married Elizabeth Foot of Dublin, who died in 1930. Lamb was survived by three sons and four daughters. The sons (who included the painter Henry Lamb) were born at Adelaide, South Australia, and all became distinguished.

He is buried at the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground in Cambridge.

Honours and awards

Lamb was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1884, was twice vice-president, received its Royal Medal in 1902 and, its highest honour, the Copley Medal in 1924. He was president of the London Mathematical Society 1902-4, president of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, and president of the British Association in 1925. He was knighted in 1931.A room in the Alan Turing Building at the University of Manchester is named in his honour.

See also

* Lamb (crater)
* Lamb–Oseen vortex


1. ^ a b R. B. Potts, 'Lamb, Sir Horace (1849 - 1934)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, MUP, 1974, pp 54-55. Retrieved 5 Sep 2009
2. ^ Lamb, Horace in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
3. ^ Lamb, Horace, On Electrical Motions in a Spherical Conductor, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. 1 January 1883 vol. 174 519-549, doi:10.1098/rstl.1883.0013
4. ^ "Tackling Turbulence with Supercomputers". Retrieved 2008-06-30.

Further reading

* Lamb, Horace. (1928). Statics: Including Hydrostatics and the Elements of the Theory of Elasticity. Cambridge University Press (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2009; ISBN 9781108005319)
* Lamb, Horace. (1961). Dynamics. Cambridge University Press (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2009; ISBN 9781108005333)
* Lamb, Horace. (1956). An Elementary Course of Infinitesimal Calculus. Cambridge University Press (reissued by Cambridge University Press, 2009; ISBN 9781108005340)
* Paul J. Nahin, Oliver Heaviside: Sage in Solitude, (1988), IEEE Press, New York, ISBN 0879422386
* Serle, Percival (1949). "Lamb, Horace". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.

External links

* S. C. (1935). "Obituary Notices : Fellows:- Lamb, Sir Horace". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 95: 324 – 325.
* O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Horace Lamb", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews, .


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