John Couch Adams 1819 Canvas Art - Ken Welsh Design Pics (13 x 16).

School period

Gallery of John Couch Adams

St John's College, Cambridge, the view over the rear buildings of St John's from the Backs.

College/University

Gallery of John Couch Adams

University of Cambridge, Latin: Universitas Cantabrigiensis.

Gallery of John Couch Adams

The Mathematical Bridge over the River Cam (at Queens' College).

Gallery of John Couch Adams

University of Cambridge

Career

Gallery of John Couch Adams

Cornish-born mathematician and astronomer b. 5 June 1819.

Gallery of John Couch Adams

An illustration of a title page from the research by John Couch Adams, published in 1846.

Gallery of John Couch Adams

John Couch Adams (1819-9).

Gallery of John Couch Adams

John Couch Adams display in Lawrence House Museum, Launceston, Cornwall.

Gallery of John Couch Adams

John Couch Adams

Gallery of John Couch Adams

The International Meridian Conference of 1884 at Washington. John Couch Adams represented the UK and is in the centre of the photograph, standing on the third step.

Achievements

Membership

Awards

Copley Medal, 1848

The Copley Medal is an award given by the Royal Society, for "outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science."

Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1866

The Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) is the highest award given by the RAS.

The International Meridian Conference of 1884 at Washington. John Couch Adams represented the UK and is in the centre of the photograph, standing on the third step.

An Attempt To Test The Theories Of Capillary Action: By Comparing The Theoretical And Measured Forms Of Drops Of Fluid. With An Explanation Of The ... Give The Theoretical Forms Of Such Drops...

(The present volume of the Collected Works of the late Pro...)

The present volume of the Collected Works of the late Professor John Couch A dams contains all the original papers which were published by him during his lifetime, extending from 1844 (when he was 25 years of age) to 1890. They consist of about 50 Astronomical Papers which were for the most part printed in theM emoirs or Monthly Notices of theE oyal Astronomical Society and 11 Papers on Pure Mathematics. Besides these there are many papers on various branches of Astronomy which were left in an incomplete state among Professor A dams manuscripts. These are being prepared for publication by Professor Sampson.

Reply to various objections which have been brought against: His theory of the secular acceleration of the moon's mean motion

(Reply to various objections which have been brought again...)

Reply to various objections which have been brought against - His theory of the secular acceleration of the moon's mean motion is an unchanged, high-quality reprint of the original edition of 1860. Hansebooks is editor of the literature on different topic areas such as research and science, travel and expeditions, cooking and nutrition, medicine, and other genres.

An attempt to test the theories of capillary action by comparing the theoretical and measured forms of drops of fluid. With an explanation of the ... give the theoretical forms of such drops

John Couch Adams was a British astronomer and mathematician, predicted through mathematical equations the existence of the planet Neptune in 1845. Adams was appointed the Lowndean professor of astronomy and geometry at Cambridge in 1859, and became director of the Cambridge Observatory in 1861, a post he held until his death.

Background

John Couch Adams was born on June 5, 1819 at Lidcot farm, seven miles from Launceston. He was the eldest son of Thomas Adams, a tenant farmer and a devout Wesleyan, and Tabitha Knill Grylls. The family circumstances were modest but respectable: Tabitha Adams’ cousin was the headmaster of a private school in Devonport, and in 1836 her adoptive mother left her some property and a small income which helped support John’s education.

Education

Adams had his first schooling in a Laneast farmhouse. In 1827 he was tutored in calligraphy, Greek, and mathematics, but quickly outpaced his teacher. He developed an early interest in astronomy, inscribing a sundial on his window sill and observing solar altitudes with an instrument he built himself. In 1831 he was sent to his cousin’s academy, where he distinguished himself in classics, spending his spare time on astronomy and mathematics. Teaching himself, he finished the standard texts on conic sections, differential calculus, theory of numbers, theory of equations, and mechanics. Adams’s precocity convinced his parents that he should be sent to a university. He was admitted to Cambridge University on a scholarship in the fall of 1839, and graduated in 1843. During his studies at the University he went on to win the highest mathematical prizes and took first prize in Greek testament every year that he was at Cambridge.

By October 1843 Adams had arrived at a solution of the inverse perturbation problem: given the mass of a body and its deviations from the path predicted for it by Newtonian mechanics, find the orbit and position of another body perturbing it through gravitational attraction. This problem required, among other procedures, the solution of ten simultaneous equations of condition for as many unknowns. Although Adams’s first result was approximate, it convinced him that the disturbances of Uranus were due to an undiscovered planet.

In February 1844, Adams applied through James Challis to the astronomer royal, Sir George Biddell Airy, for more exact data on Uranus. Using figures supplied by Airy, Adams computed values for the elliptic elements, mass, and heliocentric longitude of the hypothetical planet. He gave his results to Challis in September 1845, and after two unsuccessful attempts to present his work to Airy in person, he left a copy of it at the Royal Observatory on 21 October 1845. Although Airy wrote to Adams a few weeks later criticizing his paper, he did not institute a search for the planet until July 1846.

In the meantime a French astronomer, Urbain Jean Joseph Leverrier, independently published several papers on the theory of Uranus and reached the same conclusions as Adams had regarding an exterior planet. Although Leverrier began his investigation later, he pressed his case more aggressively, and on 23 September 1846 the perturbing body – Neptune - was discovered as a result of his efforts. Johann Gottfried Galle, an astronomer at the Berlin Observatory, found the planet less than one degree distant from the point where Leverrier predicted it would lie.

Leverrier was immediately showered with honors and congratulations. Adams’ earlier prediction, which agreed closely with Leverrier’s, was thus far unpublished. It was first publicized in a letter from Sir John Herschel to the London Athenaeum on 3 October 1846 and provoked a long and bitter controversy over priority of discovery. The two principals took little part in the feud, but the issue became a public sensation. It still seems remarkable that Airy suppressed Adams’ work for so long and that Adams was so reticent about pressing his claims. This behavior was, however, characteristic of Adams. The modesty that temporarily cost him some glory endeared him to colleagues and friends throughout his life.

The disparity between the credit accorded to Leverrier and that accorded to Adams was not made up for some years, but the two men met at Oxford in 1847 and became good friends. Adams was offered a knighthood by Queen Victoria in 1847 but declined it; the following year the Adams Prize, awarded biennially for the best essay in physics, mathematics, or astronomy, was instituted at Cambridge. The Royal Society gave Adams its highest award, the Copley Medal, in 1848.

In 1851 Adams was elected president of the Royal Astronomical Society and shortly afterward began to work on lunar theory. After much laborious calculation he finished new tables of the moon’s parallax which corrected several errors in lunar theory and gave more accurate positions. In the meantime, since he had not taken holy orders, his fellowship at St. John’s expired in 1852. He was elected a fellow of Pembroke College in 1853, and shortly afterward he presented to the Royal Society a remarkable paper on the secular acceleration of the moon’s mean motion. This quantity was thought to have been definitively investigated by Pierre Simon de Laplace in 1788, but Adams showed that Laplace’s solution was incorrect. In particular, Laplace had ignored a variation in solar eccentricity that introduces into the differential equations for the moon’s motion a series of additional terms. Adams calculated the second term of the series, on which the secular acceleration depends, as 3771/64 m4; the value computed from Laplace’s work was 2187/128 m. The effect of the correction was to reduce the figure for the moon’s secular acceleration by about half, from 10".58 to 5".70.

This paper caused a sharp scientific controversy, marked by angry chauvinism on the part of several French astronomers. Their attacks stimulated a number of independent investigations of the subject, all of which confirmed Adams’ result. The matter was definitely settled in his favor by 1861, but not without hard feelings.

In 1858 Adams occupied the chair of mathematics at the University of St. Andrews, vacating it the following year to accept the appointment as Lowndean professor of astronomy and geometry at Cambridge. In 1861 he succeeded James Challis as director of the Cambridge Observatory, and in 1863.

In 1866 the Royal Astronomical Society awarded Adams a gold medal for his work on lunar theory.

The brilliant Leonid meteor shower of November 1866 stimulated Adams to investigate the elements of the Leonid system. By dividing the orbit into small segments, he calculated analysis of perturbations for the meteor group, resulting in improved values for its period and elements. This work provided another demonstration of Adams’s extraordinary ability to manipulate equations of great length and complexity without error.

In 1870 the Cambridge Observatory acquired a Simms transit circle. In order to exploit it fully, Adams undertook - a rarity for him - the direction of a program of observational astronomy. The circle was used to map a zone lying between 25° and 30° of north declination for the Astronomische Gesellschaft program. This work was first published in 1897.

In 1874 Adams was elected to a second term as president of the Royal Astronomical Society. His scientific interest at this time turned to mathematics. Like Euler and Gauss, Adams enjoyed the calculation of exact values for mathematical constants. In 1877 he published thirty-one Bernoullian numbers, thus doubling the known number. With sixty-two Bernoullian numbers available, he decided to compute a definitive value of Euler’s constant; this required the calculation of certain logarithms to 273 decimal places. Using these terms, Adams extended Euler’s contant to 263 decimal places. This result was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society in 1878; in the same year Adams published expressions for the products of two Legendrian coefficients and for the integral of the product of three.

In retrospect Adams’ many mathematical and astronomical achievements pale in comparison to his analysis of the orbit of Uranus and his prediction of the existence and position of Neptune at the age of twenty-four. Much of his later work has been superseded, but as the co-discoverer of Neptune he occupies a special, undiminished place in the history of science.

In October 1889 Adams became seriously ill with a stomach haemorrhage. He recovered but the illness recurred and this cycle repeated itself several times until June 1891. From this time on it was clear that no recovery would occur. Adams died in the Cambridge Observatory on January 21, 1892, and was buried at the Ascension Parish Burial Ground of Cambridge, England.

Besides his great interest in astronomy, Adams also had a scientific interest in the field of mathematics. He was a fervent admirer of Isaac Newton. In 1872, when Lord Portsmouth presented Newton’s scientific papers to Cambridge University, Adams willingly undertook to arrange and catalog those dealing with mathematics. He was also an omnivorous reader in other fields, especially botany, history, and fiction. He usually kept a novel at hand when working on long mathematical problems.

Always meticulous, Adams had a reputation for constructing mathematical questions for his students which were admired by all for their beauty. He was a man of great learning studying history, literature, biology and geology.

Personality

At his youth Adams had his mother's good ear and love of music. Later in life Adams was happily married, profoundly devout, and enjoyed social visits, house guests, entertaining, music, dancing, parties, long daily walks, croquet, bowls, and whist.

He shared contemporary interests in mesmerism and the occult. A bibliophile, when not socializing in the evenings he read. He attended the weekly meetings of The Family, a university dining club, at least from 1860 to 1889. Having an outgoing personality, Adams was much involved in college and university social life.

Interests

Philosophers & Thinkers

Isaac Newton

Sport & Clubs

croquet

Connections

In 1863, when Adams was forty-four, he married Eliza Bruce of Dublin.