Photo ca. 1895, courtesy American Mathematical Society | ||

3 March 1838 |
1909 Bruce Medalist |
16 April 1914 |

After earning a B.A. at Rutgers, G.W. Hill joined the staff of the Nautical Almanac Office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1861. Shortly afterward he withdrew to his family’s farm in West Nyack, New York, where he preferred to work alone. Hill was one of the most respected mathematical astronomers of all time. He computed the orbit of the moon while making original contributions to the three body problem. He introduced infinite determinants, a concept which later found application in many fields of mathematics and physics. When Simon Newcomb took over the Nautical Almanac in 1877 and began a complete recomputation of all solar system motions, Hill was assigned the difficult problem of the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn. He reluctantly moved to Washington, where the Almanac Office was now located, completed the enormous labor in ten years, then returned to the farm, where he continued his research in celestial mechanics. He accepted a lectureship at Columbia University established especially for him (with a gift from Catherine W. Bruce), but soon resigned and returned his salary when few students enrolled in his course.

Burckhalter, Charles, *PASP* **21**, 51-60 (1909).

Royal Astronomical Society, Gold medal, 1887, presented by J.W.L. Glaisher, *MNRAS* **47**, 203-220 (1887). See also *Observatory* **10**, 114 (1906).

Royal Society, Copley Medal, 1909.

American Mathematical Society, President, 1895-96.

Archibald, Raymond Clare, *Semicentennial History of the American Mathematical Society, 1888&-1938* (American Mathematical Society, 1938), 117-24 [includes complete list of Hill’s publications].

Brown, E.W., *Biographical Memoirs, National Academy of Sciences ***8**, 275-309 (1916).

Dick, Steven J. & Jordan D. Marché II, *Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers* (Springer, NY, 2007), pp. 506-07.

Eisele, Carolyn, *Dictionary of Scientific Biography ***6**, 398-400.The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive

Moulton, Forrest Ray, “George William Hill,” *Popular Astronomy* **49**, 305-11 (1941).

Rutgers University Hall of Distinguished Alumni

Schlesinger, Frank, “Recollections of George William Hill,” *PASP* **49**, 4-12 (1937).

Schlesinger, Frank, “The Almost Forgotten Genius. Recollections of George William Hill ’59,” *Rutgers Alumni Monthly* **17**, 3 (1938).

Tenn, Joseph S., “George W. Hill: The Eighth Bruce Medalist,” Mercury ** 20**, 2, 52 (1991).

Brown, E.W., *Proc. Royal Society of London A* **91**, 42-51 (1915).

Jackson, J., *Observatory *** 37**, 257-60 (1914).

Jeans, James, *MNRAS* **75**, 258-64 (1915).

Moulton, Forrest Ray, *Popular Astronomy* **22**, 391-400 (1914).

Woodward, R.S., *Astronomical Journal* **28**, 161-62 (1914).

More obituaries

Mary Lea Shane Archives of Lick Observatory, 1909 photo

U.S. Naval Observatory Library: painting by Beverly Stautz

Lunar crater Hill

Minor Planet #1642 Hill

Hill Center for Mathematical Sciences, Rutgers University

George William Hill Professorship of Mathematics and Physics, Rutgers University

Please send comments, additions, corrections, and questions to joe.tenn@sonoma.edu |
JST 2014-04-02 |