A French reader tells us,"Poincaré is a famous name in France." We believe that these immages are of noted French mathemitican Jules Henri Poincaré. Henri was born in Nancy during 1854 to an affluent family. His father was a respected medical doctor who lectured at the University of Nancy. A cousin Raymond Poincaré went on to become President of France (1913- 1920). Henri had a younger sister, Aline, who he adored. She married the spiritual philosopher Emile Boutroux. Henri was a sickly boy. He was poorly coordinated and contracted a serious case of diphtheria. He was tutored by his gifted mother Eugénie. Henri proved adept in composition in his primary school. We note an image of a 7-year old French boy, Henri Poincaré. The portrait would have been done in 1861. The fact that he had a portrait painted of him shows that he came from an affluent family. At least we think it is a painting rather than a photograph (figure 1). Henri wears a jacket with wide short sleeves and puffed blouse sleeves. Hnri wears kneepants with plain pantalettes. We have another image of Henri a few years later, dressed in a long pants suit for his First Communion (click on figure 1). Note the white gloves. Henri entered the Lycée in Nancy (1862). The school has been remamed the Lycée Henri Poincaré. He studied 11 years at the Lycée which seems rather a long time for such a good student. He excelled at his studies and was one of the most proficient students in every class. His math teacher noted that he was a "monster of mathematics" and he won first prizes in the concours général, a competition between the top
pupils from all the Lycées across France. Poincaré began entered the École Polytechnique in 1873, graduating in 1875. He was more advanced in math than the other students. He permormed only average in physical exercise, perhaps related to his childhood lack of coordination. He also did not stand out in art. He enjoyed music, but his efforts to learn to play the piano at the École Polytechnique failed. He studied math under Charles Hermite. After graduation he did further work at the École des Mines where he continued to study mathematics. Henri went on to become not only one of Frnce's most notable mathemitician, but an important theoretical scientists and a philosopher of science.
He was also renowned as a great philosopher of scientific methodology. Poincaré is frequently described as the last "universalist" in that he contributed to many diverse fields of mathematics. His most notable contributions were in mathematical physics and celestial mechanics. He formulated the Poincaré conjecture, quite a well known math problem. Poincaré exhaustively studied this three-body problem and found a chaotic deterministic system. This work provided the foundation for the modern
chaos theory. Poincaré did most of hbis work before Albert Einstein published his first paper on relatvity (1905). He died in Paris during 1912.

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Created: 7:28 AM 5/22/2005

Last edited: 7:28 AM 5/22/2005