As promised, the contest for May ends around the 15th. Before sharing my own thoughts about Mr. Möbius, I will highlight our three winners for this month:
1. Our mystery mathematician (and astronomer!) is August Ferdinand Möbius.
2. He started out studying law because that's what his family wanted, but it was not to his liking, so he switched to mathematics, astronomy, and physics. He studied astronomy under Gauss and mathematics under Gauss's teacher Pfaff. Although his doctorate and his first academic posts were in the field of astronomy, his later, more famous, work is in mathematics, particularly topology and analytic geometry. His name is given to the single-faced, single-edged, two-dimensional surface known as the Möbius strip, although actual discovery and publication of that strip were by Listing.
3. Sources: http://www-history.mcs.st
1. August Mobius
2. "Before going out for a walk, he [Mobius] recited the German
formula "3S und Gut" composed of the initial letters of the objects
that he absolutely did not want to forget: Schlüssel (key), Schirm
(umbrella), Sacktuch (handkerchief), Geld (money), Uhr (watch),
The mystery mathematician is the most "one-sided" mathematician I have
heard of, i.e., Mobius.
Interestingly, when reading his biography on "Mathtutor: History of
Mathematics," I found that the Mobius Strip was actually invented by
Congratulations to our three winners. Certainly, there are always some fascinating facts or anecdotes that surface when one delves into the backgrounds of these legends of math. I was particularly impressed by Möbius' initial interest in astronomy and that fact that his mentor was someone named Gauss! In addition to his contributions to topology, he also did research in number theory and his name is attached to some important concepts (Möbius Function and Möbius Inversion Formula).
A quote that revealed much to me about the nature of this extraordinary person came from his biographer:
The inspirations for his research he found mostly in the rich well of his own original mind. His intuition, the problems he set himself, and the solutions that he found, all exhibit something extraordinarily ingenious, something original in an uncontrived way. He worked without hurrying, quietly on his own. His work remained almost locked away until everything had been put into its proper place. Without rushing, without pomposity and without arrogance, he waited until the fruits of his mind matured. Only after such a wait did he publish his perfected works...