Russian Kopernik – Brilliant Mathematician Nikolai Lobachevsky

For more than two thousand years the Euclidean geometry was considered the only possible and absolute. Before Nikolai Lobachevsky came around who created a new geometry.

“Lobachevsky … [- is] Kopernik of geometry … Each of them has revolutionized scientific views”.

William Clifford

Reactionary Policy of the Tsarist Regime

Lobachevsky quite early began thinking about the restructuring of the foundations of geometry.

The Government of the Emperor Alexander I was looking to restrain freethinking, for which it inspected the educational centers of Russia.

After inspecting the Kazan University, where Lobachevskytaught, a number of professors were fired and public censorship was assigned to everything that was happening within the walls of the University. Initially, the defeat of the University, as strange as it was, helped in promoting Lobachevsky; for several years he had to replace the missing professors and became dean of the Department of physics and mathematics.

The portrait of Lobachevsky, etched in Leipzig by Gedan

The portrait of Lobachevsky, etched in Leipzig by Gedan

However, the censors quickly became aware of the differences between liberal position of Lobachevsky and the official, introducing religion to the educational process of the University.

At that time, Lobachevsky created the textbooks “Geometry” (1823) and “Algebra” (1925), which were subjected to harsh harassment and were not published, and in February of 1826 he made ​​his first report on non-Euclidean geometry – Lobachevsky geometry (“Imaginary geometry”). Surprisingly, at this particular time there was also a displacement of reactionaries as a result of the accession of Emperor Nicholas I.

New Trusteeof the University was able to appreciate the potential of Lobachevsky –and already in 1827 he was elected the Dean of the University for the whole 19 years. However, harassment of his works by other not so gifted scientists, who did not understand the “imaginary geometry”, continued. But Lobachevsky showed a miracleof perseverance, and by 1840 he managed to publish a number of his works, including abroad. That tenacity of Lobachevsky led to a revolution in geometry, although the realization that the revolution had taken place (in other words, an understanding of what Lobachevsky had accomplished), came to the scientific world only after the death of the great scientist…

In 1846 a new round of persecution began – Lobachevsky was dismissed from all of his positions. Other professors tried to defend Lobachevsky, but without any results. A personal tragedy happens as well: the death of his son. Lacking income, Lobachevsky gradually became bankrupt; personal tragedies led to health problems and development of blindness. Lobachevsky managed to dictate his last work “Pangeometry” (1855), in which he summarized his extensive mathematical research.

 See also:

About Lobachevsky Geometry


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