Education

James Thomson was the son of James Thomson (farmer), a wealthy farmer who is said to have home-schooled his son on the basics of education. The young James Thomson was said to have remarkable abilities and strong character. He was brought up on the land as a farm laborer, and received from his father the rudiments of education. Of note, he taught himself, without either skilled teachers or good textbooks, the art of making sundials and a night-dials, able to tell the time of day by one of the positions of Ursa Major. [2]

Sometime at about the age of twelve, James Thomson began as a pupil at a small school run by a Dr. Samuel Edgar, a Presbyterian minister, at Ballykine, to learn the classics and mathematics; his abilities where such that he soon was promoted to assistant teacher. From 1810 to 1814, while still teaching at Ballynahinch, he spent six winter months studying at the University of Glasgow, completed his MA in 1812. In the years to follow, he continued to attend classes in Medicine and Divinity still with the intention of entering the Church.

In 1814 he was appointed to the Belfast Academical Institution. This Institution had been founded in 1810 and had both a school department and a college department. Thomson's first appointment was to the school department where he taught arithmetic, geography, and bookkeeping for a year before moving to the college department where he became professor of mathematics.

James and William

In Belfast he met Margaret Gardner, the daughter of a Glasgow merchant, and they were married in 1817. The newly married couple lived in a house opposite the Belfast Academical Institution and their seven children were born in that house. The first son of the marriage was James Thomson (engineer), born in 1822, the second son, born in 1824, is the famous William Thomson (physicist).

James Thomson was offered the Chair of Mathematics at Glasgow University and took up the appointment in 1832, the essential starting point for the Glasgow school of thermodynamics.

Margaret Thomson, to note, had died in 1830 leaving Thomson to bring up his seven children. Two years after taking up the professorship his two sons James (then twelve years old) and William (then ten years old) began their university studies at Glasgow. These two young men turned out to be Thomson's most talented mathematics students.

In 1841, at the age of seventeen, in coordination with his father, William Thomson wrote his first scientific paper on Joseph Fourier’s analysis of heat under the pseudonym

William Thomson would go on to become professor of natural philosophy at Glasgow in 1846 and James Thomson professor of engineering at Glasgow in 1855.

Publications

As a mathematician he is famed as a writer of textbooks. While in Belfast he published

References

1. Lindley, David. (2004).

2. Thompson, Silvanus P. (1910).

3. James Thomson (senior) – MacTutor Biography, University of St. Andrews.

External links

● James Thomson (mathematician) – Wikipedia.