Carl Gauss

Carl Gauss was a man who is known for making

a great deal breakthroughs in the wide variety of his work in both mathematics

and physics. He is responsible for immeasurable contributions to the fields

of number theory, analysis, differential geometry, geodesy, magnetism,

astronomy, and optics, as well as many more. The concepts that he himself

created have had an immense influence in many areas of the mathematic and

scientific world.

Carl Gauss was born Johann Carl Friedrich

Gauss, on the thirtieth of April, 1777, in Brunswick, Duchy of Brunswick

(now Germany). Gauss was born into an impoverished family, raised as the

only son of a bricklayer. Despite the hard living conditions, Gauss\'s brilliance

shone through at a young age. At the age of only two years, the young Carl

gradually learned from his parents how to pronounce the letters of the

alphabet. Carl then set to teaching himself how to read by sounding out

the combinations of the letters. Around the time that Carl was teaching

himself to read aloud, he also taught himself the meanings of number symbols

and learned to do arithmetical calculations.

When Carl Gauss reached the age of seven,

he began elementary school. His potential for brilliance was recognized

immediately. Gauss\'s teacher Herr Buttner, had assigned the class a difficult

problem of addition in which the students were to find the sum of the integers

from one to one hundred. While his classmates toiled over the addition,

Carl sat and pondered the question. He invented the shortcut formula on

the spot, and wrote down the correct answer. Carl came to the conclusion

that the sum of the integers was 50 pairs of numbers each pair summing

to one hundred and one, thus simple multiplication followed and the answer

could be found.

This act of sheer genius was so astounding

to Herr Buttner that the teacher took the young Gauss under his wing and

taught him fervently on the subject of arithmetic. He paid for the best

textbooks obtainable out of his own pocket and presented them to Gauss,

who reportedly flashed through them.

In 1788 Gauss began his education at the

Gymnasium, with the assistance of his past teacher Buttner, where he learned

High German and Latin. After receiving a scholarship from the Duke of Brunswick,

Gauss entered Brunswick Collegium Carolinum in 1792. During his time spent

at the academy Gauss independently discovered Bode\'s law, the binomial

theorem, and the arithmetic-geometric mean, as well as the law of quadratic

reciprocity and the prime number theorem. In 1795, an ambitious Gauss left

Brunswick to study at Gottingen University. His teacher there was Kaestner,

whom Gauss was known to often ridicule. During his entire time spent at

Gottingen Gauss was known to acquire only one friend among his peers, Farkas

Bolyai, whom he met in 1799 and stayed in touch with for many years.

In 1798 Gauss left Gottingen without a

diploma. This did not mean that his efforts spent in the university were

wasted. By this time he had made on of his most important discoveries,

this was the construction of a regular seventeen-gon by ruler and compasses.

This was the most important advancement in this field since the time of

Greek mathematics.

In the summer of 1801 Gauss published his

first book, Disquisitiones Arithmeticae, under a gratuity from the Duke

of Brunswick. The book had seven sections, each of these sections but the

last, which documented his construction of the 17-gon, were devoted to

number theory.

In June of 1801, Zach an astronomer whom

Gauss had come to know two or three years before, published the orbital

positions of, Ceres, a new "small planet", otherwise know as an asteroid.

Part of Zach\'s publication included Gauss\'s prediction for the orbit of

this celestial body, which greatly differed from those predictions made

by others. When Ceres was rediscovered it was almost exactly where Gauss

had predicted it to be.

Although Gauss did not disclose his methods

at the time, it was found that he had used his least squares approximation

method. This successful prediction started off Gauss\'s long involvement

with the field of astronomy.On October ninth, 1805 Gauss was married to

Johana Ostoff. Although Gauss lived a happy personal life for the first

time, he was shattered by the death of his benefactor, The Duke of Brunswick,

who was killed fighting for the Prussian army.

In 1807 Gauss left Brunswick to take up

the position of director of the Gottingen observatory. This was a time

of many changes for Carl Gauss. Gauss had made his way to Gottingen by

late 1807. The following year his father died, and a year following that

tragedy, his wife Johanna died giving

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