This evening, I was chatting with a good friend of mine. Not unlike usual, our topics of discussion started to take a rather interesting trajectory, spanning Nobel prize, the controversies surrounding it, Field medalists; until my friend told me about a “crackpot mathematician who developed with an ingenious method to solve differential equations”. I grew interested and wanted to know the mathematician’s name, and my friend obliged by dusting up his old textbooks. This man was Oliver Heaviside.
I fired up Wikipedia to find out more about the person – and in no time, I was stupefied by the scope and magnitude of the diverse accomplishments by this extraordinary genius. To cite the simplest example, the current formulation of Maxwell’s electromagnetic equations; as four elegant differential equations; was Heaviside’s accomplishment – which he reduced from twelve equations in twenty variables! This, coincidentally, is a single example out of his diverse fields of work ranging vector calculus, electromagnetism and electrical engineering, among others.
Oliver Heaviside is one of the most underrated scientists of all time, and probably, one of the most talented. I stand up in ovation to the extraordinary human-being, pioneer of large subsets of Mathematics and Physics as we see today.