Cool physics professor

   Posted by: rring   in College Archives, Trinitiana

Dadourian1Dadourian2A recent gift to the archives is what appears to be an early, self-published “edition” (ca. 1930s) of H. M. Dadourian’s Introduction to Analytic Geometry and the Calculus. We have a copy of a photo-reduced (“Lithoprinted”) typescript, slightly altered and dated 1947, as well as a copy of the 1949 edition published the Ronald Press (New York).

Dadourian, born in Turkish Armenia in 1878, emigrated to the United States in 1900, took three degrees at Yale and then taught physics there for 10 years, served as an aeronautical engineer at Princeton during WWI and a few years after (1917-23), and was appointed Seabury professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Trinity College from 1923–1949. He retired in 1949 but remained very active—supporting our intervention during WWII to prevent Germany from conquering Great Britain, and opposing nuclear testing, the development of nuclear weapons, and our involvement in Vietnam. He died in West Hartford in 1974.

“Among his most highly regarded courses at Trinity was one in advanced physics in which classical mechanics were studied by means of the mathematics of the 17th and 18th centuries. The mathematics were used as a tool to understand physical principles which in turn were reduced in large measure to a single principle called The Action Principle. Most of the course was devoted to furthering understanding of this principle by using it to solve problems. The course demonstrated that a great deal could be learned about nature from detailed and general examination of relatively simple problems, and that hypotheses could be proved wrong, although not right, without actual experiments. In his teaching, Dadourian emphasized the importance of stating a problem accurately in terms simple enough to permit mathematical translation.”

[From volume 58 of the National Cyclopedia of American Biography]

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