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Mathematicians born at the beginning of the year?

  1. Jul 15, 2011 #1
    I was looking through this neat math book I had when I was younger that listed the greatest mathematicians of history. I'm talking old, it's kind of funny because I liked mathematicians when I was younger because my favorite character on Jurassic Park was a mathematician and that's why I asked for the book, heh.

    But, I noticed that almost every mathematician listed was born before April.

    Bernoulli - Feb
    Erdos (not in the book, but I like him.) - March
    Euler - April
    Grothendieck - March
    Gauss - April
    Newton - January
    Galileo - Feb
    Lagrange - Jan
    Hilbert - Jan
    Poincare - April
    Hamming - Feb

    On, and on!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 15, 2011 #2


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    1] That covers 33% of the year, so not all that crazy.

    2] We'd have to see the whole list. Who knows, maybe they're organized by month! (If I showed you only my first four flips of a penny, and they were all heads, would that be spooky?)

    3] How does that compare with the population at-large? If it's the same then there's no mystery here. Don't assume birth months are evenly spread across the year.

    4] Who says the list is a comprehensive one of great mathematicians? By what criteria do they get on the list? Perhaps it was assembled by someone who has a preference for people born in the spring... (or a preference for making up mysteries where there are none.)

    5] How young were you? How good is your memory? You remembered what you wanted to remember. Or is there more to this?
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
  4. Jul 16, 2011 #3
    I have heard of correlations between success in sports and month of birth. It's generally explained that it's because the kids who are the oldest in their league will tend to be the best and are most likely to be groomed for professional athleticism. Since leagues usually have similar cut-off months, kids born just after the cut-off will tend to be better.

    Whether that's true or not, I have no idea. It makes sense, but I've never seen proof. It is possible that month of birth could be connected to success in a certain field, though.
  5. Jul 16, 2011 #4


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    I was born in June, Chebyschev in May. :smile:
  6. Jul 16, 2011 #5
    Here are some random people I searched and who were born after april:

  7. Jul 16, 2011 #6
    I think there must be something to it. There are only 90.25 days in the first three months. That makes it one of the shortest three month periods on record. I think Dirac summed it up best:
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