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11 His three sons were a little older than the Thomson boys, and they went boating together. ) together joined the Dublin office of a firm of civil engineers. Typically, Professor James Thomson had made careful enquiries before arranging for this, their first employment. Clearly, with such family ties, the Thomson boys would have received more than the usual attention from the professors who taught them; but it is also clear that their talent was such that they required no special treatment.

The German August Crelle, then visiting Paris, immediately offered to republish the essay in his Journal für die Reine und Angewandte Mathematik. 57 Back in Cambridge, William Thomson took over the editorship of the Cambridge Mathematical Journal from R. L. Ellis, who had kept it going in the year following D. F. Gregory’s death. He soon enlisted George Gabriel Stokes to join him in writing a series of didactic ‘Notes on Hydrodynamics’ that were a useful aid to students at a time when no adequate textbook existed.

James Thomson had little formal schooling, receiving his early education at home from his elder sisters, and at a day school run by the Reverend Samuel Edgar. A dilapidated copy of Bonnycastle’s Arithmetic gave him his first taste for mathematics. With Edgar, he studied mathematics and classics in preparation for entering Glasgow University. This he did in 1810 at the age of 24. The academic session began on 1 November and ended on 30 April, when most students returned home to work to help finance their studies.

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