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Unformatted text preview: aveling off into space in a straight line;
• T he f irst t o posit t hat a n electrical charge would increase in mass as its
velocity increases; a n a nticipation of an aspect of Einstein's special theory of
relativity.7 He also forecast t he possibility of superconductivity.
Heaviside was a selfmade, selfeducated m an w ith only a n e lementary school
education, w ho eventually became a pragmatically successful mathematical physicist. He b egan his career as a t elegrapher, b ut increasing deafness forced him to 6.2 Some Properties of t he Laplace Transform 381 r etire a t t he age of 24. He t hen devoted himself t o t he s tudy of electricity. His
creative work was disdained by many professional mathematicians because of his
lack of formal education a nd his unorthodox methods.
Heaviside's misfortune was t hat he was criticized b oth by mathematicians, who
faulted him for lack of rigor, a nd by men of practice, who faulted him for using t oo
m uch mathematics a nd t hereby confusing students. Many mathematicians, trying
t o find solutions t o t he distortionless transmission line, failed because no rigorous
tools were available a t t he time. Heaviside succeeded because he used mathematics
not with rigor, b ut w ith insight a nd i ntuition. Using his muchmaligned operational
method. Heaviside successfully attacked problems t hat t he rigid mathematicians
could n ot solve: problems such as t he flow of h eat in a b ody of spatially varying
conductivity. Heaviside brilliantly used this method in 1895 t o d emonstrate a fatal
flaw in Lord Kelvin's determination of t he geological age of t he e arth by secular
cooling; he used t he s ame flow of heat theory as for his cable analysis. Yet t he
m athematicians of the Royal Society remained unmoved a nd were not t he least
impressed by the fact t hat Heaviside had found t he answer to problems no one
else could solve. Many mathematicians who examined his work dismissed i t w ith
contempt, asserting t hat his methods were either complete nonsense or a rehash of
alreadyknown ideas. 5
Sir William Preece, t he chief engineer of t he B ritish P ost Office, a savage critic
of Heaviside, ridiculed Heaviside's work as too theoretical and, therefore, leading t o
faulty conclusions. Heaviside's work on transmission lines a nd loading was dismissed
by t he B ritish P ost Office; this work might have remained hidden, had not Lord
Kelvin himself publicly expressed admiration for it. 5
Heaviside's operational calculus may be formally inaccurate, b ut in fact it anticipated t he c urrent operational methods developed in more recent years. s Although
his method was not fully understood, it provided correct results. When Heaviside
was attacked for t he vague meaning of his operational calculus, his pragmatic reply
was, "Shall I refuse my dinner because I do not fully u nderstand t he process of
digestion ?"
Heaviside lived as a bachelor hermit, often in nearsqualid conditions, a nd died
largely unnoticed, in poverty. His life demonstrates the arrogance a nd snobbishness of t he intellectual establishment, which does n ot respect creativity unless it is
presented in t...
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This note was uploaded on 04/14/2013 for the course ENG 350 taught by Professor Bayliss during the Spring '13 term at Northwestern.
 Spring '13
 Bayliss
 Signal Processing, The Land

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