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Joseph Larmor
Born (1857-07-11)11 July 1857
Magheragall, "County Antrim, Ireland, "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Died 19 May 1942(1942-05-19) (aged 84)
"Holywood, "County Down, "Northern Ireland[1]
Alma mater "Royal Belfast Academical Institution
"Queen's University Belfast
"St John's College, Cambridge
Known for "Larmor precession
"Larmor radius
Larmor's theorem
"Larmor formula
"Relativity of simultaneity
Awards "Smith's Prize (1880)
"Senior Wrangler (1880)
"Fellow of the Royal Society (1892)
"Adams Prize (1898)
"Lucasian Professor of Mathematics (1903)
"De Morgan Medal (1914)
"Royal Medal (1915)
"Copley Medal (1921)
Scientific career
Fields "Physics
Institutions "St John's College, Cambridge
"Queen's College, Galway
"Doctoral advisor "Edward Routh
Doctoral students "Kwan-ichi Terazawa

Sir Joseph Larmor "FRS "FRSE DCL LLD[2] (11 July 1857 – 19 May 1942) was a "Northern Irish[3] "physicist and mathematician who made innovations in the understanding of electricity, "dynamics, "thermodynamics, and the electron theory of matter. His most influential work was Aether and Matter, a theoretical physics book published in 1900.



He was born in Magheragall in "County Antrim the son of Hugh Larmor, a "Belfast shopkeeper and his wife, Anna Wright.[4] He was educated at the "Royal Belfast Academical Institution, then studied Mathematics at "Queen's University Belfast under "John Purser, and "St John's College, Cambridge where he was "Senior Wrangler.[5] After teaching physics for a few years at "Queen's College, Galway, he accepted a lectureship in mathematics at Cambridge in 1885. In 1892 he was elected a Fellow of the "Royal Society of London and was made an Honorary Fellow of the "Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1910.[6]

In 1903 he was appointed "Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, a post he retained until his retirement in 1932. He never married.

Larmor proposed that the "aether could be represented as a "homogeneous "fluid medium which was perfectly "incompressible and "elastic. Larmor believed the aether was separate from matter. He united "Lord Kelvin's model of spinning "gyrostats (see "Vortex theory of the atom) with this "theory.

Parallel to the development of "Lorentz ether theory, Larmor published the "Lorentz transformations in the "Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in 1897 some two years before "Hendrik Lorentz (1899, 1904) and eight years before "Albert Einstein (1905). Larmor however did not possess the correct velocity transformations, which include the addition of velocities law, which were later discovered by "Henri Poincaré. Larmor predicted the "phenomenon of "time dilation, at least for orbiting electrons, and verified that the "FitzGerald–Lorentz contraction ("length contraction) should occur for bodies whose atoms were held together by electromagnetic forces. In his book Aether and Matter (1900), he again presented the Lorentz transformations, time dilation and length contraction (treating these as dynamic rather than "kinematic effects). Larmor opposed "Albert Einstein's "theory of relativity, though he supported it for a short time. Larmor rejected both the "curvature of space and the special theory of relativity, to the extent that he claimed that an absolute time was essential to astronomy (Larmor 1924, 1927).

Larmor held that "matter consisted of "particles moving in the aether. Larmor believed the source of "electric charge was a "particle" (which as early as 1894 he was referring to as the "electron). Thus, in what was apparently the first specific prediction of "time dilation, he wrote "... individual electrons describe corresponding parts of their orbits in times shorter for the [rest] system in the ratio (1 – v2/c2)1/2" (Larmor 1897). Larmor held that the flow of charged particles constitutes the "current of "conduction (but was not part of the "atom). Larmor calculated the rate of energy "radiation from an "accelerating electron. Larmor explained the splitting of the "spectral lines in a "magnetic field by the "oscillation of electrons.

He was knighted by King "Edward VII in 1909.

In 1919, Larmor proposed "sunspots are "self-regenerative "dynamo action on the "Sun's surface.

Motivated by his strong opposition to "Home Rule for Ireland, in February 1911 Larmor ran for and was elected as Member of Parliament for "Cambridge University (UK Parliament constituency) with the "Liberal Unionist party. He remained in parliament until the "1922 general election, at which point the Irish question had been settled. Upon his retirement from Cambridge in 1932 Larmor moved back to "County Down in Northern Ireland.

He received the honorary "Doctor of Laws (LL.D) from the "University of Glasgow in June 1901.[7] He was awarded the "Poncelet Prize for 1918 by the "French Academy of Sciences.[8] Larmor was a Plenary Speaker in 1920 at the "ICM at Strasbourg[9][10] and an Invited Speaker at the ICM in 1924 in Toronto and at the ICM in 1928 in Bologna.

He died in "Holywood, County Down on 19 May 1942.[11]


Larmor edited the collected works of "George Stokes, "James Thomson and "William Thomson.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "O'Connor, John J.; "Robertson, Edmund F., "Joseph Larmor", "MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, "University of St Andrews .
  2. ^ "Eddington, A. S. (1942). "Joseph Larmor. 1857-1942". "Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 4 (11): 197–207. "doi:10.1098/rsbm.1942.0016. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ BIOGRAPHICAL INDEX OF FORMER FELLOWS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH 1783 – 2002 (PDF). "The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. "ISBN "0 902 198 84 X. 
  5. ^ "Larmor, Joseph (LRMR876J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  6. ^ BIOGRAPHICAL INDEX OF FORMER FELLOWS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH 1783 – 2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. "ISBN "0 902 198 84 X. 
  7. ^ "Glasgow University jubilee". The Times (36481). London. 14 June 1901. p. 10. 
  8. ^ "Prize Awards of the Paris Academy of Sciences for 1918". Nature. 102 (2565): 334–335. 26 December 1918. "Bibcode:1918Natur.102R.334.. "doi:10.1038/102334b0. 
  9. ^ "Questions in physical indetermination by Joseph Larmor" (PDF). Compte rendu du Congrès international des mathématiciens tenu à Strasbourg du 22 au 30 Septembre 1920. 1921. pp. 3–40. 
  10. ^ "The International Congress of Mathematicians". Nature. 106 (2658): 196–197. 7 October 1920.  In his plenary address, Larmor advocated the aether theory as opposed to Einstein's general theory of relativity.
  11. ^ BIOGRAPHICAL INDEX OF FORMER FELLOWS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH 1783 – 2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. "ISBN "0 902 198 84 X. 
  12. ^ "Gronwall, T. H. (1930). "Review: Mathematical and Physical Papers, by Sir Joseph Larmor" (PDF). Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 36 (7): 470–471. "doi:10.1090/s0002-9904-1930-04975-7. 
  13. ^ "Page, Leigh (1938). "Review: Origins of Clerk Maxwell's Electric Ideas as Described in Familiar Letters to William Thomson, by Sir Joseph Larmor" (PDF). Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 44 (5): 320. "doi:10.1090/s0002-9904-1938-06738-9. 

Further reading[edit]

"Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
"Samuel Henry Butcher
"John Frederick Peel Rawlinson
Member of Parliament for "Cambridge University
"1911 – "1922
With: "John Frederick Peel Rawlinson
Succeeded by
"James Ramsay Montagu Butler
"John Frederick Peel Rawlinson
) )