A Misfortunate Teenager Genius: Evariste Galois
Have you ever heard of a teen, who was not only a revolutionary but has also revolutionized math in one sense. A Teenager who participated actively in the politics as well as in math. Just near the age of 18, he made fundamental discoveries in the theory of polynomial equations , which subsequently resulted into Galois theory, and considered as great contribution in mathematics. The teenager who contributed to math at such a young stage, unfortunately died at the age of 20. He was French mathematician and political revolutionary, born in the year 25 October 1811 and died on 31.05.1832.
When I was about 11 or 11 years old, I fallen in love with quest for knowledge. Stories pertaining to science, biology, chemistry also history , geography, religion, philosophy , spirituality etc were extremely fascinating to me. My school syllabus was not sufficient enough for appease my desire to know as much as I could. Naturally I was always in search of books.
One fortunate day one my friend given me one magazine named VIGYAN PRAGATI. I instantly fallen in love with that as it was really appeasing my quest to a great extent. By passage of time I also started reading many other magazines like AVISHKAR, SCIENCE REPORTER etc. I read many goods articles and scholarly essays on various aspect of science. But only story which struck my mind was story of A Teenager Mathematician , named Evariste Galois, published in VIGYAN PRAGATI. Right from my childhood he remain a great source of inspiration. If a teenager could so so many things in his life, why could not I? But said part of this story is that hardly any body in India have any knowledge about this teenage mathematician, whose story is sufficient enough to inspire many teenagers in India.
His unparalleled story of extra ordinary intelligence, failure and post death success, courage but also unnecessary misadventure have always been indebted to my soul. The most misfortunate part of his life is death his contribution to mathematics was never recognised in his life. His research was declined and failed by then mathematician. But he remain dedicated in his research irrespective of his unsuccess and off course his persistence resulted into recognition of his work, post death. Such was a genius he was. I always felt a burden on me to bring his story to all Now I am unburdening myself by putting his story to my country man.
He was born in the year 25.10.1811 at Bourg-la-Reine of then French Empire. His father Nicolas-Gabriel Galois was a republican and was politically active those days. He was also appointed as Mayor of his village when Evariste was merely 3 year old. His father’s activity in those days politics made him politically interested since his early days. His mother Adélaïde-Marie was daughter of a jurist and having avid appetite for latin and classic literature. There is famous quotation from one of Greatest Indian Freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose that if someone wants his nation to be great, great mothers are required. Similar was the case of Evariste. He earlier education remain in the close guidance of his learned mother until he was 12 years old.
At the age of 14 years he started showing his keen interest in mathematics. It is a time when mind of a teenager remain occupied with fanciful story of unrealistic dream, his mind was moving on just a different track. He started reading research papers of well known mathematician just like novel in one go. In the 1828, when he was still a teenager, tried to clear the most premier institutions of France on those days namely École Polytechnique, but he was failed. He was left with no other option but take admission in much inferior institution, where he shown his extra ordinary merit to few of his professors.
In coming year i.e. in the year 1829, one major tragedy happened in his life and that was death of his father. Because of great conflict, which occurred between his father and the then priest of his village, his father committed suicide. What could be effect of death of father on a teenager, it natural, but emotional devastation. Same was with the case of Evariste. Untimely death of his father, affected him badly. He could not enjoy the right of unfettered imagination, which normally a teenager mind is entitled to.
Irrespective of tragic incidence in his life, he continued reflecting his intelligence in his institutions. At times professors could not comprehend his ideas. Once examiner observed about him that Evariste was a student of great merit, having extra ordinary orientation for research. And his examiner was right. He kept on working on his research works. Soon he sent his research works to the Academy of Sciences. Augustin-Louis Cauchy, but we’re declined. He tried to get recognition for his work, but never got the same in his life time.
He was not only active in math but also in politics. His father’s political activities and untimely death due to conflict with village priest, made him politically aggressive. Many times he published blistering articles against the then prevailing political system in the country. He was also member of artillery of the National Guard , which was disbanded by the then Ruler, fearing that the organization might destabilize the Government.
The strangest part of his story is that he died in a duel. There was custom those days prevalent in France that if someone invite an Opponent for duel and it was accepted by the Opponent then both of them have to shoot each other standing at a considerable distance from each other. Evariste was challenged for a duel which he accepted and he was shot by the Opponent at his abdomen. The injury caused because of that shot, ultimately resulted into death.
It is not the tragic incidence of his life that has been hovering around in my mind since long, but his fight for recognition, his desire to resist, his persistence towards his goal made him my favorite.