Maths Statistics Coursework

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Maths Statistics Coursework Sample

The date of the reading of a paper before an academy or scientific society is sometimes considered as the date of publication, but this is very misleading. For the reading may never have taken place, and even if it took place, it was in all probability fragmentary and incomplete, and there is nothing to guarantee that the paper actually published a year or many years later is identical with the one which was 'read.' On the contrary, the chances are that the author improved his paper in the meanwhile by omission or commission, by various changes or interpolations, and he may have availed himself of new discoveries almost until the eleventh hour.

A good illustration of this is provided by Hamilton's memoirs on the mathematical development of the wave theory of light, which appeared from 1827 to 1833 in the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy. The last of these papers, 'read' before the Academy in October, 1832, contained his famous prediction of conical refraction. This was verified experimentally by Lloyd on December 14, and his verification was reported to the Academy on January 28, 1833. Hamilton's and Lloyd's memoirs were published in the same number of the Transactions in the summer of 1833. Now Hamilton's memoir, assumedly 'read in October, 1832,' contains the law of conical polarization subsequently discovered by Lloyd, without reference to him. This was done without intention to deceive; the facts were so well known to other members of the Academy that definite acknowledgments seemed unnecessary. However, on the basis of Hamilton's publication 'read in October, 1832' the priority of the discovery of the law of conical polarization might be ascribed by a careless historian to Hamilton, while it truly belongs to Lloyd.

This is not an exceptional case. The same sequence of events is likely to have happened more than once, and, be it noted, more often than not without dishonesty. Each scientist is naturally anxious that his paper should be up- to-date when it appears, he will correct it up to the last minute, and take advantage of his discussion of it with colleagues and of every ulterior publication as far as possible. The dates printed on the covers of periodicals are often inaccurate. Such errors are notorious to contemporaries, at least to those who trouble to compare the printed dates with the dates of reception, but the discrepancy soon ceases to be perceptible and is readily forgotten.

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