A HISTORY OF VECTOR ANALYSIS

Permit me to begin by telling you a little about the history of the book1 on which this talk2 is based. It will help you understand why I am so delighted to be presenting this talk. On the very day thirty-five years ago when my History of Vector Analysis was published, a good friend with the very best intentions helped me put the book in perspective by innocently asking: “Who was Vector?” That question might well have been translated into another: “Why would any sane person be interested in writing such a book?” Moreover, a few months later, one of my students recounted that while standing in the corridor of the Notre Dame Library, he overheard a person expressing utter astonishment and was staring at the title of a book on display in one of the cases. The person was pointing at my book, and asking with amazement: “Who would write a book about that?” It is interesting that the person who asked “Who was Vector?” was trained in the humanities, whereas the person in the library was a graduate student in physics. My student talked to the person in the library, informing him he knew the author and that I appeared to be reasonably sane. These two events may suggest why my next book was a book on the history of ideas of extraterrestrial intelligent life.

A History of Vector Analysis

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