Jaron’s Blog

Coffee Hour: Hamilton

THE GOUT:
How does the fourth of nine, son of a Hutton and an
Irishman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten
Spot in Trim, County Meath, with his uncle, only a toddler
Grow up to be a hero and a scholar?

JOHN T GRAVES:
The inventor of the tensor without a mentor
Got a lot farther by workin’ a lot harder
By bein’ a lot smarter
By bein’ a self-starter
By thirteen, that many languages he had garnered

ZEBRAH COLBURN:
And every day while countrymen were starvin’ and fightin’
Away across the sea, he struggled and kept his guard up
Inside, he was longing for something to be a part of
The brother was ready to prove, think, compute, or argue

PETER GUTHRIE TAIT:
Then Zerah Colburn came, bested him in number games
Our man saw his pride drip, drippin’ down the drain
Put a pencil to his temple, connected it to his brain
And he studied more mathematics, all this knowledge that he gained

GOUT:
Well the word got around, they said, “This kid is the shit, see!”
Took up a collection just to send him to Trinity
“Get your education, don’t forget to get physicsy,
The world’s gonna know your name! What could it be?”

WILLIAM ROWAN HAMILTON:
William Rowan Hamilton
My name is William Rowan Hamilton
And there’s a million things I haven’t done
But just you wait, just you wait

HELEN MARIA BAYLY:
When he was twenty, his theory lit, published it, called “Caustics”
Two years later, see Will expanding to a tome, exhaustive
Half-bored, thinkin’ about optics
The method slick

COMPANY:
And it wouldn’t be long til it changed mechanics

JOHN BRINKLEY and (COMPANY):
Thought about a function, a function just of space and time
Left him with a first-order PDE to satisfy
A voice saying “(Will) this will apply to so much else”
He started retreatin’ and rewritin’ every treatise on the shelf

GOUT and (COMPANY):
There would’ve been nothin’ left to do
For someone less astute
He would’ve just stopped at first repute
A leech on the institution
Started workin’, became a professor at just twenty two
Provin’ theorems everywhere in algebra and graph theory too
(Varyin’) action to solve problems of every kind
(Scratchin’) the quaternion algebra into some bridge side (oooh)
The British Association met in Dublin
A knighthood for this intelligent man

COMPANY and (HAMILTON):
A knighthood for this intelligent man (Just you wait)
A knighthood for this intelligent man (Just you wait)
A knighthood for this intelligent man

WOMEN:
A knighthood
MEN:
Knighthood!

HAMILTON:
Just you wait

COMPANY and (COMPANY):
William Rowan Hamilton (William Rowan Hamilton)
We are waiting in the wings for you (waiting in the wings for you)
You could never back down
You never learned to take your time
Oh, William Rowan Hamilton (William Rowan Hamilton)
When Ireland sings for you
Will they know what you overthought?
Will they know you rewrote the game?
Physics will never be the same, oh

GOUT and (COMPANY):
A plaque is on the bridge-side now, see if you can spot it
(Just you wait)
Another physicist comin’ up from a misfit
(Just you wait)
Lagrange got almost all his rep, but nobody forgot him

ZERAH COLBURN:
I fought with him

PETER GUTHRIE TAIT:
Me? I learned from him

JOHN BRINKLEY:
Me? I trusted him

HELEN MARIA BAYLY, CATHERINE DISNEY:
Me? I loved him

GOUT:
And me? I’m the damn fool that killed him

COMPANY:
There’s a million things I haven’t done
But just you wait

GOUT:
What’s your name, man?

HAMILTON & COMPANY:
William Rowan Hamilton!