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Robert Stawell BALL (1840-1913)

Known As
Sir R Ball
Biographical Details

Sir Robert Stawell Ball (1840-1913) was an Irish astronomer who delivered a lecture at Evesham in 1895 which was attended by Julius and Eugénie Sladden and their son, Arthur.

Robert Ball was born in Dublin on 1st July 1840, the son of naturalist Robert Ball and his wife, Amelia Gresley (née Hellicar).  His early working career was spent in Dublin.  He founded the screw theory which is the algebraic calculation of pairs of vectors, such as forces and moments or angular and linear velocity, that arise in the kinematics and dynamics of rigid bodies.  In 1892 he was appointed Professor of Astonomy and Geometry at The University of Cambridge and at the same time becoming director of the Cambridge Observatory.  He died at Cambridge on 25th November 1913.

Ball became celebrated for his popular lectures on science. He gave an estimated 2,500 lectures between 1875 and 1910 in towns and cities across Britain and Ireland.  A lengthy report in The Evesham Standard of 12th October 1895 began:

The first of the four lectures which it was arranged should be delivered at Evesham in connection with the Gilchrist Educational Trust was given on Monday night when the eminent professor of astronomy, Sir Robert S Ball, LLD, FRS, visited the town.  The Town Hall was crowded, many having to be turned away.  The demand for tickets for a week before had been greater than the supply, and it was said that in the last few days eighteen pence and two shillings were being offered for the penny cards of admission, and as much as five shillings for tickets for the four lectures.  The arrangements were excellently carried out.  The lecture itself was followed with the deepest interest.

The Sladdens were fortunate in being able to purchase tickets for this event.

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