Sonya Corvin-Krukovsky KovalevskyKovalevskaya_1.jpg

By:KatieBjorhus


Sonya Krukovsky was born in Moscow, Russia, in 1850. Sonya Krukovskys' father was part of the Russian Army. Her mother was German. Sonya Krukovsky had old family members who were great mathematicians. Krukovsky grew up, being around math. Mikhail Ostrogradsky, a well known mathematician, lecture notes were used as wallpaper in a room, in the Krukovskys' house. Sonya Krukovsky would study them all the time, teaching herself, at a young age, about Calculus.

"I began to feel an attraction for my mathematics so intense that I started to neglect my other studies." Sonya Krukovsky said. (http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/Biographies/Kovalevskaya.html) When Sonya Krukovsky was fourteen, she taught herself trigonometry, so she could learn a section in a physics book. Her neighbor, Professor Tyrtov wrote the physics book himself. Professor Tyrtov was so impressed with her talent, he tried to persuade Sonya Krukovskys' father to move to St. Petersburg, so she could get a better education. After Sonya Kruvosky graduated from high school, she wanted to continue to go onto college. But, the only universities that allowed women were in Switzerland, and she was not allowed to travel by herself, without being married. September 1868, at the age of 18, she married Vladimir Kovalevsky. A couple months after their marriage, they moved to Heidelberg, Switzerland, so that Sonya could get her education. Everyone was so amazed by all her talent. Soon, her and Vladimir Kovalevsky gave birth to a little girl, but Sonya Kovalevsky got right back to her mathematics very quickly.

Sonya Kovalevsky wanted to study for Karl Weierstrass, at the University of Berlin. Karl Weierstrass was one of the most famous mathematicians at the time. He soon found out that she was a genius. All though the school didn't allow girls to be taught, he tutored her privately. Sonya Kovalevsky had written four papers by the end of the tutoring by Karl Weierstrass. One of them, she was earned a degree. One of her papers, "On the Theory of Partial Differential Equations," was shown in Crelle's journal, a mathematicians journal. It was a honor for Sonya Kovalevsky.

Although Kovalevsky got awarded an doctorate, she still was not able to get a job for the profession she worked so hard for. In 1883 Kovalevskys' husband committed suicide, because he was overwhelmed with all the debt he owed. After Vladimir Kovalevsky died, Sonya Krukovsky Kovalevsky turned her sorrow into stronger passion for mathematics. She got offered a job at the University of Stockholm, as a lecturer for mathematics. Like magic, her bad luck turned good. She was made 'Chair of Mechanics", in 1885. She helped write a play with her friend, Anna Leffler, called, "The Struggle for Happiness." She also had her time in the spot light, when she was offered a job as editor to a mathematicians magazine. Then later, when she finished her very own paper on crystals.

When Kovalevsky was thirty seven, her sister, Anya Krukovsky died. They had been very close. Kovalevsky soon won "her greatest personal triumph", and later won a contest by the French Academy of Science, after she wrote a paper called, "On the Rotation of a Solid Body about a Fixed Point" in 1888, a year after her sister had passed away. In her paper, she had talked about the unsymmetrical body, and how the center of the mass in the body, is not an axis. Sonya Kovalevsky had been awarded about 3,000-5,000 francs, for this paper.


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Sonya Kovalevsky met another man, Maxim Kovalevsky, a distant relative to her husband who had passed away. They had a relationship, when they both wanted to get married, neither of them were ready to give up their professions. So, when Maxim Kovalevsky asked her to marry him, but, she said no. They split up, and Sonya Kovalevsky stayed in France, while she grew into another depression. To keep her busy, she started to write again, and wrote "Recollections of Childhood." Sonya Kovalevsky traveled back to Stockholm, but she was still very upset because of the split between her and Maxim Kovalevsky. She still was very depressed, and she became sick with pneumonia. Sonya Kovalevsky died October 10, 1891, at the age of 41.


Sonya Kovalevsky was not only known for her mathematics, but for her writing, too. She was a wonderful poet. She once said, " It is impossible to be a mathematician without being a poet in soul." (http://womenshistory.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Quotations/Kovalevskaya.html) . Whenever she would go into a depression, she would write her feelings. After her husband, and sister died, other then mathematics, she wrote to keep her going. She started to write books like, "A Nihilist Girl", and she would also write memoirs.

Sonya Kovalevsky had many more awards, she earned. Like, the Swedish Academy of Sciences award, she was given in 1889, at the age of 39. She also was also the first women to be appointed to a chair, a person in a high position, in a university. That year, she was also awarded Russian Academy of Sciences. (http://womenshistory.about.com/library/bio/blbio_kovalevskaya.htm). Before she died, she had only published ten of her many papers.

Sonya Kovalevsky was very involved with mathematics. She was involved with partial differential equations. She was also involved with integrals, which is putting only integers as coefficients in equations. Also, she studied Saturn's Rings. In 1888, Kovalevsky won the Bordin prize of the French Academy of Science for the paper she wrote on, the rotation of a solid body about a fixed point. Which was also named "Kovalevskaya Top". A top is a certain amount of material, that is symmetrical about an axis and terminates in a sharp point. (http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/physics/Top.html). The two points of important moments in inertiaor equal, and then the third one is doubled. The equation will look like A=B=2C. The amount of inertia will equal out. (http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/physics/KovalevskayaTop.html)

One thing I find interesting about Sonya Kovalevsky is that she is very weak at the multiplication table.(http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/Biographies/Kovalevskaya.html). She was given a job as a math teacher to ele-

Sonia_Kovalevsky.gifmentary school girls. This is something I would have never even imagined of. I wouldn't think that a math genius would be weak at the basic mathematics that people will learn in third grade. It's very surprising for me.