Tree of knowledge?

Tree of knowledge?

Tree of knowledge?

Not too long back I discovered the highly entertaining Mathematics Genealogy Project. You can look up lots of mathematicians, some physicists and even a few astronomers there. For example I can look up myself. If you keep clicking on the names of each person’s advisor, you finally end up with someone who did not have one or we have no clue. In case you start with my entry, you pass through Nobel laureate physicists from Harvard like John Van Vleck and Percy Bridgman. Finally you end up with Benjamin Peirce whose advisor was Nathaniel Bowditch. It seems Bowditch was a American mathematician, often credited with starting the field of modern maritime navigation.

More recently, I took a trip with my family to Washington, DC. I was especially looking forward to see the Library of Congress. I had heard much about it, but one aspect that I was not aware of was the beautifully painted ceiling. One portion had what look like various trees of knowledge. Some of them were big and famous academic families from the arts, sciences and engineering. Among them I found the small tree, or maybe a potted plant, photographed above. I could immediately associate Bowditch with Peirce, and I wanted to take a photo. It was a tight dark corner and I would not use a flash in a library. So, this is the best shot I could get.

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