Helmholtz's attention was directed to the subjects to be discussed in this paper while very young. Even while attending the gymnasium and reading Cicero and Virgil, for which he had little taste, Helmholtz was pondering on various problems in optics not met with in text-books, and which served as a basis some years later for the construction of the ophthalmoscope. The mathematics of physical problems always came easy to him, not that he seems to have had any special love for pure mathematics for its own sake, but only as a means of solving the questions which interested him. His mathematical ability was of a very high order, and this fact seems all the more remarkable when it is noted that he never had any systematic training in this branch of science, as have most other eminent mathematical physicists. His knowledge in the more advanced departments of mathematics was acquired
GOODSPEED AW. CONTRIBUTIONS OF HELMHOLTZ TO PHYSICAL SCIENCE, ESPECIALLY WITH REFERENCE TO PHYSIOLOGICAL OPTICS, INCLUDING THE DYNAMICS OF EYEBALL MOVEMENTS AND OF ACCOMMODATION. JAMA. 1902;XXXVIII(9):562–566. doi:10.1001/jama.1902.62480090014001e
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