His is a name we might not all be familiar with, yet the life and work of George Boole has had a profound impact on our daily lives. Now, some 200 years after his birth, he is to be recognised and honoured in a new documentary celebrating his contribution to technology and computing.
The documentary, simply called The Genius of George Boole, is to be premiered during the Frequency 2015 festival on Sunday 25th October – a few days before the 200th anniversary of Boole’s birth. Also to be unveiled in November is a special plaque in his honour by the Stonebow on Lincoln’s High Street.
Best known for his works The Mathematical Analysis of Logic and An Investigation of the Laws of Thought, his algebra, now cooled Boolean algebra, forms the foundation for today’s computer languages.
The documentary is narrated by Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons and brings together global experts to discuss Boole’s life and the importance his legacy has on today’s society. It will be premiered at The Collection during the Frequency 2015 Festival, which is a culmination of joint work by the University of Lincoln and Threshold Studios.
There will also be a special exhibition at Lincoln Cathedral called The Life and Legacy of George Boole. Bringing together his research papers and other documents from the Royal Society. The exhibition has been conceived and created through a partnership between the University of Lincoln and the University of Cork.
Canon Dr Mark Hocknull, Chancellor of Lincoln and Visiting Senior Fellow in History of Science said that: “In his lifetime, George Boole was a prominent and much-loved citizen of Lincoln who contributed a great deal to the life of the city. It’s a real joy that in his bicentenary year this film will bring Boole back to his home city. He is still relatively unknown, even here, and perhaps this screening will help to give Boole the recognition he deserves.”
Uzma Johal, co-director of Frequency 15 and Threshold Studios comments: “GeorgeBoole’s work underpins our entire digital culture, so we are over the moon to be presenting the UK premiere of this important and timely film at a digital arts festival in his home city of Lincoln. Boole deserves far greater recognition, and Frequency is committed to reaching and engaging as wide an audience as possible, so it feels like the perfect opportunity to celebrate his legacy.”
Who Was George Boole?
Born on Pottergate, Lincoln in 1815, George Boole took lessons on the art of trade from his father, John Boole, but received little academic teaching following primary school. Self-taught in modern languages Bool became the chief income earner at the age of sixteen for his parents and three younger siblings.
George Boole’s interest in mathematics and mechanics began when he joined Lincoln’s Mechanics Institute. The Reverend George Stevens Dickson of St. Swithin’s church gave Boole mathematics textbooks to help his curiosity.
Over the course of a few years Boole became well-known local figure and took part in numerous campaigns in the city, including the campaign for ‘early closing’ which hoped to have the opening hours of retail shops controlled and scrap Sunday trading.
Through recognition of his mathematical genius, Boole was appointed as the first professor of mathematics at University College Cork (then Queen’s College, Cork). Whilst there he met his future wife, Mary Everest, and they married a few years later.
In 1864, George Boole passed away from fluid on his lungs following a fever which had been brought on by cold wet weather. Yet, it is suggested that Boole’s wife had thought that if cold wet weather had caused his illness then the cure for his condition should reflect this. She is said to have poured water over him by the bucket to aid his recuperation, yet some days later his condition worsened and he passed away on 8th December 1864.
Boole always maintained his connection with Lincoln and helped with further campaigns throughout his life. He is buried in Cork, Ireland.