Bell, Eric Temple, 1883-1960

Alternative names
Birth 1883-02-07
Death 1960-12-21

Biographical notes:

Bell was born in Aberdeen, came to US in 1902, became a research mathematician, and Professor of Mathematics at California Institute of Technology 1927 to retirement in 1953. He wrote popular and learned works on mathematics, and science-fiction in the 1920's and 1930s under the name of "John Taine".

From the guide to the Eric Temple Bell Manuscripts, 1883-1960, 1920s-1930s, (University of Kansas Kenneth Spencer Research Library Department of Special Collections)


Born: Feb.7,1883 in Aberdeen, Scotland Died: Dec.21,1960 in Watsonville, California, USA

The cowboys have a way of trussing up a steer or a pugnacious bronco which fixes the brute so that it can neither move nor think. This is the hog-tie, and it is what Euclid did to geometry. E.T. Bell, The Search For Truth

The Cosmic Geoids [Fantasy Publishing Co. Inc., 1949] novel + story The Crystal Horde [Fantasy, 1952] a.k.a. White Lilly [Dover, 1966] The Forbidden Garden [Fantasy, 1947] G.O.G. 666 [Fantasy, 1954] The Gold Tooth [Dutton, 1927; Burr, 1929] The Greatest Adventure [Dutton, 1929; Ace; Dover] Green Fire [Dutton, 1928; Fantasy Publishing Co. Inc., 19521 The Iron Star [Dutton, 1930; Fantasy Publishing Co. Inc., 1952; Hyperion] Seeds of Life [Fantasy, 1951; Galaxy Novel #13; Dover] The Time Stream [Buffalo, 1946; Dover; Garland, 1976] Quayle's Invention [Dutton, 1927] The Purple Sapphire [Dutton, 1924; Dover]

References: Gillispie, Charles Coulston.Dictionary of Scientific Biography.New York:Scribner,1970-1980. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online."Bell, Eric Temple".[Accessed 22 October 1999]. Broadbent, A."Eric Temple Bell". Nature 4763,1961. Reid, Constance. The Search for E.T. Bell : also known as John Taine Washington D.C.:Mathematical Association of America,1993.

From the guide to the Eric Temple Bell papers, 1918-1991, (University of California, Santa Cruz. University Library. Special Collections and Archives)


Eric Temple Bell was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1883. He came alone to the U.S. at the age of 19 and enrolled in Stanford University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1904. He continued his education at the University of Washington with a master's degree in 1908. Subsequently he moved to New York to earn his PhD at Columbia University in 1912. He returned to the West to teach mathematics at the University of Washington, where he stayed for 14 years. He came to Caltech as professor of mathematics in 1926.

Bell was a specialist in the theory of numbers. He received the prestigious Bôcher Prize from the American Mathematical Society in 1920. From 1924 to 1927 he served on the Society's council and in 1926 became its vice president. In 1930 he served as vice president of the Physical Sciences Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and from 1931 to 1933 was president of the Mathematical Association of America. In 1938 he received the Gold Medal of the California Commonwealth Club for his mathematical writings. He was the author of almost 300 mathematical papers, four advanced and ten popular books on mathematics, among the latter the highly regarded Men of Mathematics (1937). His technical books include Algebraic Arithmetic (1927) and The Development of Mathematics (1940). Bell was a member of a number of learned societies, including the American Philosophical Society and the National Academy of Sciences.

Under the pseudonym John Taine, Bell authored 13 science fiction novels and more science fiction magazine stories, most written between the years 1920 and 1940. A writer for the Caltech magazine Engineering and Science wrote: "Bell's science fiction is distinguished by its violence. It abounds in overwhelming catastrophes of nature, prehistoric reptilian monsters, men turned into brute beasts and men turned into masses of fungoid growth." Bell also wrote plays, poetry, and works of non-fiction.

Eric Temple Bell died in Pasadena, California, on December 21, 1960.

From the guide to the Eric Temple Bell Papers, 1919-1955, (California Institute of Technology. Caltech Archives)


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  • Number theory
  • Mathematics--Philosophy
  • Science fiction
  • Mathematics--History
  • Science--Philosophy
  • Mathematicians
  • Algebraic fields
  • Mathematics


  • Mathematicians


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