Eaton Hodgkinson

Biographical Information

Name: Eaton Hodgkinson
Born on 26 February 1789 in , Cheshire, North West England, England, United Kingdom, Europe
Deceased on 18 June 1861 in , Greater Manchester, North West England, England, United Kingdom, Europe

Notes & Comments

Short biography of Eaton Hodgkinson

The offspring of a poor farmer’s family, Eaton Hodgkinson’s intelligence was luckily discovered by John Dalton, an important scientist from Manchester. Dalton taught Hodgkinson mathematics and introduced him to the works of Euler, Lagrange and the Bernoullis. Hodgkinson’s research into beams began in the early 1820s and the carefully recorded, comprehensive results were published as early as 1824 [Hodgkinson, 1824]. He gained even more recognition with his essay on the optimum form of beams [Hodgkinson, 1830]. By theoretical and experimental means, Hodgkinson showed that the cross-section of cast iron beams should be asymmetric and that the area of the tension zone must be about six times that of the compression zone. In 1840 he published the results of his buckling tests on cast- and wrought-iron circular columns and devised an empirical buckling formula; in doing so, he discovered two modes of failure:flexural (buckling) and fracture [Nowak, 1981, pp. 61–70]. His research into the optimisation of beams was carried out with the leading ironwork engineer of his time – William Fairbairn, who made use of the results in the building of the Conway and Britannia Bridges (1848–49). In his capacity as professor of mechanical engineering at University College, London, Hodgkinson was elected to the Royal Society and became vice-president of the Manchester Society. Hodgkinson’s work made a major contribution to the empirical nature of the theory of structures during its constitution phase.

Main contributions to structural analysis:

On the Transverse Strain and Strength of Materials [1824]; Theoretical and Experimental Researches to Ascertain the strength and best forms of Iron beams [1830]; On the strength of pillars of cast iron and other materials [1840]; Experimental researches of the Strength and other properties of cast iron [1846] 

Source: Kurrer, Karl-Eugen The History of the Theory of Structures, Wilhelm Ernst & Sohn Verlag für Architektur und technische Wissenschaften GmbH, Berlin (Deutschland), ISBN 3-433-01838-3, 2008; p. 737


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