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Colburn, Zerah

COLBURN, ZERAH (1804-1840), American mathematical prodigy, was born at Cabot, Vermont, on the 1st of September 1804. At a very early age he developed remarkable powers of calculating with extreme rapidity, and in 1810 his father began to exhibit him. As a performing prodigy he visited Great Britain and France. From 1816 to 1819 he studied in Westminster school, London. After the death of his father in 1824 he returned to America, and from 1825 to 1834 he was a Methodist preacher. As he grew older his extraordinary calculating powers diminished. From 1835 until his death, on the 2nd of March 1840, he was professor of languages at the Norwich University in Vermont. He published a Memoir of his life in 1833.

His nephew, also named Zerah Colburn (1832-1870), was a well-known mechanical engineer; the editor successively of the Railroad Advocate, in New York, The Engineer, in London, and Engineering, in London; and the author of a work entitled The Locomotive Engine (1851).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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