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Think You Have a Hot Math Professor?

In the mid-1800s, James Hamilton was a Math Professor at the University of Nashville (TN). In many senses, he was a "hot" math professor!

So esteemed as a mathematician and professor, a monument was erected in his honor at the Mt. Olivet Cemetary. And, the New Jersey Historical Society (1909) said he was the "ablest mathematician... ever had in Tennessee."

Now the unusual "hotness": On January 5, 1835, Professor Hamilton, while walking home from the university, saw that the thermometer outside his house read 8 degrees. Suddenly, he felt a sharp pain with a sensation of heat at one spot on his left thigh.

Looking down, he saw a bright flame, several inches high and the diameter of a dime, rising from the spot.

Professor Hamilton tried to slap the flame out with his hand, but was unsuccessful. Realizing that cutting off the oxygen supply should make the flame go out, he cupped his hands over the flame, and saved himself.

Yet, feeling a deep pain in his thigh, he went into his house to examine his wound. It resembled a 3" x 1" abrasion.

The odd thing: Though the flame had burned a hole in his long underwear, the area around the hole was not singed or scorched in any way...plus his pants were not burned at all, even though he had seen the flame outside his pants.

A physician treated the wound from "spontaneous combustion," but it took an unusually long time to heal and his muscles remained sore for even longer.

Otherwise, Hamilton was in excellent health, until he died during an epidemic of cholera in 1849.

So, remember Professor James Hamilton, perhaps the Hottest of all mathematics professors!

Source: V.Gaddis's & M. Harrison's Mysteries of the Unexplained (1982)