János Bolyai was one of the greatest personalities in the history of mathematics. He broke new grounds in science: the creation of Non-Euclidian geometry revolutionized geometry and the theory of physics and replaced Newtonian theories about the world.
He was born in Kolozsvár, on 15 December, 1802. He was brought up in Marosvásárhely and attended the Protestant College. He showed a great interest in mathematics as a child. However, due to the limited financial possibilities of the family he couldn’t attend the University of Göttingen; instead, he went to the Military Academy of Vienna. The military career was a burden to him. He entered the army engineering corps and was sent to Temesvár, Arad and then to Olmütz; then, at the age of 30, he retired and moved home to Marosvásárhely. He lived a retiring life here and on his estate in Domáld, which the family had inherited from Farkas Bolyai’s mother.
From a young age, János Bolyai was interested by the unsolved problems of mathematics, most of all the 9th axiom of Euclid, the Postulate of the Parallels. With hard work, he developed Non-Euclidian Geometry as early as in 1823. He wrote down his findings in his work entitled Scientia Spatii, which was only published in 1832, as an appendix to his father’s book Tentamen. One of the greatest achievements of the age, it still didn’t bring any change in Bolyai’s life. His name remained unknown for the world of science.
The Teleki-Bolyai library keeps about 13,000 pages of his manuscripts, most of which are his philosophical work Tan (Teachings). His writer intended it as a comprehensive scientific work. Following the units on natural sciences and arts, the chapter entitled Üdvtan (Escatology) was meant to teach mankind the way to universal bliss.
He died on 27 January, 1860. In 1911, his earthly remains were moved next to his father’s.