Percival Lawrence Lowell
(March 13, 1855 – November 12, 1916) was a businessman, author, mathematician, and astronomer
who fueled speculation that there were canals
, founded the Lowell Observatory
, and formed the beginning of the effort that led to the discovery of Pluto
14 years after his death. The choice of the name Pluto and its symbol were partly influenced by his initials PL.
Percival Lowell, a descendant of the Boston Lowell family, was the brother of A. Lawrence, president of Harvard University, and Amy, an imagist poet, critic, and publisher. Percival graduated from the Noble and Greenough School in 1872 and Harvard University in 1876 with distinction in mathematics. At his college graduation, he gave a speech, considered very advanced for its time, on the "Nebular Hypothesis." He was later awarded honorary degrees from Amherst College and Clark University.