Saturday, 24 February 2018

On This Day in Math - February 24

3D Lichtenberg Figures *Wik

Information is the resolution of uncertainty.
~Claude Shannon

The 55th day of the year; 55 is the largest triangular number that appears in the Fibonacci Sequence. (Is there a largest square number?)
55 is also a Kaprekar Number: 55² = 3025 and 30 + 25 = 55 (Thanks to Jim Wilder)

And speaking of 52, Everyone knows that 32 + 42 = 52, but did you know that 332 + 442 = 552 But after that, there could be no more.... right? I mean, that's just too improbable, so why is he stil l going on like this? You don't think......Nah.

55 is the only year day that is both a non-trivial base ten palindrome and also a palindrome in base four.


1582 Pope Gregory XIII promulgated his calendar reform in the papal bull Inter gravissimus (Of the gravest concern). It took effect (in Italy and some other Catholic countries) October 5, 1582 (Julian Thursday, 4 October 1582, being followed by Gregorian Friday, 15 October 1582)

1616 Inquisition qualifiers deny teaching of Heliocentric view . On February 19, 1616, the Inquisition had asked a commission of theologians, known as qualifiers, about the propositions of the heliocentric view of the universe. On February 24 the Qualifiers delivered their unanimous report: the idea that the Sun is stationary is "foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts in many places the sense of Holy Scripture..."; while the Earth's movement "receives the same judgement in philosophy and ... in regard to theological truth it is at least erroneous in faith."At a meeting of the cardinals of the Inquisition on the following day, Pope Paul V instructed Bellarmine to deliver this result to Galileo, and to order him to abandon the Copernican opinions; should Galileo resist the decree, stronger action would be taken. On February 26, Galileo was called to Bellarmine's residence, and accepted the orders. *Wik

1755 William Hogarth’s satirical print, “An Election Entertainment,” was published. It contains a Tory sign bearing the inscription “Give us our eleven days.” This refers to the fact that eleven dates were removed from the calendar when England converted to the Gregorian calendar on September 14, 1752. *VFR Image here

1772 Lagrange, in a letter to d’Alembert, called higher mathematics “decadent.” *Grabiner, Origins of Cauchy’s Rigorous Calculus, pp. 25, 185

1842 Sylvester resigned his position at the University of Virginia (after only four months), after a dispute with a student who was reading a newspaper in class. Persistent rumors that he killed the student are unfounded. *VFR

1881 Cambridge University in England allowed women to officially take university examinations and to have their names posted along with those of the male students. Previously some women were given special permission to take the Tripos Exam. One of these was Charlotte Agnes Scott, who did quite well on the exam. At the award ceremony “The man read out the names and when he came to ‘eighth,’ before he could say the name, all the undergraduates called out ‘Scott of Girton,’ and cheered tremendously, shouting her name over and over again with tremendous cheers and wavings of hats.” [Women of Mathematics. A Biobibliographic Sourcebook (1987), edited by Louise S. Grinstein and Paul J. Campbell, 194-195] *VFR

1896  Henri Becquerel read a report to the French Academy of Sciences of his investigation of the phosphorescent rays of some “double sulfate of uranium and potassium” crystals. He reported that he placed the crystals on the outside of a photographic plate wrapped in sheets of very thick black paper and exposed the whole to the sun for several hours. When he developed the photographic plate, he saw a black silhouette of the substance exposed on the negative. When he placed a coin or metal screen between the uranium crystals and the wrapped plate, he saw images of those objects on the negative. He did not yet know yet that the sun is not necessary to initiate the rays, nor did he yet realize that he had accidentally discovered radioactivity. He would learn more from a further accidental discovery on 26 Feb 1896.*TIS

1920 As part of the National Education Association’s annual meeting, 127 mathematics teachers from 20 states met in Cleveland, Ohio, for the “purpose of organizing a National Council of Mathematics Teachers.” *VFR

1931, the Fields Medal was established to recognize outstanding contributions to mathematics. It was conceived since there was no Nobel Prize for mathematicians. Although John Charles Fields probably thought of the medal at some earlier time, the first recorded mention of it was made on 24 Feb 1931 in minutes of a committee meeting. He was chairman of the Committee of the International Congress which had been set up by the University of Toronto to organize the 1924 Congress in Toronto. After the event, Fields proposed that income of $2,500 remaining from that convention would be designated for two medals to be awarded at future International Mathematical Congresses. In 1936, the first awards were made in Oslo.*TIS

In 1968, Nature carried the announcement of the discovery of a pulsar (a pulsating radio source). The first pulsar was discovered by a graduate student, Jocelyn Bell, on 28 Nov 1967, then working under the direction of Prof. Anthony Hewish. The star emitted radio pulses with clock-like precision. It was observed at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, Cambridge University, England. A special radio telescope, was used with 2,048 antennae arrayed across 4.4 acres. Pulsars prompted studies in quantum-degenerate fluids, relativistic gravity and interstellar magnetic fields. *TIS [Before the nature of the signal was determined, the researchers, Bell and her Ph.D supervisor Antony Hewish, somewhat seriously considered the possibility of extraterrestrial life, "We did not really believe that we had picked up signals from another civilization, but obviously the idea had crossed our minds and we had no proof that it was an entirely natural radio emission. It is an interesting problem - if one thinks one may have detected life elsewhere in the universe how does one announce the results responsibly? Who does one tell first?" The observation was given the half-humorous designation Little green men 1, until researchers Thomas Gold and Fred Hoyle correctly identified these signals as rapidly rotating neutron stars with strong magnetic fields.] Read the details in her own words here.

2009 Comet Lulin, a non-periodic comet, makes its closest approach to Earth, peaking in brightness between magnitude +4 and magnitude +6. *Wik


1663 Thomas Newcomen (24 Feb 1663 (Newcomen was baptised OTD unfortunately there is no mention of his birth date in the baptism record); 5 Aug 1729 at age 66) English engineer and inventor of the the world's first successful atmospheric steam engine. His invention of c.1711 came into use by 1725 to pump water out of coal mines or raise water to power water-wheels. On each stroke, steam filled a cylinder closed by a piston, then a spray of water chilled and condensed the steam in the cylinder creating a vacuum, then atmospheric pressure pushed the piston down. A crossbeam transferred the motion of the piston to operating the pump. This was wasteful of fuel needed to reheat the cylinder for the next stroke. Despite being slow and inefficient, Newcomen's engine was relied on for the first 60 years of the new steam age it began, perhaps the single most important invention of the Industrial Revolution. *TIS

1709 Jacques de Vaucanson (24 Feb 1709; 21 Nov 1782 at age 73) French inventor of automata - robot devices of later significance for modern industry. In 1737-38, he produced a transverse flute player, a pipe and tabor player, and a mechanical duck, which was especially noteworthy, not only imitating the motions of a live duck, but also the motions of drinking, eating, and "digesting." He made improvements in the mechanization of silk weaving, but his most important invention was ignored for several decades - that of automating the loom by means of perforated cards that guided hooks connected to the warp yarns. (Later reconstructed and improved by J.-M. Jacquard, it became one of the most important inventions of the Industrial Revolution.) He also invented many machine tools of permanent importance. *TIS

1804 Heinrich Friedrich Emil Lenz (24 Feb 1804, 10 Feb 1865 at age 61) was the Russian physicist who framed Lenz's Law to describe the direction of flow of electric current generated by a wire moving through a magnetic field. Lenz worked on electrical conduction and electromagnetism. In 1833 he reported investigations into the way electrical resistance changes with temperature, showing that an increase in temperature increases the resistance (for a metal). He is best-known for Lenz's law, which he discovered in 1834 while investigating magnetic induction. It states that the current induced by a change flows so as to oppose the effect producing the change. Lenz's law is a consequence of the, more general, law of conservation of energy. *TIS

1868 James Ireland Craig (24 Feb 1868 in Buckhaven, Fife, Scotland - 26 Jan 1952 in Cairo, Egypt) graduated from Edinburgh and Cambridge. He taught at Eton and Winchester and then went to work on the Nile Survey for the Egyptian government. He made some significant inventions in map projections. He was killed when a mob attacked the Turf Club in Cairo.*SAU

1878 Felix Bernstein born. In 1895 or 1896, while still a Gymnasium student, he volunteered to read the proofs of a paper of Georg Cantor on set theory. In the process of doing this the idea came to him one morning while shaving of how to prove what is now called the Cantor/Bernstein theorem: If each of two sets is equivalent to a subset of the other, then they are equivalent. *VFR He also worked on transfinite ordinal numbers.*SAU

1909 Max Black​ (24 February 1909, 27 August 1988) was a British-American philosopher and a leading influence in analytic philosophy in the first half of the twentieth century. He made contributions to the philosophy of language, the philosophy of mathematics and science, and the philosophy of art, also publishing studies of the work of philosophers such as Frege. His translation (with Peter Geach) of Frege's published philosophical writing is a classic text. *Wik

1920 K C Sreedharan Pillai (1920–1985) was an Indian statistician who was known for his works on multivariate analysis and probability distributions. Pillai was honoured by being elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. He was an elected member of the International Statistical Institute. *Wik Perhaps his best known contribution is the widely used multivariate analysis of variance test which bears his name.*SAU

1946 Gregori Aleksandrovich Margulis (24 Feb 1946 - )Russian mathematician who was awarded the Fields Medal in 1978 for his contributions to the theory of Lie groups, though he was not allowed by the Soviet government to travel to Finland to receive the award. In 1990 Margulis immigrated to the United States. Margulis' work was largely involved in solving a number of problems in the theory of Lie groups. In particular, Margulis proved a long-standing conjecture by Atle Selberg concerning discrete subgroups of semisimple Lie groups. The techniques he used in his work were drawn from combinatorics, ergodic theory, dynamical systems, and differential geometry.*TIS The napkin folding problem is a problem in geometry and the mathematics of paper folding that explores whether folding a square or a rectangular napkin can increase its perimeter. The problem is known under several names, including the Margulis napkin problem, suggesting it is due to Grigory Margulis *Wik

1955 Steven Paul Jobs (24 Feb 1955; 5 Oct 2011 at age 56) U S inventor and entrepreneur who, in 1976, co-founded Apple Inc. with Steve Wozniak to manufacture personal computers. During his life he was issued or applied for 338 patents as either inventor or co-inventor of not only applications in computers, portable electronic devices and user interfaces, but also a number of others in a range of technologies. From the outset, he was active in all aspects of the Apple company, designing, developing and marketing. After the initial success of the Apple II series of personal computers, the Macintosh superseded it with a mouse-driven graphical interface. Jobs kept Apple at the forefront of innovative, functional, user-friendly designs with new products including the iPad tablet and iPhone. Jobs was also involved with computer graphics movies through his purchase (1986) of the company that became Pixar *TIS

1967 Brian Paul Schmidt AC, FRS (February 24, 1967, ) is a Distinguished Professor, Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and astrophysicist at The Australian National University Mount Stromlo Observatory and Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics and is known for his research in using supernovae as cosmological probes. He currently holds an Australia Research Council Federation Fellowship and was elected to the Royal Society in 2012.[2] Schmidt shared both the 2006 Shaw Prize in Astronomy and the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics with Saul Perlmutter and Adam Riess for providing evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. *Wik


1728 Charles René Reyneau (11 June 1656 in Brissac, Maine-et-Loire, France - 24 Feb 1728 in Paris, France) was a French mathematician who published an influential textbook on the newly invented calculus.*SAU (He) "undertook to reduce into one body, for the use of his scholars, the principal theories scattered here and there in Newton, Descartes, Leibnitz, Bernoulli, the Leipsic Acts, the Memoirs of the Paris Academy, and in other works; treasures which by being so widely dispersed, proved much less useful than they otherwise might have been. The fruit of this undertaking, was his “Analyse Demontree,” or Analysis Demonstrated, which he published in 1708. He gave it the name of “Analysis Demonstrated,” because he demonstrates in it several methods which had not been handled by the authors of them, with sufficient perspicuity and exactness. The book was so well approved, that it soon became a maxim, at least in France, that to follow him was the best, if not the only way, to make any extraordinary progress in the mathematics and he was considered as the first master, as the Euclid of the sublime geometry." (From the 1812 Chalmer's Biography, vol. 26, p. 151)

1799 Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1 Jul 1742, 24 Feb 1799 at age 56). German physicist and satirical writer, best known for his aphorisms and his ridicule of metaphysical and romantic excesses. At Göttingen University, Lichtenberg did research in a wide variety of fields, including geophysics, volcanology, meteorology, chemistry, astronomy, and mathematics. His most important were his investigations into physics. Notably, he constructed a huge electrophorus and, in the course of experimentations, discovered in 1777 the basic principle of modern xerographic copying; the images that he reproduced are still called "Lichtenberg figures." These are radial patterns formed when sharp, pointed conducting bodies at high voltage get near enough to insulators to discharge electrically, or seen on persons struck by lightning. *TIS

1810 Henry Cavendish (10 Oct 1731; 24 Feb 1810) English chemist and physicist who conducted experiments with diverse interests in his private laboratory. Most notably, he determined the mass and density of the Earth. He investigated the properties of hydrogen and carbon dioxide, including comparing their density to that of air. Cavendish also showed that water was a compound and measured the specific heat of various substances. His manuscripts (published 1879) revealed discoveries he made in electrostatics before Coulomb, Ohm and Faraday - including deducing the inverse square law of electrostatic attraction and repulsion. He also found specific inductive capacity. His family name is attached to the Cavendish Laboratory (founded 1871, funded by a later family member) at Cambridge University. *TIS Cavendish was supposedly so shy that for his only portrait the artist painted his coat from a hook in the hall, then painted Cavendish body from memory. *"Shock and Awe", BBC broadcast on the history of electricity

1812 Étienne-Louis Malus (23 Jun 1775, 24 Feb 1812 at age 36) He served in Napoleon's corps of engineers, fought in Egypt, and contracted the plague during Napoleon's aborted campaign in Palestine. Posted to Europe after 1801, he began research in optics. In 1808, he discovered that light rays may be polarized by reflection, while looking through a crystal of Iceland spar at the windows of a building reflecting the rays of the Sun. He noticed that on rotating the crystal the light was extinguished in certain positions. Applying corpuscular theory, he argued that light particles have sides or poles and coined the word "polarization." *TIS He studied geometric systems called ray systems, closely connected to Julius Plücker's line geometry. He conducted experiments to verify Christiaan Huygens' theories of light and rewrote the theory in analytical form. His discovery of the polarization of light by reflection was published in 1809 and his theory of double refraction of light in crystals, in 1810.
Malus attempted to identify the relationship between the polarising angle of reflection that he had discovered, and the refractive index of the reflecting material. While he deduced the correct relation for water, he was unable to do so for glasses due to the low quality of materials available to him (most glasses at that time showing a variation in refractive index between the surface and the interior of the glass). It was not until 1815 that Sir David Brewster was able to experiment with higher quality glasses and correctly formulate what is known as Brewster's law.
Malus is probably best remembered for Malus' law, giving the resultant intensity, when a polariser is placed in the path of an incident beam. His name is one of the 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel tower.*Wik

1844 Antoine-André-Louis Reynaud (12 Sept 1771, 24 Feb 1844) Reynaud published a number of extremely influential textbooks. He published a mathematics manual for surveyors as well as Traité d'algèbre, Trigonométrie rectiligne et sphérique, Théorèmes et problèmes de géométrie and Traité de statistique. His best known texts, however, were his editions of Bézout's Traité d'arithmétique which appeared in at least 26 versions containing much original work by Reynaud.
It appears that Reynaud became interested in algorithms when he was working with de Prony. At this time de Prony was very much involved in trying to get his logarithmic and trigonometric tables published and it seems to have made Reynaud think about analysing algorithms. Certainly Reynaud, although his results in this area were rather trivial, must get the credit for being one of the first people to give an explicit analysis of an algorithm, an area of mathematics which is of major importance today. *SAU

1856 Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky (December 1, 1792 – February 24, 1856 (N.S.); November 20, 1792 – February 12, 1856 (O.S.)) was a Russian mathematician and geometer, renowned primarily for his pioneering works on hyperbolic geometry, otherwise known as Lobachevskian geometry. William Kingdon Clifford called Lobachevsky the "Copernicus of Geometry" due to the revolutionary character of his work. *Wik  A yahoo recording of the classic Tom Lehrer song about Lobachevsky is here with lyrics. Lehrer has stated there is no accusation of Lobachevsky plagiarizing anything, and his name was chosen for the rhythmic characteristics.

1871 Julius Ludwig Weisbach (10 August 1806 in Mittelschmiedeberg (now Mildenau Municipality), Erzgebirge, 24 February 1871, Freiberg) was a German mathematician and engineer. He studied with Carl Friedrich Gauss in Göttingen and with Friedrich Mohs in Vienna. He wrote an influential book for mechanical engineering students, called Lehrbuch der Ingenieur- und Maschinenmechanik, which has been expanded and reprinted on numerous occasions between 1845 and 1863. *Wik He wrote fourteen books and 59 papers he wrote on mechanics, hydraulics, surveying, and mathematics. It is in hydraulics that his work was most influential, with his books on the topic continuing to be of importance well into the 20th century. *SAU

1923 Edward Williams Morley (29 Jan 1838; 24 Feb 1923) American chemist who is best known for his collaboration with the physicist A.A. Michelson in an attempt to measure the relative motion of the Earth through a hypothetical ether (1887). He also studied the variations of atmospheric oxygen content. He specialized in accurate quantitative measurements, such as those of the vapor tension of mercury, thermal expansion of gases, or the combining weights of hydrogen and oxygen. Morley assisted Michelson in the latter's persuit of measurements of the greatest possible accuracy to detect a difference in the speed of light through an omnipresent ether. Yet the ether could not be detected and the physicists had seriously to consider that the ether did not exist, even questioning much orthodox physical theory. *TIS

1933 Eugenio Bertini (8 Nov 1846 in Forli, Italy - 24 Feb 1933 in Pisa, Italy) was an Italian mathematician who worked in projective and algebraic geometry. His work in algebraic geometry extended Cremona's work. He studied geometrical properties invariant under Cremona transformations and used the theory to resolve the singularities of a curve. A paper by Kleiman studies what the authors calls the two fundamental theorems of Bertini. These two fundamental theorems are among the ones most used in algebraic geometry. The first theorem is a statement about singular points of members of a pencil of hypersurfaces in an algebraic variety. The second theorem is about the irreducibility of a general member of a linear system of hypersurfaces. *SAU

Memorial in childhood
home of Gaylord, Mi
2001 Claude Shannon (30 April 1916 in Petoskey, Michigan, USA - 24 Feb 2001 in Medford, Massachusetts, USA) founded the subject of information theory and he proposed a linear schematic model of a communications system. His Master's thesis was on A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits on the use of Boole's algebra to analyse and optimise relay switching circuits. *SAU While working with John von Neumann on early computer designs, (John) Tukey introduced the word "bit" as a contraction of "binary digit". The term "bit" was first used in an article by Claude Shannon in 1948. Among several statues to Shannon, one is erected in his hometown of Gaylord, Michigan. The statue is located in Shannon Park in the center of downtown Gaylord, which was Shannon's boyhood home. Shannon Park is the former site of the Shannon Building, built and owned by Claude Shannon's father.

Credits :
*CHM=Computer History Museum
*FFF=Kane, Famous First Facts
*NSEC= NASA Solar Eclipse Calendar
*RMAT= The Renaissance Mathematicus, Thony Christie
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History
*TIA = Today in Astronomy
*TIS= Today in Science History
*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*Wik = Wikipedia
*WM = Women of Mathematics, Grinstein & Campbell

Friday, 23 February 2018

On This Day in Math - February 23

Gauss memorial in Brunswick

Pauca sed matura.
(Few, but ripe.)
~Carl F. Gauss, His motto. He would limit his publications to work he regarded as complete and perfect.

Rubik's cube has 54 squares
The 54th day of the year; 54 is the smallest number that can be written as the sum of 3 squares in 3 ways.(Well, go on, find all three ways!)
There are 54 ways to draw six circles through all the points on a 6x6 lattice. *

54 is the fourth Leyland number, after mathematician Paul Leyland. Leyland numbers are numbers of the form \(x^y + y^x \) where x,y are both integers greater than 1.

And the Sin(54o) is one-half the golden ratio.


Drawing by Athanasius Kircher, 1684
1668/9 Cheerleaders Rejoice, The Megaphone is born.. A Letter from Newton on this date is extended by John Collins. In it he mentions "Another useful Instrument lately invented here, is Sir Samuell Morelands loud speaking Trumpett, of which he hath written a Booke or history with the title of Tuba Stentorophonica value one shilling, by which persons may discourse at about a Mile and a halfes distance, if not more". A very similar type of instrument had been thought of by Athanasius Kircher. Two years earlier he described a device that could be used for both broadcasting on one end and “overhearing” on the other. The term ‘megaphone’ was seemingly coined by Thomas Edison 200 years later. *Wik The image at right shows "war tubas" to detect sound of enemy aircraft in the 1920' and 30's before radar. This one shows Emperor Showa inspecting mobile Japanese tubas, but they were common in many countries. *Chris Wild, The strange history of listening before radar.

1826 Lobachevsky first announced his principles of non-Euclidean geometry. This was done in a talk at his home University of Kazan. Unfortunately no record of the talk survives. *VFR

1855 At 1:05 a.m., Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss, Professor of Mathematics and Director of the Observatory at G¨ottingen, ceased breathing. His pocket watch, which he had carried with him most of his life, ceased ticking at almost exactly the same time. [Eves, Adieu, 43◦]*VFR

In 1896, the Tootsie Roll was introduced by Austrian immigrant Leo Hirshfield to the U.S. In a small store in New York City, he began producing his a chocolaty, chewy candy, which he named after a nickname of "Tootsie" for his five-year-old daughter, Clara. He was America's first candy maker to individually wrap penny candy. By 1905, production moved to a four-story factory in New York. During World War II, Tootsie Rolls were added to American soldiers' rations because of their ability to withstand severe weather conditions and give quick energy. Tootsie Rolls are made from a base of sugar, corn syrup, soy-bean oil, skim milk and cocoa. Current production is over 49 million pieces a day.*TIS Every year in Calculus as we were introducing Rolle's Thm, I would mention to my class the important contribution of his daughter, Tootsie.
Some nice "Tootsie Roll" math can be found at this blog from Christopher Danielson.

1912 Richard Courant gives his Inagural lecture, "On Existance Proofs in Mathematics,” at Gottingen. Existance proofs would run through his life’s works. A common joke years later, when he was not loved by all who knew him, was that Courant had proved by Counterexample, “Courant does not exist.” *Reid, Courant

1955 Germany issued a stamp for the centenary of the death of Gauss. [Scott #725] *VFR

In 1987, supernova 1987A in LMC was first seen. The brightest of the twentieth century, it was the first supernova visible with the naked eye since 1604. *TIS

2012 The near earth asteroid 2012 DA14 has an estimated diameter of about 44 meters and an estimated mass of about 120,000 metric tons. It was discovered on February 23, 2012, by the OAM Observatory, La Sagra in Spain (J75). Calculations show that on February 15, 2013, the distance between the asteroid and the Earth will be 0.07 LD (27,000 km; 17,000 mi) *Science Daily


1583 Jean-Baptiste Morin (23 Feb 1583 in Villefranche, Beaujolais, France - 6 Nov 1656 in Paris, France) French astrologer and astronomer who attempted to solve the longitude problem using lunar observations. He was certainly not the first to propose the method but he did add one important new piece of understanding, namely he took lunar parallax into account.
Since Morin put forward his method for a longitude prize, a committee was set up by Cardinal Richelieu​ to evaluate it. Étienne Pascal, Mydorge, Beaugrand, Hérigone, J C Boulenger and L de la Porte served on the committee and they were in dispute with Morin for the five years after he made his proposal.
Morin realised that instruments had to be improved, improved methods of solving spherical triangles had to be found and better lunar tables were needed. He made some advances in these areas but his method, although theoretically sound, could not achieve either the computational or observational accuracy to succeed. Morin refused to listen to objections to his proposal.
Even while the dispute was going on, in 1638, Morin attacked Descartes saying that he had realised as soon as they met how bad his philosophy was. These disputes alienated Morin from the scientific community. He was to spend the latter part of his life isolated from other scientists although Cardinal Richelieu's successor Cardinal Mazarin did award him a pension for his work on the longitude in 1645.*SAU

1723 Richard Price (23 February 1723 – 19 April 1791) was a British moral philosopher and preacher in the tradition of English Dissenters, and a political pamphleteer, active in radical, republican, and liberal causes such as the American Revolution. He fostered connections between a large number of people, including writers of the Constitution of the United States. He spent most of his adult life as minister of Newington Green Unitarian Church, where possibly the congregant he most influenced was early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who extended his ideas on the egalitarianism inherent in the spirit of the French Revolution to encompass women's rights as well. In addition to his work as a moral and political philosopher, he also wrote on issues of statistics and finance, and was inducted into the Royal Society for these contributions. Price was a friend of the mathematician and clergyman Thomas Bayes. He edited Bayes' most famous work "An Essay towards solving a Problem in the Doctrine of Chances" which contains Bayes' Theorem, one of the most fundamental theorems of probability theory, and arranged for its posthumous publication. Price wrote an introduction to Bayes' paper which provides some of the philosophical basis of Bayesian statistics.
Besides the above-mentioned, Price wrote an Essay on the Population of England (2nd ed., 1780) which directly influenced Thomas Robert Malthus.*Wik

1861 George Ballard Mathews, FRS (February 23, 1861 — March 19, 1922) was a London born mathematician who specialized in number theory.
After receiving his degree (as Senior Wrangler) from St John's College, Cambridge in 1883, he was elected a Fellow of St John's College. *Wik Mathews also wrote Algebraic equations (1907) which is a clear exposition of Galois theory, and Projective geometry (1914). This latter book develops the subject of projective geometry without using the concept of distance and it bases projective geometry on a minimal set of axioms. The book also treats von Staudt's theory of complex elements as defined by real involutions. The book contains a wealth of information concerning the projective geometry of conics and quadrics. *SAU

1905 Prime Number Theorist Derrick Lehmer (February 23, 1905 – May 22, 1991) Derrick Lehmer, one of the world's best known prime number theorists, is born in Berkeley, California. Before World War II, Lehmer invented a number of electromechanical sieves for finding prime numbers and made many important contributions in prime number theory throughout his life. Prime numbers are of interest in themselves as mathematical curiosities but are also of great importance to cryptography. The Computer Museum History Center has three Lehmer sieves in its permanent collection. Lehmer died in 1991.*CHM Lehmer's peripatetic career as a number theorist, with he and his wife taking numerous types of work in the United States and abroad to support themselves during the Great Depression, fortuitously brought him into the center of research into early electronic computing.His father Derrick Norman Lehmer, known mainly as a pioneer in number theory computing, also made major contributions to combinatorial computing. *Wik

1922 Anneli Cahn Lax (23 Feb 1922 in Katowice, Poland - 24 Sept 1999 in New York City, New York, USA) Anneli Cahn was born in Katowice, then a German city, but now part of Poland, on February 23, 1922. Her family fled Hitler’s regime in 1935 and settled in New York. She married Peter Lax, a fellow mathematician,
in 1948. Their lives together included a shared love for mathematics. Perhaps her most important contribution to mathematics was as editor of the New Mathematics Library. The launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik in 1957 was a shock to the American scientific community, a shock felt on every level. Much thought was devoted to the education of a new generation who would accelerate the pace of American scientific productivity. Out of this endeavor grew the New Mathematical Library. The notion was to make accessible to interested high school students, and to a more general public, deep results in mathematics
described by research mathematicians. (This sort of work had long been going on in Eastern Europe.) Lax was asked to take over as general editor for this series, and under her guidance it grew to be the foremost mathematical expository
series in the language. Upon her death it was renamed in her honor. *Mark Saul, Obituary for the AMS VOl 47,#7

1947 Robert Edward Bowen called Rufus by his friends, because of his striking red hair and beard (23 Feb 1947 in Vallejo, California, USA - 30 July 1978 in Santa Rosa, California, USA) Rufus Bowen worked on dynamical systems and died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 31. *SAU

1951 Shigefumi Mori (23 Feb 1951 Nagoya, Japan, ) Japanese mathematician who has made important contributions to the field of algebraic geometry. His major work, in which he proved the existence of minimal models for all three-dimensional algebraic varieties (Jan 1988), has been dubbed Mori's Program. Within ten years since his first published paper, Mori had thereby completed what many said could never be done. In 1979, Mori published his first major results, a proof of the Hartshorne conjecture, which stated that a certain class of algebraic varieties are projective in nature. In other words, these varieties or sets of solutions to given polynomial equations could be described using projective geometry. He was awarded the Fields Medal in 1990 for his work in algebraic geometry.*TIS


1468 Johannes Gutenberg, printer, died. *VFR

1560 Gaspar Lax (1487 in Sarinena, Aragon, Spain - 23 Feb 1560 in Zaragoza, Spain) Lax published several good mathematics books based on works by Boethius, Euclid, Jordanus and Campanus. He was one of the Spanish school of "calculatores" who studied mechanics, being particularly involved with numerical examples, and using as their main tools the elements of proportion theory and infinitesimal arithmetic. This school seems to have originated with Lax and other students of Maior who studied in Paris, then returned to Spain. *SAU

1603 François Viète (1540 – 23 February 1603), Seigneur de la Bigotière, was a French mathematician whose work on new algebra was an important step towards modern algebra, due to its innovative use of letters as parameters in equations. He was a lawyer by trade, and served as a privy Councillor to both Henry III and Henry IV. A popular story about Viete as a codebreaker for Henry III is worth resharing: "While working for King Henry III, he discovered the key to a Spanish cipher of 500 characters, and so was able to read the secret correspondence of his enemies. Philipp II of Spain was so sure that his code was invulnerable that when he heard of this, he complained to the Pope that the French were using sorcery against him, contrary to good Christian morals."
Vieta's most significant contributions were in algebra. While letters had been used to describe an unknown quantity by earlier writers, Vieta was the first to also use letters for the parameters or constant coefficients in an equation. Vieta gave a solution of the problem of Apollonius, to construct a circle tangent to three given circles, and also made a study of ``solid" problems such as the trisection of the angle and the construction of the regular heptagon, which use a marked ruler in addition to the Euclidean tools of ruler and compass. (His method was similar to the Greek method called "neusis" {neuein "incline towards"} which had been used by early mathematicians such as Archimedes but gradually the technique dropped out of favor and use.)
Vieta calculated the value of \( \pi \) to ten decimal places, using the method of Archimedes, and also gave an infinite product formula for \( \pi \) one of the earliest occurrences of an infinite product.
*Robin Hartshorne

1844 Duncan Farquharson Gregory (13 April 1813 in Edinburgh, Scotland - 23 Feb 1844 in Edinburgh, Scotland) Scottish mathematician who was one of the first to investigate modern ideas of abstract algebra.In this work Gregory built on the foundations of Peacock but went far further towards modern algebra. Gregory, in his turn, had a major influence on Boole and it was through his influence that Boole set out on his innovative research. *SAU

1855 Karl Friedrich Gauss (30 Apr 1777 in Brunswick, Germany , 23 Feb 1855 at age 77). His poorly educated mother couldn’t remember his birthdate, but could relate it to a movable religious feast. To confirm the date of his birth Gauss developed a formula for the date of Easter. *VFR
He transformed nearly all areas of mathematics, for which his talent showed from a very early age. For his contributions to theory in magnetism and electricity, a unit of magnetic field has been named the gauss. He devised the method of least squares in statistics, and his Gaussian error curve remains well-known. He anticipated the SI system in his proposal that physical units should be based on a few absolute units such as length, mass and time. In astronomy, he calculated the orbits of the small planets Ceres and Pallas by a new method. He invented the heliotrope for trigonometric determination of the Earth's shape. With Weber, he developed an electromagnetic telegraph and two magnetometers. *TIS; He proved that the heptadecagon (17 gon) was constructable (see April 8) with straight-edge and compass. Because of difficulties engraving the 17gon on his memorial, a seventeen pointed star was used instead.
The Star is located below his foot on the right of the monument pedestal. Dave Renfro has provided me a complete and elementary proof of the construction.

1917 Jean-Gaston Darboux (14 Aug 1842, 23 Feb 1917 at age 74)French mathematician whose work on partial differential equations introduced a new method of integration (the Darboux integral) and contributed to infinitesimal geometry. He wrote a paper in 1870 on differential equations of the second order in which he presented the Darboux integral. In 1873, Darboux wrote a paper on cycloids and between 1887-96 he produced four volumes on infinitesimal geometry, including a discussion of one surface rolling on another surface. In particular he studied the geometrical configuration generated by points and lines which are fixed on the rolling surface. He also studied the problem of finding the shortest path between two points on a surface.*TIS

1961 Mary Ann Elizabeth Stephansen (10 March 1872 in Bergen, Norway - 23 Feb 1961 in Espeland, Norway)received her Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Zurich in 1902. She was the first woman from Norway to receive a doctoral degree in any subject. Her thesis area was in partial differential equations. It was not until 1971 that another Norwegian woman obtained a doctorate in mathematics. Stephansen taught at the Norwegian Agricultural College from 1906 until her retirement in 1937. She began as an assistant in physics and mathematics, then was appointed to a newly created docent position in mathematics in 1921. She published four mathematical research papers on partial differential equations and difference equations.
A extensive biography of Elizabeth Stephansen is available as a pdf document at the web site of Professor Kari Hag. This also includes description of her mathematical work. *Agnes Scott College Web site

1963 Antonio Signorini (2 April 1888 – 23 February 1963) was an influential Italian mathematical physicist and civil engineer of the 20th century. He is known for his work in finite elasticity, thermoelasticity and for formulating the Signorini problem.
The Signorini problem is the first variational inequality problem, : it consists in finding the elastic equilibrium configuration of an anisotropic non-homogeneous elastic body, resting on a rigid frictionless surface and subject only to its mass forces. The name was coined by Gaetano Fichera to honour his teacher, Antonio Signorini: the original name coined by him is problem with ambiguous boundary conditions. The problem was posed by Antonio Signorini during a course taught at the Istituto Nazionale di Alta Matematica in 1959. The problem was taken up, in particular, by one of his students, Gaetano Fichera.
On the first days of January 1963, Fichera was able to give a complete proof of the existence and uniqueness of a solution for the problem with ambiguous boundary condition, which he called "Signorini problem" to honour his teacher. The preliminary note later published as Fichera 1963 was written up and submitted to Signorini exactly a week before his death: He was very satisfied to see a positive answer to his question. *Wik

Credits :
*CHM=Computer History Museum
*FFF=Kane, Famous First Facts
*NSEC= NASA Solar Eclipse Calendar
*RMAT= The Renaissance Mathematicus, Thony Christie
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History
*TIA = Today in Astronomy
*TIS= Today in Science History
*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*Wik = Wikipedia
*WM = Women of Mathematics, Grinstein & Campbell

Thursday, 22 February 2018

On This Day in Math - February 22

Illustration from "On the forms of plane quartics", by Ruth Gentry

Suppose a contradiction were to be found in the axioms of set theory. Do you seriously believe that a bridge would fall down?
~Frank P. Ramsey

The 53rd day of the year; the month and day are both prime a total of 53 times in every leap year, but not today.

If you reverse the digits of 53 you get its hexadecimal representation; no other two digit number has this quality.

The sum of the first 53 primes is 5830, which is divisible by 53. It is the last year day for which n divides the sum of the first n primes.

53 is the smallest prime p such that 1p1 (ie, 1531) , 3p3, 7p7 and 9p9 are all prime.(Can you find the 2nd smallest?)


1535 On this day the contestants, Tartaglia and Fiore, were to deliver the answer to the 30 questions they were asking of their opponent to a notary. I assume the contest went on the same day, and it may not have taken long. Thony Christie at the Renaissance Mathematicus described it this way, "Tartaglia sat down and almost instantly gave the correct answers to Fiore’s entire list, who was completely unable to solve a single one of Tartaglia’s questions. This whitewash made Tartaglia a star amongst the reckoning masters." In Mario Livio's "The Equation That Couldn't be Solved" he says that Tartaglia finished all 30 of Fiore's questions in less than two hours. All 30 of Fiore's questions were of the form ax3 + bx = c, and Tartaglia had discovered a general solution for that type of cubic only eight days before the contest. 

1630 Popcorn was introduced to the English colonists at their first Thanksgiving dinner on this date (admit it, you thought it was in November) by Quadequina, brother of Massasoit. As his contribution to the dinner he offered a deerskin bag containing several bushels of “popped” corn. *Kane, Famous First Facts, p. 481 Popcorn is a type of corn with smaller kernels than regular corn, and when heated over a flame, it "pops" into the snack we know it as today. Native Americans were growing it for more than a thousand years before the arrival of European explorers. In 1964, scientists digging in southern Mexico found a small cob of popcorn discovered to be 7,000 years old. (don't you wonder if they tried to pop some of it?) Today, the United States grows nearly all of the world's popcorn. *TIS

1805 Francois Arago picked to head the completion of the measurement of the Paris Meridian. He was a 19yr old student at the Ecole Polytechnique. He was nominated by his professor, Dennis Poisson and appointed on Feb 2, 1805 to finish the work began by Mechain and Delambre. He would leave for Spain on Sept 3 of the following year *Amir D Aczel, Pendulum, pg 75-78

1876 The Johns Hopkins University Founded... commonly referred to as Johns Hopkins, JHU, or simply Hopkins, is a private research university based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. Johns Hopkins maintains campuses in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Italy, China, and Singapore.
The university was founded on January 22, 1876 and named for its benefactor, the philanthropist Johns Hopkins. Daniel Coit Gilman was inaugurated as first president on February 22, 1876. On his death in 1873, Johns Hopkins, a Quaker entrepreneur and childless bachelor, bequeathed $7 million to fund a hospital and university in Baltimore, Maryland. At that time this fortune, generated primarily from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, was the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the United States.*Wik

1877 J. J. Sylvester, at a commencement address at Johns Hopkins, gave his view on the relation between teaching and research: “An eloquent mathematician must, from the nature of things, ever remain as rare a phenomenon as a talking fish, and it is certain that the more anyone gives himself up to the study of oratorial effect, the less he will find himself in a fit state of mind to mathematicize.” See Midonick, The Treasury of Mathematics, p. 768. *VFR

1880 American Poet Sidney Lanier (1842–1922) read his “Ode to The Johns Hopkins University”, which indicated the original faculty was “Led by the soaring-genius’d Sylvester.” [Osiris, 1(1936), p. 112] *VFR

1926 At its fiftieth anniversary celebration, Johns Hopkins University awarded a long overdue doctorate to Christine Ladd-Franklin. Now a sprightly 79, she attended the ceremonies to collect her degree 44 years late. [New York Times, 23 February 1926, p. 12. Thanks to Judy Green. Also see Rossiter, Women Scientists in America, p. 46.] *VFR She applied to Johns Hopkins University as a graduate student, a university not traditionally open to women. A fellow contributor to the publication, Educational Times, who was familiar with her work, James J. Sylvester, noticed her name on a list of applicants and urged the university to admit her. In 1878, she was accepted on the terms that she would only attend his lectures.

1965 Rwanda, in central Africa, issued a series of stamps honoring the National University of Rwanda at Butare. Included in the picture is a radical sign, in fact, this is the only stamp which includes a radical sign, a symbol which originated in Germany. For the complicated history of this symbol, see Math Words,
[Scott #84, 88] *VFR

1785 Jean-Charles-Athanase Peltier (22 Feb 1785; 27 Oct 1845 at age 60)
French physicist who discovered the Peltier effect (1834), that at the junction of two dissimilar metals an electric current will produce heat or cold, depending on the direction of current flow. In 1812, Peltier received an inheritance sufficient to retire from clockmaking and pursue a diverse interest in phrenology, anatomy, microscopy and meteorology. Peltier made a thermoelectric thermoscope to measure temperature distribution along a series of thermocouple circuits, from which he discovered the Peltier effect. Lenz succeeded in freezing water by this method. Its importance was not fully recognized until the later thermodynamic work of Kelvin. The effect is now used in devices for measuring temperature and non-compressor cooling units. *TIS

1796 (Lambert) Adolphe (Jacques) Quetelet (22 Feb 1796, 17 Feb 1874 at age 78) was a Belgian mathematician, astronomer, statistician, and sociologist known for his pioneering application of statistics and the theory of probability to social phenomena, especially crime. At an observatory in Brussels that he established in 1833 at the request of the Belgian government, he worked on statistical, geophysical, and meteorological data, studied meteor showers and established methods for the comparison and evaluation of the data. In Sur l'homme et le developpement de ses facultés, essai d'une physique sociale (1835) Quetelet presented his conception of the average man as the central value about which measurements of a human trait are grouped according to the normal curve. *TIS Quetelet created the Body Mass Index in a paper in 1832. It was known as the Quetelet Index until it was termed the Body Mass Index in 1972 by Ancel Keys.

1817 Carl Borchardt (22 Feb 1817 in Berlin, Germany - 27 June 1880 in Rudersdorf (near Berlin), Germany) was a German mathematician who worked in a variety of areas in analysis. He edited Crelle's Journal for more than 30 years.*SAU

1824 Pierre (-Jules-César) Janssen (22 Feb 1824, 23 Dec 1907) was a French astronomer who in 1868 devised a method for observing solar prominences without an eclipse (an idea reached independently by Englishman Joseph Norman Lockyer). Janssen observed the total Sun eclipse in India (1868). Using a spectroscope, he proved that the solar prominences are gaseous, and identified the chromosphere as a gaseous envelope of the Sun. He noted an unknown yellow spectral line in the Sun in 1868, and told Lockyer (who subsequently recognized it as a new element he named helium, from Greek "helios" for sun). Janssen was the first to note the granular appearance of the Sun, regularly photographed it, and published a substantial solar atlas with 6000 photographs (1904). *TIS

1849 Nikolay Yakovlevich Sonin (February 22, 1849 – February 27, 1915) was a Russian mathematician.
Sonin worked on special functions, in particular cylindrical functions. He also worked on the Euler–Maclaurin summation formula. Other topics Sonin studied include Bernoulli polynomials and approximate computation of definite integrals, continuing Chebyshev's work on numerical integration. Together with Andrey Markov, Sonin prepared a two volume edition of Chebyshev's works in French and Russian. He died in St. Petersburg.*Wik

1856 Micaiah John Muller Hill born. He worked in hydrodynamics, on the three-body problem, and has a differential equation named after him. *VFR He was Vice-Chancellor of the University of London from 1909 to 1911. His books on Euclids fifth and sixth books, and on the Theory of Proportion are available on the internet.

1857 Heinrich Rudolf Hertz (22 Feb 1857, 1 Jan 1894) was a German physicist who was the first to broadcast and receive radio waves. He studied under Kirchhoff and Helmholtz in Berlin, and became professor at Bonn in 1889. His main work was on electromagnetic waves (1887). Hertz generated electric waves by means of the oscillatory discharge of a condenser through a loop provided with a spark gap, and then detecting them with a similar type of circuit. Hertz's condenser was a pair of metal rods, placed end to end with a small gap for a spark between them. Hertz was also the first to discover the photoelectric effect. The unit of frequency - one cycle per second - is named after him. Hertz died of blood poisoning in 1894 at the age of 37. *TIS

1862 Ruth Gentry (February 22, 1862 - October 15, 1917) grew up in Indiana and received her A.B. degree at Indiana State Normal (now Indiana State University) in 1880. After ten years of teaching at preparatory schools, she earned a degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan in 1890. She spent the following year as a Fellow in Mathematics at Bryn Mawr, then became the first mathematician and the second recipient of the Association of College Alumnae European Fellowship, which she used in 1891-92 to attend lectures at the University of Berlin (but was not allowed to enroll for a degree). After a further semester attending mathematics lectures at the Sorbonne in Paris, Gentry returned to Bryn Mawr to become one of Charlotte Scott's first two graduate students. She received her Ph.D. in 1896 on the topic "On the Forms of Plane Quartic Curves." As she writes at the beginning of this thesis:
"Many papers dealing with curves of the fourth order, or Quartic Curves, are to be found in the various mathematical periodicals; but these leave the actual appearance of the curve as a whole so largely to the reader's imagination that it is here proposed to give a complete enumeration of the fundamental forms of Plane Quartic Curves as they appear when projected so as to cut the line infinity the least possible number of times, together with evidence that the forms presented can exist."
Gentry taught at Vassar College from 1896 until 1902, where she was the first mathematics faculty member to hold a Ph.D. degree. She was promoted to associate professor in 1900, but left Vassar two years later to become the associate principal and head of the mathematics department at a private school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a position she held until 1905. After that she spent some time as a volunteer nurse and traveled in the United States and Europe, but she became increasingly ill and died at the age of 55. She was a member of the American Mathematical Society from 1894 until her death in 1917 in Indianapolis, Indiana. *Agnes Scott College web page

1903 Frank Plumpton Ramsey (22 Feb 1903, 19 Jan 1930) English mathematician, logician and philosopher who died at age 26, but had already made significant contributions to logic, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of language and decision theory. He remains noted for his Ramsey Theory, a mathematical study of combinatorial objects in which a certain degree of order must occur as the scale of the object becomes large. This theory spans various fields of mathematics, including combinatorics, geometry, and number theory. His papers show he was also a remarkably creative and subtle philosopher. *TIS His father Arthur, also a mathematician, was President of Magdalene College. His brother, Michael Ramsey, later became Archbishop of Canterbury. Suffering from chronic liver problems, Ramsey contracted jaundice after an abdominal operation and died on 19 January 1930 at Guy's Hospital in London at the age of 26. He is buried at the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground in Cambridge, UK.*Wik

1928 BASIC co-inventor Thomas Kurtz is born. With John Kemeny, Kurtz developed the easy-to-learn programming language for his students at Dartmouth College in the early 1960s. He said: "If Fortran is the lingua franca ... BASIC is the lingua playpen." *CHM


1512 Amerigo Vespucci (9 Mar 1451, 22 Feb 1512 at age 60)Spanish astronomer whose name was given to the New World - America - because it was he and not Columbus, who realized and announced that Columbus had discovered a new continent. *TIS

1687 Francesco Lana de Terzi (Brescia, Lombardy 1631 – 22 February 1687 Brescia, Lombardy) was an Italian Jesuit, mathematician, naturalist and aeronautics pioneer. Having been professor of physics and mathematics at Brescia, he first sketched the concept for a vacuum airship and has been referred to as the Father of Aeronautics for his pioneering efforts, turning the aeronautics field into a science by establishing "a theory of aerial navigation verified by mathematical accuracy". He also developed the idea that developed into Braille. *Wik

1901 George Francis FitzGerald (3 Aug 1851 in Kill-o'-the Grange, Monkstown, Co. Dublin, Ireland - 21 Feb 1901 in Dublin, Ireland) Irish physicist whose suggestion of a way to produce waves helped lay a foundation for wireless telegraphy. He also first developed a theory, independently discovered by Hendrik Lorentz, that a material object moving through an electromagnetic field would exhibit a contraction of its length in the direction of motion. This is now known as the Lorentz-FitzGerald contraction, which Einstein used in his own special theory of relativity. He also was first to propose the structure of comets as a head made of large stones, but a tail make of such smaller stones (less than 1-cm diam.) that the pressure of light radiation from the sun could deflect them. FitzGerald also studied electrolysis as well as electromagnetic radiation.*TIS

1941 Dayton Clarence Miller (13 Mar 1866, 22 Feb 1941 at age 74)American physicist. Author of The Science of Musical Sounds (1916). Miller's collection of nearly 1,650 flutes and other instruments, and other materials mostly related to the flute, is now at the Library of Congress. To provide a mechanical means of recording sound waves photographically, he invented the phonodeik (1908). He became expert in architectural ecoustics. During WW I, he was consulted concerning using his photodeik to help locate enemy guns. Miller spent considerable research effort on repeating the Michelson and Morley experiment, proposed by Maxwell, to detect a stationary aether. He spent some time working with Morley (1902-4), then more time at Mt. Wilson, recording results favoring the presence of the aether.*TIS

1975 Oskar Perron ( 7 May 1880 in Frankenthal, Pfalz, Germany - 22 Feb 1975 in Munich, Germany)was a German mathematician best known for the Perron paradox:
Suppose the largest natural number is N. Then if N is greater than 1 we have N2 greater than N contradicting the definition. His publications cover a wide range of mathematical topics. His work in analysis is certainly remembered through the Perron integral. However he also worked on differential equations, matrices and other topics in algebra, continued fractions, geometry and number theory. *SAU

1984 Maxwell Herman Alexander "Max" Newman, FRS (7 February 1897 – 22 February 1984) was a British mathematician and codebreaker. After WWII he continued to do research on combinatorial topology during a period when England was a major center of activity, notably Cambridge under the leadership of Christopher Zeeman. Newman made important contributions leading to an invitation to present his work at the 1962 International Congress of Mathematicians in Stockholm at the age of 65, and proved a Generalized Poincaré conjecture for topological manifolds in 1966. He died in Cambridge.*Wik

Credits :
*CHM=Computer History Museum
*FFF=Kane, Famous First Facts
*NSEC= NASA Solar Eclipse Calendar
*RMAT= The Renaissance Mathematicus, Thony Christie
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History
*TIA = Today in Astronomy
*TIS= Today in Science History
*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*Wik = Wikipedia
*WM = Women of Mathematics, Grinstein & Campbell

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

On This Day in Math - February 21

Durer Perspective

My mother said, "Even you, Paul, can be in only one place at one time." Maybe soon I will be relieved of this disadvantage. Maybe, once I've left, I'll be able to be in many places at the same time. Maybe then I'll be able to collaborate with Archimedes and Euclid.
~Paul Erdos

The 52nd day of the year; The month and day are simultaneously prime a total of 52 times in a non-leap year. *Tanya Khovanova, Number Gossip How many times in a leap year ?

52 is also the maximum number of moves needed to solve the 15 puzzle from the worst possible start. *Mario Livio

52 is the number of 8-digit primes (on a calculator) that remain prime if viewed upside down, in a mirror, or upside down in a mirror. *Prime Curios

There are 52 letters in the names of the cards in a standard deck: ACE KING QUEEN JACK TEN
(This also works in Spanish. any other languages for which this is true?) *Futility Closet  


1632 Galileo's epic Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems is Published in Florence. After receiving, what Galileo viewed as permission to write about "the systems of the world" from the new pope, Urban VIII. Greeted with Praise from scholars across Europe, it would eventually be Galileo's downfall. *Brody & Brody, The Science Class You Wish You Had

1699 Newton elected the second foreign member of the French Academy. See January 28, 1699. [American Journal of Physics, 34(1966), 22] *VFR Thony Christie points out in a comment (below) that "Newton was appointed foreign associate of the Académie Royale des Sciences along with four others so to claim he was the second is more than somewhat dubious." (My Thanks)

1727/8 Isaac Greenwood began his “Publick” lectures at Harvard as the first Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. The lectures were open to the entire university. [I. B. Cohen, Some Early Tools of American Science, p. 35.] *VFR

1811, as Humphry Davy read a paper to the Royal Society, he introduced the name "chlorine" from the Greek word for "green," for the bright yellow green gas chemists then knew as oxymuriatic gas. In his paper, On a Combination of Oxymuriatic Gas and Oxygene Gas, Davy reported on his numerous experiments with oxymuratic gas, which appeared to have many of the reactive properties of oxygen. Hydrochloric acid was then known as muriatic acid, and when chlorine was first obtained from a reaction with the acid, the yellow green gas had been thought to be a compound containing oxygen. Later, Davy's careful work would show that the chlorine gas was in fact an element, unable to be decomposed into any simpler substances. *TIS

1831 Michael Faraday in a letter to William Whewell regarding a recent publication by Whewell (Journal of the Royal Institution of England (1831), 437-453.), “Your remarks upon chemical notation with the variety of systems which have arisen, had almost stirred me up to regret publicly that such hindrances to the progress of science should exist. I cannot help thinking it a most unfortunate thing that men who as experimentalists, philosophers are the most fitted to advance the general cause of science; knowledge should by promulgation of their own theoretical views under the form of nomenclature, notation, or scale, actually retard its progress. *Isaac Todhunter, William Whewell, (1876), Vol. 1., 307.

1845 The ship Charles Heddle sailed north from Mauritius and encountered a terrible storm. Striking sails and scudding before the wind they proceeded four times around the center in clockwise loops hundreds of miles wide. After six days a clearing sky allowed the Captain to take a reading and realize that as they circled, they had also been driven back nearly to their starting point. Reading the log of the Charles Heddle and other reports of this storm, Henry Piddington coined the word cyclone, from the Greek for "coils of a snake,". After he used the term in his "The Sailor's Horn-Book for the Law of Storms" it became a common term.

1908 Birth date of Dr. Irving Joshua Matrix, the greatest numerologist who (n)ever lived. At the age of seven he astonished his minister Father when he pointed out that 8 is the holiest number of all: “The other numbers with holes are 0, 6, and 9, and sometimes 4, but 8 has two holes, therefore it is the holiest.” Martin Gardner first drew attention to Dr. Matrix in his January 1960 column “Mathematical Games,” in Scientific American. For more details, see The Incredible Dr. Matrix, by Martin Gardner [p. 3-4]. *VFR

1953, Francis Crick and James Watson reached their conclusion about the double helix structure of the DNA molecule. They made their first announcement on Feb 28, and their paper, A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid, was published in the 25 Apr 1953 issue of journal Nature. *TIS

1958: The Peace symbol is designed and completed by Gerald Holtom.
*History Time

1996 Cox Enterprises announces it was buying a one-third interest in Digital Domain, a computer-generated special effects company, in order to heighten the use of special effects in media. The deal reflected "another step in the rapid convergence of various computer, software, entertainment and media companies," The New York Times wrote. *CHM

2012 The engineering profession's highest honors for 2012, presented by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), recognize ground-breaking contributions to the development of the modern liquid crystal display and achievements that led to a curriculum that encourages engineering leadership. The awards, announced today, will be presented at a gala dinner event in Washington, DC on February 21, 2012.
George H. Heilmeier, Wolfgang Helfrich, Martin Schadt, and T. Peter Brody will receive the Charles Stark Draper Prize a $500,000 annual award that honors engineers whose accomplishments have significantly benefited society "for the engineering development of the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) that is utilized in billions of consumer devices." *AAAS/Science Newsletter, January 19, 2012


1591 Girard Desargues (21 Feb 1591 in Lyon, France - ? Sept 1661 in Lyon, France) He did noted work in projective geometry. *VFR Desargues' most important work, the one in which he invented his new form of geometry, has the title Rough draft for an essay on the results of taking plane sections of a cone (Brouillon project d'une atteinte aux evenemens des rencontres du Cone avec un Plan). A small number of copies was printed in Paris in 1639. Only one is now known to survive, and until this was rediscovered, in 1951, Desargues' work was known only through a manuscript copy made by Philippe de la Hire (1640 - 1718). The book is short, but very dense. It begins with pencils of lines and ranges of points on a line, considers involutions of six points (Desargues does not use or define a cross ratio), gives a rigorous treatment of cases involving 'infinite' distances, and then moves on to conics, showing that they can be discussed in terms of properties that are invariant under projection. We are given a unified theory of conics.
Desargues' famous 'perspective theorem' - that when two triangles are in perspective the meets of corresponding sides are colinear - was first published in 1648, in a work on perspective by Abraham Bosse. *SAU

1764 Ruan Yuan (Chinese characters: 阮元) (21 Feb 1764 in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, China - 27 Nov 1849 in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, China), was a scholar official in the Qing Dynasty in Imperial China. He won jinshi (high) honors in the imperial examinations in 1789 and was subsequently appointed to the Hanlin Academy. He was famous for his work Biographies of Astronomers and Mathematicians and for his editing the Shi san jing zhu shu (Commentaries and Notes on the Thirteen Classics) for the Qing emperor.*Wik

1849 Édouard Gaston (Daniel) Deville (21 Feb 1849; 21 Sep 1924 at age 75)
was a French-Canadian surveyor was a French-born Canadian surveyor of Canadian lands (1875-1924) who perfected the first practical method of photogrammetry, or the making of maps based on photography. His system used projective grids of images taken from photographs made with a camera and theodolite mounted on the same tripod. Photographs were taken from different locations, at precise predetermined angles, with measured elevations. Each photograph slightly overlapped the preceding one. With enough photographs and points of intersection, a map could be prepared, including contour lines. He also invented (1896) the first stereoscopic plotting instrument called the Stereo-Planigraph, though its complexity resulted in little use. *TIS

1915 Evgeny Mikhailovich Lifshitz FRS (February 21, 1915 – October 29, 1985) was a leading Soviet physicist of Jewish origin and the brother of physicist Ilya Mikhailovich Lifshitz. (Some commonly encountered alternative transliterations of his names include Yevgeny or Evgenii and Lifshits or Lifschitz.) Lifshitz is well known in general relativity for coauthoring the BKL conjecture concerning the nature of a generic curvature singularity. As of 2006, this is widely regarded as one of the most important open problems in the subject of classical gravitation.
With Lev Landau, Lifshitz co-authored Course of Theoretical Physics, an ambitious series of physics textbooks, in which the two aimed to provide a graduate-level introduction to the entire field of physics. These books are still considered invaluable and continue to be widely used. Landau's wife strongly criticized his scientific abilities, hinting at how much of their joint work was done by Lifshitz and how much by Landau. Despite the sniping, he is well known for many invaluable contributions, in particular to quantum electrodynamics, where he calculated the Casimir force in an arbitrary macroscopic configuration of metals and dielectrics.*Wik


1900 Charles Piazzi Smyth FRSE FRS FRAS FRSSA (3 January 1819, Naples, Italy – 21 February 1900), was Astronomer Royal for Scotland from 1846 to 1888, well known for many innovations in astronomy and his pyramidological and metrological studies of the Great Pyramid of Giza. *Wik

1901 George Francis Fitzgerald (3 Aug 1851, 21 Feb 1901 at age 49) Irish physicist whose suggestion of a way to produce waves helped lay a foundation for wireless telegraphy. He also first developed a theory, independently discovered by Hendrik Lorentz, that a material object moving through an electromagnetic field would exhibit a contraction of its length in the direction of motion. This is now known as the Lorentz-FitzGerald contraction, which Einstein used in his own special theory of relativity. He also was first to propose the structure of comets as a head made of large stones, but a tail make of such smaller stones (less than 1-cm diam.) that the pressure of light radiation from the sun could deflect them. FitzGerald also studied electrolysis as well as electromagnetic radiation.*TIS

1912  Émile Michel Hyacinthe Lemoine (22 Nov 1840 in Quimper, France - 21 Feb 1912 in Paris, France) Lemoine work in mathematics was mainly on geometry. He founded a new study of properties of a triangle in a paper of 1873 where he studied the point of intersection of the symmedians of a triangle. He had been a founder member of the Association Française pour l'Avancement des Sciences and it was at a meeting of the Association in 1873 in Lyon that he presented his work on the symmedians.
A symmedian of a triangle from vertex A is obtained by reflecting the median from A in the bisector of the angle A. He proved that the symmedians are concurrent, the point where they meet now being called the Lemoine point. Among other results on symmedians in Lemoine's 1873 paper is the result that the symmedian from the vertex A cuts the side BC of the triangle in the ratio of the squares of the sides AC and AB. He also proved that if parallels are drawn through the Lemoine point parallel to the three sides of the triangle then the six points lie on a circle, now called the Lemoine circle. Its centre is at the mid-point of the line joining the Lemoine point to the circumcentre of the triangle. Lemoine gave up active mathematical research in 1895 but continued to support the subject. He had helped to found a mathematical journal, L'intermédiaire des mathématiciens., in 1894 and he became its first editor, a role he held for many years. *SAU   His mathematical recreation books are still popular in France.

1912 Osborne Reynolds (23 Aug 1842 in Belfast, Ireland - 21 Feb 1912 in Watchet, Somerset, England) was an Irish mathematician best known for introducing the Reynolds number classifying fluid flow.*SAU

1926 Heike Kamerlingh Onnes (21 Sep 1853, 21 Feb 1926 at age 72)Dutch physicist who was awarded the 1913 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on low-temperature physics in which he liquified hydrogen and helium. From his studies of the resistance of metals at low temperatures, he discovered superconductivity (a state in which certain metals exhibit almost no electrical resistance at a temperature near absolute zero).*TIS

1932 James Mercer FRS (15 January 1883 – 21 February 1932) was a mathematician, born in Bootle, close to Liverpool, England. He was educated at University of Manchester, and then University of Cambridge. He became a Fellow, saw active service at the Battle of Jutland in World War I, and after decades of suffering ill health died in London, England.
He proved Mercer's theorem, which states that positive definite kernels can be expressed as a dot product in a high-dimensional space. This theorem is the basis of the kernel trick (applied by Aizerman), which allows linear algorithms to be easily converted into non-linear algorithms. *Wik

1938 George Ellery Hale (29 Jun 1868, 21 Feb 1938 at age 69). U S astronomer known for his development of important astronomical instruments. To expand solar observations and promote astrophysical studies he founded Mt. Wilson Observatory (Dec 1904). He discovered that sunspots were regions of relatively low temperatures and high magnetic fields. Hale hired Harlow Shapley and Edwin Hubble as soon as they finished their doctorates, and he encouraged research in galactic and extragalactic astronomy as well as solar and stellar astrophysics. Hale planned and tirelessly raised funds for the 200-inch reflecting telescope at the Palomar Mountain Observatory completed in 1948, after his death, and named for him—the Hale telescope. *TIS

1962 Julio Rey Pastor (14 August 1888 – 21 February 1962) was a Spanish mathematician and historian of science. Rey proposed the creation of a "seminar in mathematics to arouse the research spirit of our school children.” His proposal was accepted and in 1915 the JAE created the Mathematics Laboratory and Seminar, an important institution for the development of research on this field in Spain.
In 1951, he was appointed director of the Instituto Jorge Juan de Matemáticas in the CSIC. His plans in Spain included two projects: the creation, within the CSIC, of an Institute of Applied Mathematics, and the foundation of a Seminar on the History of Science at the university. *Wik

1996 Hans-Joachim Bremermann​ (14 Sept 1926 in Bremen, Germany - 21 Feb 1996 in Berkeley, California, USA) was a German-American mathematician and biophysicist. He worked on computer science and evolution, introducing new ideas of how mating generates new gene combinations. Bremermann's limit, named after him, is the maximum computational speed of a self-contained system in the material universe.*Wik

2009 Ilya Piatetski-Shapiro (30 March 1929 – 21 February 2009) was a Russian-Jewish mathematician. During a career that spanned 60 years he made major contributions to applied science as well as theoretical mathematics. In the last forty years his research focused on pure mathematics; in particular, analytic number theory, group representations and algebraic geometry. His main contribution and impact was in the area of automorphic forms and L-functions.
For the last 30 years of his life he suffered from Parkinson's disease. However, with the help of his wife Edith, he was able to continue to work and do mathematics at the highest level, even when he was barely able to walk and speak.*Wik

Credits :
*CHM=Computer History Museum
*FFF=Kane, Famous First Facts
*NSEC= NASA Solar Eclipse Calendar
*RMAT= The Renaissance Mathematicus, Thony Christie
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History
*TIA = Today in Astronomy
*TIS= Today in Science History
*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*Wik = Wikipedia
*WM = Women of Mathematics, Grinstein & Campbell