Sunday, 31 July 2011

On This Day in Math - July 31


I advise my students to listen carefully the moment 
they decide to take no more mathematics courses. 
They might be able to hear the sound of closing doors.
~Caballero, James

The 212th day of the year; In Fahrenheit degrees, the boiling point of water at sea level is 212 degrees.

EVENTS
1669 Lucasian professor Isaac Barrow sent John Collins a manuscript of Newton’s De analysi and thereby Newton’s anonymity began to dissolve. It was a summary of Newton’s work on the calculus and was written after Newton saw Nicholas Mercator’s Logarithmotechnia (1668). Newton wrote his paper in order that he would not lose credit for his work on infinite series. Collins immediately recognized Newton’s genius. Although not published until 1711, this paper led to Newton’s appointment as Lucasian professor on 29 October 1669.*VFR

1790 The U.S. Patent Office issued its first patent to Samuel Hopkins of Vermont for his “process for making pot and pearl ashes,” whatever they are. Since George Washington and Thomas Jefferson signed Hopkins’ patent, more than 4 million have been issued. *VFR In 1790, the first U.S. patent was granted to Samuel Hopkins of Vermont for a process for making potash and pearl ashes. Potash was important as an ingredient in soap and fertilizer. The patent was granted for a term of 14 years and signed by President George Washington, who had the previous month signed the first U.S. patent statute into law on 10 April 1790. Hopkins did not get Patent with a serial No.1 as thousands of patents were issued before the Patent Office began to number them. Congress had passed the Patent Act on 10 Apr 1790. Two other patents were granted that year - one for a new candle-making process and the other the flour-milling machinery of Oliver Evans. The next year, 1791, Samuel Hopkins also was granted the first Canadian patent.*TIS

1851 Gauss witnessed the opening ceremonies when the newly constructed railway from Cassel reached Gottingen. *VFR


1943 Ireland issued—as its first stamp with a mathematical theme—two stamps to celebrate the centenary of the discovery of Quaternions by Sir William Rowan Hamilton. [Scott #126-7]. *VFR

1985 The second full moon this month (the other was on the 2nd). This only happens “Once in a blue moon”—and this is the origin of the phrase. Consequently, there were thirteen full moons in the year 1985. *VFR

BIRTHS
1704 Gabriel Cramer born. He is best known for “Cramer’s Rule,” a method for solving systems of simultaneous linear equations using determinants. *VFR Gabriel Cramer (31 July 1704 – 4 January 1752) was a Swiss mathematician, born in Geneva. He showed promise in mathematics from an early age. At 18 he received his doctorate and at 20 he was co-chair of mathematics. In 1728 he proposed a solution to the St. Petersburg Paradox that came very close to the concept of expected utility theory given ten years later by Daniel Bernoulli. He published his best known work in his forties. This was his treatise on algebraic curves, "Introduction à l'analyse des lignes courbes algébriques", published in 1750. It contains the earliest demonstration that a curve of the n-th degree is determined by n(n + 3)/2 points on it, in general position. He edited the works of the two elder Bernoullis; and wrote on the physical cause of the spheroidal shape of the planets and the motion of their apsides (1730), and on Newton's treatment of cubic curves (1746). He was professor at Geneva, and died at Bagnols-sur-Cèze.*Wik

1712 Samuel König was a German mathematician who is best remembered for his part in a dispute with Maupertuis over the Principle of Least Action.*SAU

1718 John Canton British physicist and teacher, born Stroud, Gloucestershire. He made a number of minor discoveries in physics and chemistry. As a result of preparing artificial magnets in 1749 he was elected to the Royal Society. In 1762, he demonstrated that water was slightly compressible. He invented a number of devices in connection with electricity. His notable work, between 1756 and 1759, was to record that on days when the aurora borealis was particularly bright, a compass needle behaved with more irregularity than usual. Thus he was the first to record this as an electromagnetic phenomenon for what is now known to be a magnetic storm.*TIS

1826 Daniel Friedrich Ernst Meissel - mathematical work covers number theory, work on Möbius inversion and the theory of partitions as well as work on Bessel functions, asymptotic analysis, refraction of light and the three body problem. *SAu

1858 Richard Dixon Oldham Irish geologist and seismologist who discovered evidence for the existence of the Earth's liquid core (1906). In studying seismograms of great 1897 Indian Earthquake he identified P (primary) and S (secondary) waves. It is interesting that he did not get a clue to the presence of the core from the S waves, which are actually incapable of being transmitted through the liquid of the outer core. (The liquid core does not transmit the shear wave energy released during an earthquake.) Rather he noted the existence of a shadow zone in which P waves from an earthquake in the opposite hemisphere of the earth failed to appear*TIS

1863 George Abram Miller (31 July 1863 – 10 February 1951) was an early group theorist whose many papers and texts were considered important by his contemporaries, but are now mostly considered only of historical importance.
Miller was born in Lynnville, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, and died in Urbana, Illinois.*Wik

1923 Joseph B. Keller (born July 31, 1923, Paterson, New Jersey) is an American mathematician who specializes in applied mathematics. He is best known for his work on the "Geometrical Theory of Diffraction" (GTD).
He worked on the application of mathematics to problems in science and engineering, such as wave propagation. He contributed to the Einstein-Brillouin-Keller method for computing eigenvalues in quantum mechanical systems.
In 1988 he was awarded the U.S. National Medal of Science, and in 1997 he was awarded the Wolf Prize by the Israel-based Wolf Foundation. In 1996, he was awarded the Nemmers Prize in Mathematics.*Wik

1945 John O'Connor Born 31st July 1945 in Luton, Bedfordshire, England.
Lists his Research interests A lapsed topologist, I am interested in Computational Algebra.
I am interested in the History of Mathematics and at present am supervising two research students in this area. * His Personal web page


1927 F. E. Browder born. Worked in Nonlinear monotone operators and convex sets in Banach spaces. and more.

DEATHS
1726 Nikolaus II Bernoulli died. *VFR Nicolaus(II) Bernoulli was the favourite of three sons of Johann Bernoulli. He made important mathematical contributions to the problem of trajectories while working on the mathematical arguments behind the dispute between Newton and Leibniz.*SAU

1784 Denis Diderot died.*VFR was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent persona during the Enlightenment and is best-known for serving as co-founder and chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie. *Wik


1896 Ludwig Christian Wiener  was a German mathematician, physicist and philosopher, known for his explanation of Brownian motion , which identified him as a skillful experimenter. He mainly dealt with geometry.*Wik
1913 John Milne (30 December 1850 – 31 July 1913) English seismologist who invented the horizontal pendulum seismograph (1894) and was one of the European scientists that helped organize the seismic survey of Japan in the last half of the 1800's. Milne conducted experiments on the propagation of elastic waves from artificial sources, and building construction. He spent 20 years in Japan, until 1895, when a fire destroyed his property, and he returned home to the Isle of Wight. He set up a new laboratory and persuaded the Royal Society to fund initially 20 earthquake observatories around the world, equipped with his seismographs. By 1900, Milne seismographs were established on all of the inhabited continents and he was recognized as the world's leading seismologist. He died of Bright's disease*TIS

Credits:
*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*TIS= Today in Science History
*Wik = Wikipedia
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History
*CHM=Computer History Museum

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Things I Learned on the Road-II

Things I Learned on the Road (and long afterward, at home)

Some notes from a trip a few years ago with some updates from recent readings.... enjoy (or if this is your second time, re-enjoy)
Newsflash!! Spanish Moss is NOT Spanish...AND (wait for it.....) it is NOT moss... talk about bad names... The French gave it the "Spanish" name as an insult???? Guess you had to be there. Probably an old Monty Python skit about that, "Your Moss is Spanish and your Mother smells of Elderberries!!!". Ok, and the moss part, NOPE... its an epiphitic (gets its food from the air) bromeliad (cousin of the pineapple). Now you know

I also was reminded that people are really strange. In the middle of the road in Enterprise Alabama, there is a statue to the Boil Weevil . Now if you are really a city child and know nothing of the agricultural history of the south, the weevil wiped out many cotton farmers in the south around the beginning of the 20th century. The idea of a monument to the weevil in Alabama would seem like a giant grasshopper in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Ok, So a few years later I came across a reason for this at the Futility Closet blog by Greg Ross.  It seems that, after the weevil's wiped out all the cotton crops for several years in a row, "local businessman H.M. Sessions convinced indebted farmer C.W. Bastion to try planting peanuts instead of cotton. When Bastion produced 8,000 bushels that year, neighboring farmers followed suit, and in 1917 Coffee County brought forth the largest peanut harvest in the nation.
Because the new, diversified crops proved more profitable than cotton, in 1919 local businessman Roscoe Fleming proposed dedicating a statue to the pest that had proven a “herald of prosperity,” and an $1,800 classical statue was commissioned from an Italian sculptor. Thirty years later, one Luther Baker fashioned a large weevil to place atop her outstretched arms. Might as well be explicit."  --And now you know, as Paul Harvey would say, ....

I also continued my road heroics on Jekyll Island (which used to be called Jeykl Island, but someone thought the extra L would be better ). I saved a Loggerhead Turtle and set him free. Ok, I didn't do it all by myself. The Georgia Sea Turtle association was releasing a ten year old (about 150 pounds) that had been kept in the Georgia Acquarium since its egg-ship. I did happen to be in the crowd watching as Dylan, that was his name, went free. He seemed to need a little encouragement as he turned back to shore several times. Eventually prompted by the workers in the waters urging he swam out to sea. Perhaps he was also encouraged by the shouting on shore as the crowd yelled "DIll - Enn.. Dill Enn... repeatedly, especially if he was as confused as I was at first. I thought I had fallen in with gourmets of the turtle soup variety yelling "Kill him, kill him..' eventually I got it straight, and hope Dylan also knew we were NOT trying to have him for supper.

More stuff I learned, don't explain palindromes while driving through Elba, Alabama. As I came into town the name of the town reminded me of one of the first palindromes I ever leaned (OK, second, the first was Madam I am Adam.. read it backwards if you don't know what a palindrome is); Able was I ere I saw Elba. In math, we call numbers like 121 or 1331 or 14641 (surely you recognize the powers of 11) palindromic numbers. We even refer to a polynomial like 1x2+2x+1 as palindromic (look at the coefficients). As I was making sure my wife understood, I saw flashing lights in the rear view mirror... apparently the speed through town was only 25 mph and I was, as the kind officer explained holding thumb and finger an inch apart, "A little over." It was Sunday Morning, and in the spirit of Christian charity, he let me off with a warning.... Thank goodness I was not in Georgia.. I might still be rotting in Macon County Correctional Institute for Out of state drivers.

On This Day in Math - July 30




I have created a new universe from nothing.
~Janos Bolyai

The 211th day of the year; 211 is a primorial prime,(a prime that is one more, or less than a primorial [see July 29 for primorial] can you find the next larger (or smaller) primorial prime? 211 is also the sum of three consecutive primes (67 + 71 + 73)...

EVENTS
1738  Euler sends a letter to John Bernoulli with the solution to a question from Danial Bernoulli regarding isoperimetric curves.

1859 Bernhard Reimann is appointed full professor at Gottingen, succeeding his two former teachers, Gauss and Dirichlet. He also is allowed to occupy Gauss' apartments at the observatory. *John Derbyshire, Prime Obsession, pg 135
In 1898, Corn Flakes were invented by William Kellogg. At Battle Creek Sanitarium, Sanitarium superintendent, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and Will Keith Kellogg, his younger brother and business manager, invented many grain-based foods, including a coffee substitute, a type of granola, and peanut butter to provide patients a strict nutritious diet. In 1894 they unintentionally invented a flaked cereal process based on wheat. By 1898, W.K. Kellogg had developed the first flaked corn cereal. Patients enjoyed the cereals and wanted more to take home. In 1906, the Battle Creek Toaster Corn Flake Company was founded by W.K. Kellogg.*TIS

1971 Apollo 15 mission became the fourth mission to land on the moon when the Falcon lunar lander touched down. This mission allowed the astronauts to spend more time on the surface of the moon. The lander stayed three days on the surface and the crew conducted over 18 hours of outside work. They also were aided for the first time by a lunar rover vehicle.*Science Today

BIRTHS
1857 Thorstein Bunde Veblen, (July 30, 1857 – August 3, 1929) was an American economist and sociologist, and a leader of the so-called institutional economics movement. Besides his technical work he was a popular and witty critic of capitalism, as shown by his best known book The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899).

1863 Henry Ford American inventor and car manufacturer, born in Dearborn, Mich. Ford first experimented with internal combustion engines while he was an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company. He completed his first useful gas motor on 24 Dec 1893. The Quadricycle, he designed made its first road test on 4 Jun 1896. In 1903 the Ford Motor Company was incorporated. By 1908, Ford was manufacturing the low cost, reliable Model T, while continuing to revolutionize his industry. Ford introduced precision manufactured parts designed to be standardized and interchangeable parts. In 1913, production was increased using a continuous moving assembly line. By 1918, half of all cars in America were Model T's.*TIS

1887 Felix Andries Vening Meinesz was a Dutch geophysicist and geodesist who was known for his measurements of gravity at sea for which he devised the Vening Meinesz pendulum apparatus with comparable accuracy as on land. Starting in 1923 he conducted several global gravity surveys on voyages on submarines, particularly to and in the Indonesian Archipelago. He detected strong gravity anomaly belts running parallel to the Indonesian deep sea trenches. He explained these Meinesz belts as sites of downbuckling of the Earth's crust. He introduced the concept of regional isostasy taking flexure of an elastic crust into account. He also contributed to physical geodesy: The Vening Meinesz formula connects the deviation of the vertical from the plumbline to gravity anomalies. *TIS

1889 Vladimir Zworykin was born in Russia. After emigrating to Pittsburgh, Zworykin took a job at Westinghouse Electric Corp., where in 1923 he filed a patent for the iconoscope, the first television transmission tube and a technology that was to become of interest to early computer designers. With a later invention, the kinescope, Zworykin was able to create the first all-electric television system. Zworykin took the technology to RCA in 1929, where he continued his work and earned the title "father of television.*CMH

DEATHS
1762 William Braikenridge was an English clergyman who worked on geometry and discovered independently many of the same results as Maclaurin.*SAU

1913 John Milne English seismologist who invented the horizontal pendulum seismograph (1894) and was one of the European scientists that helped organize the seismic survey of Japan in the last half of the 1800's. Milne conducted experiments on the propagation of elastic waves from artificial sources, and building construction. He spent 20 years in Japan, until 1895, when a fire destroyed his property, and he returned home to the Isle of Wight. He set up a new laboratory and persuaded the Royal Society to fund initially 20 earthquake observatories around the world, equipped with his seismographs. By 1900, Milne seismographs were established on all of the inhabited continents and he was recognized as the world's leading seismologist. He died of Bright's disease*TIS

1978 Rufus Bowen worked on dynamical systems. Rufus died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 31. *SAU

1985 Julia Robinson died of leukemia. After receiving her Ph.D. in 1948 under the direction of Alfred Tarski, she began work on Hilbert’s tenth problem, the problem which occupied most of her professional life.*VFR She also worked on computability, decision problems and non-standard models of arithmetic. *SAU Her sister was Constance Reid who wrote biographies of several mathematicians and several popular math books.


Credits
*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*TIS= Today in Science History
*Wik = Wikipedia
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History
*CHM=Computer History Museum

Friday, 29 July 2011

On This Day in Math - July 29



To call in the statistician after the experiment is done may be 
no more than asking hm to perform a postmortem examination:
he may be able to say what the experiment died of.
~Ronald Fisher

This is the 210th day of the year; 210 is a composite number, an abundant number, and the product of the first four prime numbers (2, 3, 5, and 7), and thus a primorial. It is also the sum of eight consecutive prime numbers (13 + 17 + 19 + 23 + 29 + 31 + 37 + 41 = 210)
(What would be the next primorial that is also the sum of consecutive prime numbers?)

EVENTS
1654 Pascal wrote a letter to Fermat  agreeing to a result of Fermat on aprobability problem about repeated rolls of a single die for a wager. "Impatience has seized me as well as it has you, and although I am still abed, I cannot refrain from telling you that I received your letter in regard to the problem of the points  yesterday evening from the hands of M. Carcavi, and that I admire it more than I can tell you. I do not have the leisure to write at length, but, in a word, you have found the two divisions of the points and of the dice with perfect justice. I am thoroughly satisfied as I can no longer doubt that I was wrong, seeing the admirable accord in which I find myself with you."  *York Univ Hist of Stats

1698 In a letter to John Bernoulli, Leibniz introduces the dot for multiplication..(cajori 233; vol 1 pg 267)  “The dot was introduced as a symbol for multiplication by G. W. Leibniz. On July 29, 1698, he wrote in a letter to John Bernoulli: “I do not like X as a symbol for multiplication, as it is easily confounded with x; … often I simply relate two quantities by an interposed dot and indicate multiplication by ZC · LM. Hence, in designating ratio I use not one point but two points, which I use at the same time for division.”

1739
D’Alembert, age 21, submitted his first mathematical paper to the Academy of Sciences. *VFR As his knowledge of mathematics was mainly due to self-study, he often found that others had already established his mathematical discoveries by more elegant and more direct means. In 1739 d’Alembert submitted his first paper to the French Académie Royale des Sciences, in which he described the errors found in the standard textbook, Analyse démontrée, written by Charles Reyneau. *webpage of Robert Nowland

1773 First schoolhouse West of the Alleghenies.*VFR (built in Schoenbrunn, OH.)

1867 Thomas Hill, president of Harvard College, who was also somewhat of a mathematician, wrote Benjamin Peirce, who was a professor there: “I have the honor of informing you that the University, on Commencement Day, conferred on you the Degree of Doctor of Laws in recognition of the transcendent ability with which you have pursued mathematical physical investigations, and in particular for the luster which she has herself for so many years borrowed from your genius.” [P. 10 of Benjamin Peirce, AMM offprint, 1925] *VFR

1958 President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act. NASA opened for business on 1 October 1958, and within a week launched Project Mercury—the start of the
U.S. manned space program. *VFR

2005, another candidate for tenth planet was announced by Mike Brown of California Institute of Technology. Its diameter is estimated at 2,100 miles - about 1-1/2 times that of Pluto. Its orbit is eccentric and inclined at about 45 degrees to the main plane of the solar system. It was named 2003 UB313 on a photograph made 31 Oct 2003. Later, its motion was recognized, on 8 Jan 2005. With orbits significantly inclined to the others, the status as a planet of either or even Pluto, is a subject for debate. They are in a region of numerous frozen comet-like objects beyond Neptune - the Kuiper Belt. The object Sedna - somewhat smaller than Pluto - was also found there in 2004. NASA also in an official statement referred to 2003 UB313 as a tenth planet*TIS

BIRTHS
1858 Francesco Gerbaldi (29 July 1858, La Spezia, Italy to 29 June 1934, Pavia, Italy) was an Italian geometer, who proved Gerbaldi's theorem. In geometry, Gerbaldi's theorem, proved by Gerbaldi (1882), states that one can find six pairwise apolar linearly independent nondegenerate ternary quadratic forms. These are permuted by the Valentiner group. (say that three times real fast) *Wik

1862 Eduard Brückner German pioneer climate researcher. He also studied the glaciers of the Alps and particularly the effect of the ice ages on the Earth's surface features. By analyzing direct and indirect observations of climatic fluctuations, he discovered the 35-year Brückner climatic cycle (1887) of swings between damp-cold and warm-dry conditions. He initiated scientific debate on whether climate change should be interpreted as a natural function of the Earth system, or whether it was influenced by man's activities, such as deforestation. He considered the impact of climate change on the balance of power between nations and its economic significance in agricultural productivity, emigration, river transportation and the spreading of diseases.*TIS

1898 Isidor Isaac Rabi was an American physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1944 for his invention (in 1937) of the atomic and molecular beam magnetic resonance method of measuring magnetic properties of atoms, molecules, and atomic nuclei. He spent most of his life at Columbia University (1929-67), where he performed most of his pioneering research in radar and the magnetic moment associated with electron spin in the 1930s and 1940s. His Nobel-winning work led to the invention of the laser, the atomic clock, and diagnostic uses of nuclear magnetic resonance. He originated the idea for the CERN nuclear research center in Geneva (founded 1954). *TIS

1912 Noel Bryan Slater, often cited NB Slater, (* 1912 in Blackburn , † January 31 1973 ) was a British mathematician and physicist who worked on including statistical mechanics and physical chemistry, and probability theory.*Wik

DEATHS
1839 Death of Gaspard de Prony. Cauchy was elected his successor at the Bureau des Longitudes but was not admitted as he refused to take the oath of allegiance. *VFR
In 1793, de Prony began a major task of producing logarithmic and trigonometric tables for the French Cadastre. The effort was begun at the request of the French National Assembly, which, after the French Revolution wanted to bring uniformity to the multiple measurements and standards used throughout the nation. The tables and their production were vast, with values calculated to between fourteen and twenty-nine decimal places. Inspired by Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, de Prony divided up the labor, bragging that he "could manufacture logarithms as easily as one manufactures pins."[4] At the top of the organizational hierarchy were scientists and mathematicians who devised the formulas. Next were workers who created the instructions for doing the calculations. At the bottom were about ninety "computers" (as they were called) who were not trained in mathematics, but who followed the instructions."
One of de Prony's important scientific inventions was the 'de Prony brake' which he invented in 1821 to measure the performance of machines and engines. He also was first to propose using a reversible pendulum to measure gravity, which was independently invented in 1817 by Henry Kater and became known as the Kater's pendulum. He also created a method of converting sinusoidal and exponential curves into a systems of linear equations. Prony estimation is used extensively in signal processing and finite element modelling of non linear materials. Prony was a member, and eventually president, of the French Academy of Science. He was also elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1810. His name is one of the 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower. *Wik

1898 John Alexander Reina Newlands, was a British chemist who first established an order of elements by the atomic weights, and observed a periodicity in the properties. Every eighth element has similar properties, hence he named the Law of Octaves (7 Feb 1863). It took another quarter century, and the work of others, such as Mendeleev, for the significance of his discovery to be recognized. He died in London.*TIS

1944 David Eugene Smith died in New York City at the age of eighty-four.*VFR Smith attended Syracuse University, graduating in 1881 (Ph. D., 1887; LL.D., 1905). He studied to be a lawyer concentrating in arts and humanities, but accepted an instructorship in mathematics at the Cortland Normal School in 1884. He also knew Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. He became a professor at the Michigan State Normal College in 1891, the principal at the State Normal School in Brockport, New York (1898), and a professor of mathematics at Teachers College, Columbia University (1901).
Smith became president of the Mathematical Association of America in 1920. He also wrote a large number of publications of various types. He was editor of the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society; contributed to other mathematical journals; published a series of textbooks; translated Klein's Famous Problems of Geometry, Fink's History of Mathematics, and the Treviso Arithmetic. He edited Augustus De Morgan's Budget of Paradoxes (1915) and wrote many books on Mathematics. *Wik

1962 Ronald Aylmer Fisher FRS (17 February 1890 – 29 July 1962) was an English statistician, evolutionary biologist, eugenicist and geneticist. Among other things, Fisher is well known for his contributions to statistics by creating Fisher's exact test and Fisher's equation. Anders Hald called him "a genius who almost single-handedly created the foundations for modern statistical science" while Richard Dawkins called him "the greatest of Darwin's successors". In 2010 Dawkins named him "the greatest biologist since Darwin". Fisher was opposed to the conclusions of Richard Doll and A.B. Hill that smoking caused lung cancer. He compared the correlations in their papers to a correlation between the import of apples and the rise of divorce in order to show that correlation does not imply causation.
To quote Yates and Mather, "It has been suggested that the fact that Fisher was employed as consultant by the tobacco firms in this controversy casts doubt on the value of his arguments. This is to misjudge the man. He was not above accepting financial reward for his labours, but the reason for his interest was undoubtedly his dislike and mistrust of puritanical tendencies of all kinds; and perhaps also the personal solace he had always found in tobacco."

After retiring from Cambridge University in 1957 he spent some time as a senior research fellow at the CSIRO in Adelaide, Australia. He died of colon cancer there in 1962.
He was awarded the Linnean Society of London's prestigious Darwin–Wallace Medal in 1958.
Fisher's important contributions to both genetics and statistics are emphasized by the remark of L.J. Savage, "I occasionally meet geneticists who ask me whether it is true that the great geneticist R.A. Fisher was also an important statistician"*Wik The stained glass window is from the Greatroom at Caius College.

1996 Marcel-Paul "Marco" Schützenberger (October 24, 1920 – July 29, 1996) was a French mathematician and Doctor of Medicine. His work had impact across the fields of formal language, combinatorics, and information theory.[1] In addition to his formal results in mathematics, he was "deeply involved in [a] struggle against the votaries of Darwinism,"[2] a stance which has resulted in some mixed reactions from his peers and from critics of his stance on evolution. Several notable theorems and objects in mathematics bear his name (for example Schutzenberger group).*Wik

2004 Walter Feit was an Austrian mathematician who (with John Thompson) proved one of the most important theorems about finite simple groups.*SAU

Credits:
*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*TIS= Today in Science History
*Wik = Wikipedia
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History
*CHM=Computer History Museum

Thursday, 28 July 2011

On This Day in Math - July 28



It appears to me that if one wishes to make progress in mathematics, 
one should study the masters and not the pupils.
Quoted in O Ore's, Niels Abel, Mathematician Extraordinary

The 209th day of the year; 209=16+25+34+43+52+61. Also 209 is a "Self number" A self number, Colombian number or Devlali number is an integer which, in a given base, cannot be generated by any other integer added to the sum of that other integer's digits. For example, 21 is not a self number, since it can be generated by the sum of 15 and the digits comprising 15, that is, 21 = 15 + 1 + 5. No such sum will generate the integer 20, hence it is a self number. These numbers were first described in 1949 by the Indian mathematician D. R. Kaprekar. students might want to explore self numbers for patterns
EVENTS
1619 Kepler wrote Napier expressing his enthusiasm for Napier’s invention of logarithms. *VFR

1851 July 28, 1851 First American eclipse expedition to Europe when George Phillips Bond (1825 - 1865) led a team to Scandinavia. *NSEC   In the transcription of his notes he wrote:

1851 A total solar eclipse was photographed for the first time. *VFR The first correctly-exposed photograph of the solar corona was made during the total phase of the solar eclipse of 28 July 1851 at Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) by a local daguerreotypist named Berkowski at the Royal Observatory in Königsberg, Prussia (now Kalinigrad in Russia). Berkowski, whose first name was never published, observed at the Royal Observatory. A small 6-cm refracting telescope was attached to the 15.8-cm Fraunhofer heliometer and a 84-second exposure was taken shortly after the beginning of totality.
United Kingdom astronomers, Robert Grant and William Swan, and Austrian astronomer Karl Ludwig von Littrow observed this eclipse and determined that prominences are part of the Sun because the Moon is seen to cover and uncover them as it moves in front of the Sun.*Wik


In 1858, fingerprints were used as a means of identification for the first time.*TIS The English first began using fingerprints in July of 1858, when Sir William James Herschel, Chief Magistrate of the Hooghly district in Jungipoor, India, first used fingerprints on native contracts. On a whim, and without thought toward personal identification, Herschel had Rajyadhar Konai, a local businessman, impress his hand print on a contract.
The idea was merely "... to frighten [him] out of all thought of repudiating his signature." The native was suitably impressed, and Herschel made a habit of requiring palm prints--and later, simply the prints of the right Index and Middle fingers--on every contract made with the locals. Personal contact with the document, they believed, made the contract more binding than if they simply signed it. Thus, the first wide-scale, modern-day use of fingerprints was predicated, not upon scientific evidence, but upon superstitious beliefs.
As his fingerprint collection grew, however, Herschel began to note that the inked impressions could, indeed, prove or disprove identity. While his experience with fingerprinting was admittedly limited, Sir William Herschel's private conviction that all fingerprints were unique to the individual, as well as permanent throughout that individual's life, inspired him to expand their use. *History of Fingerprints, Onin.com


1866 The first act (in the USA) legalizing the employment of the metric system was approved (14 Stat. L. 339). The act provided that it “shall be lawful throughout the United States of America to employ the weights and measures of the metric system.” *VFR

1882 The Institute of Accountants and Bookkeepers was organized in New York City. It was the first accounting society in the United States. *FFF

1899 Cantor asks Dedekind whether the set of all cardinal numbers is itself a set, because if it is it would have a cardinal number larger than any other cardinal. *VFR

1948 Allen Turing writes to Jack Good with an estimate of the number of neurons in the human brain. "I have repeatedly looked in books on neurology ... and never found any numbers offered. My own estimate is 3x108 to 3x109. " *Turing Archives


2061 Halley's comet will next reach perihelion. The comet last reached perihelion on 9 February 1986, and will reach it again on 28 July 2061 *Wik


BIRTHS
1849 Robert Scott studied at Cambridge and was elected to a fellowship. After a short time teaching he studied to be a barrister. He spent most of his career as Bursar and Master of St John's College Cambridge. He published a book on Determinants. *SAU

1867 Charles Dillon Perrine U.S. astronomer who discovered the sixth and seventh moons of Jupiter in 1904 and 1905, respectively. In 1904 he published a calculation of the solar parallax (a measure of the Earth-Sun distance) based on observations of the minor planet Eros during one of its close approaches to the Earth. *TIS


1928 John Bell's great achievement was that during the 1960s he was able to breathe new and exciting life into the foundations of quantum theory, a topic seemingly exhausted by the outcome of the Bohr-Einstein debate thirty years earlier, and ignored by virtually all those who used quantum theory in the intervening period. Bell was able to show that discussion of such concepts as 'realism', 'determinism' and 'locality' could be sharpened into a rigorous mathematical statement, 'Bell's inequality', which is capable of experimental test. Such tests, steadily increasing in power and precision, have been carried out over the last thirty years. *SAU


1954 Gerd Faltings was born in Gelsenkirchen-Buer, West Germany. In 1986 he received a Fields Medal for solving Mordell’s Conjecture using arithmetic algebraic geometry. *VFR He has also been closely linked with the work leading to the final proof of Fermat's Last Theorem by Andrew Wiles. In 1983 Faltings proved that for every n > 2 there are at most a finite number of coprime integers x, y, z with xn + yn = zn. This was a major step but a proof that the finite number was 0 in all cases did not seem likely to follow by extending Falting's arguments.
However, Faltings was the natural person that Wiles turned to when he wanted an opinion on the correctness of his repair of his proof of Fermat's Last Theorem in 1994.*TIS



DEATHS
1818 Gaspard Monge died in disgrace in Bourbon Paris, having been stripped of his place in the reorganized Acad´emie of 1816. Although he contributed to differential equations and the geom¬etry of surfaces, his special interest was descriptive geometry. Employed as a teacher, he made significant contributions to educational reform. [Ivor Grattan-Guiness, Convolutions in French Mathematics, 1800–1840, p. 616]
On the fall of Napoleon he was deprived of all his honors, and even excluded from the list of members of the reconstituted Institute. Monge died at Paris on 28 July 1818 and was interred in Le Père Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris, in a mausoleum. He was later transferred to the Panthéon. The mausoleum and Monge's bust remain in Le Père Lachaise Cemetery.
A statue portraying him was erected in his home town of Beaune, Côte-d'Ors in 1849. His name is one of the 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.

1968 Otto Hahn German chemist who, with the radiochemist Fritz Strassmann, is credited with the discovery of nuclear fission. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1944 and shared the Enrico Fermi Award in 1966 with Strassmann and Lise Meitner. Element 105 carries the name hahnium in recognition of his work.*TIS


1944 Sir Ralph Fowler -was a brilliant physicist. But it may be for his influence upon others that he is best known. In fact, no less than fifteen Fellows of the Royal Society and three Nobel Laureates were supervised by Fowler between 1922 and 1939. The total number supervised during this time was a staggering sixty-four giving him an average of eleven research students at any given time. One might be led to believe that this did not allow for any depth of relationship to form between him and his students. However, this was far from the truth of the matter. Those who studied under Fowler had a tremendous admiration for him. In particular, E A Milne [1] was especially taken by the man whom he fondly referred to as "the kind of man you can still remain friendly with, even when he has sold you a motor-bike; it is not possible to say more" and whom he called a "prince amongst men".
Aside from Milne, on whom he had a profound impact, he also had the opportunity of influencing the likes of Sir Arthur Eddington, Subramanian Chandrasekhar, Paul Dirac, Sir William McCrea, Lady Jeffreys and others either directly through supervision or indirectly through collaboration. Even in his personal life he was intimately connected with brilliant people having married Eileen, the only daughter of Lord Rutherford whom he met through Rutherford's Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge. Sometimes his influence was simply the fact that he was known to so many people. It was Fowler who ultimately introduced Paul Dirac to the burgeoning field of quantum theory in 1923 leading Dirac to the forefront of its ultimate discovery in 1925. Fowler also put Dirac and Werner Heisenberg in touch with each other through Niels Bohr. As Sir William McCrea simply put it: "he was the right man in the right place at the right time." *SAU
1968 Otto Hahn (8 Mar 1879; 28 Jul 1968 at age 89) German physical chemist who, with the radiochemist Fritz Strassmann, is credited with the discovery of nuclear fission. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1944 and shared the Enrico Fermi Award in 1966 with Strassmann and Lise Meitner. Element 105 carries the name hahnium in recognition of his work.*TIS

2000 Abraham Pais Dutch-American physicist and science historian whose research became the building blocks of the theory of elemental particles. He wrote Subtle Is the Lord: The Science and Life of Albert Einstein, which is considered the definitive Einstein biography. In Holland, his Ph.D. in physics was awarded on 9 Jul 1941, five days before a Nazi deadline banning Jews from receiving degrees. Later, during WW II, while in hiding to evade the Gestapo, he worked out ideas in quantum electrodynamics that he later shared when working with Niels Bohr (Jan - Aug 1946). In Sep 1946, he went to the U.S. to work with Robert Oppenheimer at Princeton, where Pais contributed to the foundations of the modern theory of particle physics.*TIS


2004 Francis Harry Compton Crick was a British biophysicist, who, with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins, received the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their determination of the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the chemical substance ultimately responsible for hereditary control of life functions. Crick and Watson began their collaboration in 1951, and published their paper on the double helix structure on 2 Apr 1953 in Nature. This accomplishment became a cornerstone of genetics and was widely regarded as one of the most important discoveries of 20th-century biology. *TIS

Credits:
*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*TIS= Today in Science History
*Wik = Wikipedia
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History
*CHM=Computer History Museum
*FFF=J. N. Kane Famous First Facts

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Did Einstein flunk math?

One widely held belief about Einstein is that he failed math as a student, an assertion that is made, often accompanied by the phrase “as everyone knows,” by scores of books and thousands of websites designed to reassure underachieving students. A Google search of Einstein failed math turns up more than 500,000 references. The allegation even made it into the famous “Ripley’s Believe it or Not!” newspaper column.

Alas, Einstein’s childhood offers history many savory ironies, but this is not one of them. In 1935, a rabbi in Princeton showed him a clipping of the Ripley’s column with the headline “Greatest living mathematician failed in mathematics.” Einstein laughed. “I never failed in mathematics,” he replied, correctly. “Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus.” In primary school, he was at the top of his class and “far above the school requirements” in math. By age 12, his sister recalled, “he already had a predilection for solving complicated problems in applied arithmetic,” and he decided to see if he could jump ahead by learning geometry and algebra on his own. His parents bought him the textbooks in advance so that he could master them over summer vacation. Not only did he learn the proofs in the books, he also tackled the new theories by trying to prove them on his own. He even came up on his own with a way to prove the Pythagorean theory. 
For more about Einstein, you can look at "Twenty Things You Need to Know About Einstein".  by  Walter Isaacson, which is the source of all of the above.  

My thanks to John D. Cook for putting me onto this site via his twitter @AnalysisFact.

Addendum:  I got a comment from Peter Krautzberger that added a little to the story.  He wrote, "In Germany the story is kept alive by Einstein's report card from school:


The misconception in this case is that both the German and the Swiss system uses grades 1-6 but in Germany 1 is the top grade while the Swiss have 6 as top grade."

Thanks for sharing Peter. From a German view, it does look like he did very poorly in school.