Wednesday, 20 September 2017

On This Day in Math - September 20

Here I am: My brain is open.
[As an itinerant scholar, this was greeting he often gave, ready to collaborate, upon arrival at the home of any mathematician colleague.]
~ Paul Erdös

The 263rd day of the year; 263 is an irregular prime. (an odd prime which divides the numerator of a Bernoulli Number) They became of great interest after 1850 when Kummer proved that Fermat's Last Theorem was true for any exponent that was a regular prime.

\( 263^2 = 69169 \) A strobogrammatic number (appears the same rotated by 180o.

263 is the sum of five consecutive primes, 263 = 43 + 47 + 53 + 59 + 61 , and the average of the primes on each side of it, \( 263 = \frac{257 + 269}{2} \)

1623 Schickard writes to Kepler about Schickard's new calculating machine:
What you have done by calculation I have just tried to do by way of mechanics. I have conceived a machine consisting of eleven complete and six incomplete sprocket wheels; it calculates instantaneously and automatically from given numbers, as it adds, subtracts, multiplies and divides. You would enjoy seeing how the machine accumulates and transports spontaneously a ten or a hundred to the left and, vice-versa, how it does the opposite if it is subtracting ..."
Long before Pascal and Leibniz, Schickard invented a calculating machine, the 'Rechenuhr', in 1623 *SAU

1756 David Rittenhouse at age 24, wrote to Thomas Barton about his interest in optics during the French Indian War. “I have no health for a soldier,…I am so taken with optics that I do not know whether, if the enemy should invade this part of the country, as Archimedes was slain while making geometrical figures on the sand, so I should die making a telescope.” Barton was a minister and a graduate of Trinity College Dublin. They had met when Barton came to teach at Norriton in 1751. They developed a friendship and Barton loaned Rittenhouse books with which he learned Latin and Greek. Later, Barton would marry Rittenhouse’s Sister, Esther. *Harpers Monthly Magazine, vol LXIV 1882,

1786 Galvani made the crucial experiment on "animal electricity" when he proved that a dead and “prepared” frog jumped without an external electric source, just by touching muscles and nerves with a metallic arc. The frog functioned as a Leyden jar; it was an electric engine. Galvani made a breakthrough that was judged revolutionary by all the scientists of his time. *Walter Bernardi, The Controversy on Animal Electricity (paper on web)

1848 The American Association for the Advancement of Science met for the first time, in Philadelphia. *VFR It was a reformation of the Association of American Geologists and Naturalists. The society chose William Charles Redfield as their first president because he had proposed the most comprehensive plans for the organization.*Wik

1916 The National Research Council met for the first time, in New York. President Woodrow Wilson founded it for “encouraging the investigation of natural phenomena” for American business and national security. *VFR

1948 John von Neumann gave his first lecture on the theory of automata. In this lecture, which was later published, he drew attention to the fundamental importance of the Universal Turing Machine. *A. Hodges, Alan Turing. The Enigma, p. 388

1954 Harlan Herrick of IBM runs the first successful FORTRAN program. *VFR (Anyone know what it did?) FORTRAN, which is an acronym for "FORmula TRANslator," was invented at IBM by a group led by John Backus. FORTRAN's purpose was to simplify the programming process by allowing the programmer ("coder") to use simple algebra-like expressions when writing software. It also took over the task of keeping track of where instructions were kept in memory--a very laborious and error-prone procedure when undertaken by humans. FORTRAN is still in use today in scientific and engineering applications, making it one of the oldest programming languages still in use (COBOL is another). *CHM
The image shows members of the original Fortran team at a reunion at the National Computer Conference in 1982 *IBM Icons of Progress

1973 Skylab III Crew Encounters Strange Object In Orbit.  On the 59th day of flight Skylab III, the three-man crew saw and photographed a strange red object (see photos). Not more than 30-50 nautical miles from them, Alan Bean, Owen Garriott and Jack Lousman reported the object was brighter than any of the planets. First UFO in space?


1842 Sir James Dewar (20 Sep 1842; 27 Mar 1923) British chemist and physicist. Blurring the line between physics and chemistry, he advanced the research frontier in several fields at the turn of the century, and gave dazzling lectures. His study of low-temperature phenomena entailed making an insulating double-walled flask of his own design by creating a vacuum between the two silvered layers of steel or glass (1892). This Dewar flask that has been named for him led to the domestic Thermos bottle. In June 1897, The Scientific American reported that "Dewar has just succeeded in liquefying fluorine gas at a temperature of -185 degrees C." He obtained liquid hydrogen in 1898. Dewar also invented cordite, the first smokeless powder.*TIS  In his book, Napoleon's Hemorrhoids, Phil Mason points out that Dewar never patented his vacuum flask.  His student, Reinhold Burger saw the commercial potential and began making the devices in Germany in 1904 under the patented name, thermos, Greek for heat.  Dewar was knighted, and Reinhold made millions.

1842 Alexander Wilhelm von Brill (20 Sept 1842, 8 June 1935) It is clear that Brill was much influenced by being a colleague of Klein's for five years and the influence would show up in many different ways throughout Brill's career. Brill taught a remarkably talented collection of students while at the Technische Hochschule in Munich including, for example Hurwitz, von Dyck, Rohn, Runge, Planck, Bianchi and Ricci-Curbastro. Although Klein left Munich in 1880, Brill was to remain there for a few more years, taking up the chair of mathematics in the University of Tübingen in 1884. Brill held this chair until he retired in 1918 at the age of 76, but continued to live and do mathematics in Tübingen after his retirement until his death at age 92.
He contributed to the study of algebraic geometry, trying to bring the rigour of algebra into the study of curves. In 1874 he published a joint work with Max Noether on properties of algebraic functions which are invariant under birational transformations. His work allowed the notion of genus of a curve, introduced by Clebsch, to be extended to singular and non-singular curves. In 1894 he wrote, again in collaboration with Max Noether, an extremely important survey of the development of the theory of algebraic functions.Brill also wrote on determinants, elliptic functions, special curves and surfaces. He wrote articles on the methodology of mathematics and on theoretical mechanics. At age 87 he wrote a book on Kepler's astronomy. *SAU

1887 Erich Hecke  (20 September 1887 – 13 February 1947) was a German mathematician. He obtained his doctorate in Göttingen under the supervision of David Hilbert. Kurt Reidemeister and Heinrich Behnke were among his students.
Hecke was born in Buk, Posen, Germany (now Poznań, Poland), and died in Copenhagen, Denmark. His early work included establishing the functional equation for the Dedekind zeta function, with a proof based on theta functions. The method extended to the L-functions associated to a class of characters now known as Hecke characters or idele class characters: such L-functions are now known as Hecke L-functions. He devoted most of his research to the theory of modular forms, creating the general theory of cusp forms (holomorphic, for GL(2)), as it is now understood in the classical setting.*Wik

1915 Joseph Waksberg, (20 September 1915, 10 January 2006) born in Kielce, Poland, came to the United States with his family in 1921. He joined the Census Bureau in 1940, remaining there for 33 years. He then joined the stat-research firm Westat, becoming Chairman of the Board in 1990, taking over for Morris Hansen. Also, from 1967 to 1997, he served as a consultant to CBS and other TV networks for Election Night analysis.
Mr. Waksberg's 1978 paper in JASA, "Sampling Methods for Random Digit Dialing", resulted in the Mitofsky-Waksberg Method of RDD. [For a description of the Method, see the Sept 17th posting for Warren Mitofsky.] Generally, Warren Mitofsky developed the Method intuitively and Waksberg, on Mitofsky's request, developed it mathematically, resulting in his 1978 paper. *David Bee


1804 Pierre (-François-André) Méchain (16 Aug 1744, 20 Sep 1804) was a French astronomer and hydrographer at the naval map archives in Paris recruited by Jean Delambre. He was a mathematical prodigy. In 1790, they were chosen by the National Assembly to establish a decimal system of measurement based on the meter. Since this was defined to be one ten-millionth of the distance between the Earth's pole and the equator, Mechain led a survey of the meridian arc from Dunkirk, France, to Barcelona, Spain. Through his astronomical observations, Mechain discovered 11 comets and provided 26 additions to Messier's catalog. He calculated the orbits of the two comets he found in 1781. Mechain died of yellow fever while making further surveys for the meridian measurement. *TIS

1873 Giovanni Battista Donati (16 Dec 1826, 20 Sep 1873) Italian astronomer who, on 5 Aug 1864, was first to observe the spectrum of a comet (Tempel 1864 II), showing not merely reflected sunlight but also spectral lines from luminous gas forming the comet tail when near the Sun. Earlier, he discovered the comet known as Donati's Comet at Florence, on 2 Jun 1858. When the comet was nearest the earth, its triple tail had an apparent length of 50°, more than half the distance from the horizon to the zenith and corresponding to the enormous linear figure of more than 72 million km (about 45 million mi). With an orbital period estimated at more than 2000 years, it will not return until about the year 4000.*TIS This comet is often called the 2nd most brilliant of the 19th Century. 

1878 George Parker Bidder (13 June 1806 – 20 September 1878) was an English engineer and calculating prodigy. Born in the town of Moretonhampstead, Devon, England, he displayed a natural skill at calculation from an early age. In childhood, his father, William Bidder, a stonemason, exhibited him as a "calculating boy", first in local fairs up to the age of six, and later around the country. In this way his talent was turned to profitable account, but his general education was in danger of being completely neglected.
Still many of those who saw him developed an interest in his education, a notable example being Sir John Herschel. His interest led him to arrange it so George could be sent to school in Camberwell. There he did not remain long, being removed by his father, who wished to exhibit him again, but he was saved from this misfortune and enabled to attend classes at the University of Edinburgh, largely through the kindness of Sir Henry Jardine,
On leaving college in 1824 he received a post in the ordnance survey, but gradually drifted into engineering work.
Bidder died at Dartmouth, Devon and was buried at Stoke Fleming.
His son, George Parker Bidder, Jr. (1836–1896), who inherited much of his father's calculating power, was a successful parliamentary counsel and an authority on cryptography. His grandson, also named George Parker Bidder, became a marine biologist and president of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom from 1939 to 1945. *Wik

1882 Charles Auguste Briot (19 July 1817,  20 Sept 1882) undertook research on analysis, heat, light and electricity. His first major work on analysis was Recherches sur la théorie des fonctions which he published in the Journal of the École Polytechnique in 1859, and he also published this work as a treatise in the same year. His researches on heat, light and electricity was all based on his theories of the aether. He was strongly influenced in developing these theories by Louis Pasteur, the famous chemist. Of course Pasteur was a great scientist, but Briot had an additional reason to hold him in high esteem for, like himself and his friend Bouquet, Pasteur was brought up in the Doubs region of France.
In 1859 Briot and Bouquet published their important two volume treatise on doubly periodic functions. They published another joint effort in 1875 when their treatise on elliptic functions appeared. In this same year they published a second edition to their two volume work of 1859. In 1879 Briot, this time in a single author work, produced his treatise on abelian functions. The physical motivation for the mathematical theories which gave rise to this work in analysis was published by Briot in 1864 when he published his work on light, Essai sur la théorie mathématique de la lumière and five years later when he published his work on heat, Théorie mécanique de la chaleur.
We noted above that Briot was a dedicated teacher and as such he wrote a great number of textbooks for his students. This was certainly a tradition in France at this time and it was natural for a teacher of Briot's quality to write up his courses as textbooks. He wrote textbooks which covered most of the topics from a mathematics course: arithmetic, algebra, calculus, geometry, analytic geometry, and mechanics. For his outstanding contributions to mathematics the Académie des Sciences in Paris awarded Briot their Poncelet Prize in 1882 shortly before he died. *SAU

1930 Moritz Pasch (8 Nov 1843, 20 Sept 1930) was a German mathematician who worked on the foundations of geometry. He found a number of assumptions in Euclid that nobody had noticed before. "Pasch's analysis relating to the order of points on a line and in the plane is both striking and pertinent to its understanding. Every student can draw diagrams and see that if a point B is between A and a point C, then C is not between A and B, or that every line divides a plane into two parts. But no one before Pasch had laid a basis for dealing logically with such observations. These matters may have been considered too obvious; but the result of such neglect is the need to refer constantly to intuition, so that the logical status of what is being done cannot become clear." *SAU

1939 Karl Hermann Brunn (August 1, 1862 – September 20, 1939) was a German mathematician, known for his work in convex geometry and in knot theory. He is recognized with the Brunn–Minkowski inequality and in Brunnian links in knot theory. A Brunnian link is a nontrivial link that becomes trivial if any component is removed. In other words, cutting any loop frees all the other loops (so that no two loops can be directly linked).
1982 Frederick Bath graduated from Bristol and Cambridge and held posts at King's College London, University College Dundee, St Andrews and Edinburgh. He worked in Geometry. He was president of the EMS in 1938 and 1939. *SAU

1996 Paul Erdös ( 26 Mar 1913, 20 Sep 1996) Hungarian mathematician, who was one of the century's top math experts and pioneered the fields of number theory and combinatorics. The type of mathematics he worked on were beautiful problems that were simple to understand, but notoriously difficult to solve. At age 20, he discovered a proof for a classic theorem of number theory that states that there is always at least one prime number between any positive integer and its double. In the 1930s, he studied in England and moved to the USA by the late 1930s when his Jewish origins made a return to Hungary impossible. Affected by McCarthyism in the 1950s, he spent much of the next ten years in Israel. Writing his many hundreds of papers made him one of history's most prolific mathematicians. *TIS (I learned of his death after some students in my Pre-calc class told me on the 21st. He was one of my favorites and I had been talking about him just days before. They had seen it on the morning news)

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 M = Women of Mathematics, Grinstein & Campbell

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

On This Day in Math - September 19

Mankind will not remain on the earth forever, but, in search of light and space, will at first timidly penetrate beyond the limits of the atmosphere and then finally conquer the spaces of the solar system.
— Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky
tombstone inscription

The 262nd day of the year; 262 is the 5th meandric number. A meander is a self-avoiding closed curve which intersects a line a number of times. Intuitively, a meander can be viewed as a straight road crossing a river over a number of bridges.[ The term meander is drawn from the Greek name of an actual winding river, the Maiandros.]

262 is the number of equilateral triangles formed out of matches in a hexagonal chunk with four matchsticks on a side..(Can you find the 38 equilaterals in the hexagon with two matchsticks on a side)


1648 The theory of atmospheric pressure and the existence of a vacuum were confirmed by experiments designed by Blaise Pascal.*VFR

1680 Francis and Mary Huntrodds die within five hours on their mutual birthday, and marriage anniversary. Statisticians sometimes hold "probability" parties in honor of Huntrodd's Day. *David Spiegelhalter,

1783 The brothers Montgolfier repeated their experiment of 4 June 1783, in the presence of Louis XVI at Versailles. At one o’clock the crowd went wild as the balloon soared gracefully free carrying a rooster, a sheep, and a duck.*VFR

In 1848, Hyperion, moon of Saturn, discovered by William Cranch Bond(US), George Phillips Bond(US) and William Lassell(UK)*TIS  It was the first non-round moon to be discovered. Hyperion's discovery came shortly after John Herschel had suggested names for the seven previously-known satellites of Saturn in his 1847 publication Results of Astronomical Observations made at the Cape of Good Hope. Lassell, who saw Hyperion two days after William Bond, had already endorsed Herschel's naming scheme and suggested the name Hyperion in accordance with it. He also beat Bond to publication. *Wik

1861 Russian chemist Alexander Butlerov first presented a definition for "chemical structure".
Chemical structure refers to the way atoms are arranged within molecules. Butlerov realised that chemical compounds are not a random cluster of atoms and functional groups, but structures with definite order. *

1894 In a letter to Felix Klein (19 September 1894) Peano wrote: “The purpose of mathematical logic is to analyze the ideas and reasoning that especially figure in the mathematical sciences.” Peano was neither a logicist nor a formalist. He believed rather that mathematical ideas are ultimately derived from our experience of the material world. *Hubert Kennedy, "Eight Mathematical Biographies" Pg 27

1994   Andrew Wiles has an "AHA" moment,    Over the course of three lectures delivered at Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences on June 21, 22, and 23 of 1993, Wiles had announced his proof of the Taniyama–Shimura conjecture, and hence of Fermat's Last Theorem. There was a relatively large amount of press coverage afterwards.
After announcing his results, (Nick) Katz was a referee on his manuscript and he asked Wiles a series of questions that led Wiles to recognize that the proof contained a gap. There was an error in a critical portion of the proof which gave a bound for the order of a particular group: the Euler system used to extend Flach's method was incomplete. Wiles and his former student Richard Taylor spent almost a year resolving it. Wiles indicates that on the morning of September 19, 1994 he realized that the specific reason why the Flach approach would not work directly suggested a new approach with the Iwasawa theory which resolved all of the previous issues with the latter and resulted in a CNF that was valid for all of the required cases. On 6 October Wiles sent the new proof to three colleagues including Faltings. The new proof was published and, despite its size, widely accepted as likely correct in its major components. *Wik

1995 Ahoy Matey,  International "Talk Like a Pirate Day is born"  is a parodic holiday created in 1995 by John Baur (Ol' Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap'n Slappy), of Albany, Oregon, who proclaimed September 19th each year as the day when everyone in the world should talk like a pirate.For example, an observer of this holiday  would greet friends not with "Hello," but with "Ahoy, matey!" The  holiday, and its observance, springs from a romanticized view of the Golden Age of Piracy. *Wik

2009  at the autumn meeting of the British Society for the History of Mathematics (BSHM), The Archimedes Codex by Reviel Netz and William Noel was awarded the Neumann Prize for the best book in the history of mathematics aimed a broad audience. Reviel Netz is Professor of Classics at Stanford University, California, and Dr William Noel is the curator of manuscripts and rare books at The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
The prize was awarded for the first time this year and will henceforth be bestowed every two years. The prize is named after Dr Peter Neumann, Emeritus Fellow of The Queen’s College, Oxford, and a former president of the BSHM. He was awarded the OBE in 2008 for his services to education.
The Archimedes Codex is a biography of one of the ancient world’s greatest mathematicians Archimedes of Syracuse (c.287 BC – c.212 BC) and tells the story of the rediscovery of a 10th-century copy of some of his writings and drawings, which were found hidden beneath a 13th-century prayer book. *History Today, September 23, 2009


1749 Jean-Baptiste Joseph Delambre (19 Sep 1749; 18 Aug 1822)  He conducted a geodetic survey be-tween Dunkerque and Rodez which was instrumental in establishing the length of the meter. *VFR

1840 John Emory McClintock (19 Sept 1840 , 10 July 1916) for many years the leading actuary in America. He published 30 papers between 1868 and 1877 on actuarial questions. His publications were not confined to questions relating to life insurance policies however. He published about 22 papers on mathematical topics. One paper treats difference equations as differential equations of infinite order and others look at quintic equations which are soluble algebraically. He published A simplified solution of the cubic in 1900 in the Annals of Mathematics. Another work, On the nature and use of the functions employed in the recognition of quadratic residues (1902), published in the Transactions of the American Mathematical Society, is on quadratic residues.*SAU

1888 James Waddell Alexander (19 Sep 1888; 23 Sept 1971) American mathematician and a founder of the branch of mathematics originally known as analysis situs, now called topology. In 1912, he joined the faculty of the mathematics department at Princeton. Soon after, Alexander generalised the Jordan curve theorem and, in 1928, he discovered the Alexander polynomial which is much used in knot theory.*TIS

1908 Victor Frederick Weisskopf (September 19, 1908 – April 22, 2002) was an Austrian-born American theoretical physicist. He did postdoctoral work with Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, Wolfgang Pauli and Niels Bohr.[1] During World War II he worked at Los Alamos on the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb, and later campaigned against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
His brilliance in physics led to work with the great physicists exploring the atom, especially Niels Bohr, who mentored Weisskopf at his institute in Copenhagen. By the late 1930s, he realized that, as a Jew, he needed to get out of Europe. Bohr helped him find a position in the U.S.
In the 1930s and 1940s, 'Viki', as everyone called him, made major contributions to the development of quantum theory, especially in the area of Quantum Electrodynamics.[3] One of his few regrets was that his insecurity about his mathematical abilities may have cost him a Nobel prize when he did not publish results (which turned out to be correct) about what is now known as the Lamb shift. *Wik

1964  Simon Singh (19 September, 1964 - )In 1950 my parents emigrated to Taunton. A few years later they moved to Wellington, and that is where I was born. Somerset is a fertile ground for budding scientists. Just 5 miles from where I was born is the town of Milverton, the birthplace of Thomas Young, the polymath who made breakthroughs in a wide range of subjects. Most important of all, he advocated the wave theory of light. He studied at Emmanuel College Cambridge, and in due I course I attended the same college, but I failed to make any significant contributions to the foundations of physics.
Before starting my physics degree at Imperial College, London, I spent a year at GEC Hirst Research Centre, Wembley, working on gallium arsenide monolithic microwave integrated circuits. GEC were sponsoring me during my studies. It was an interesting year and I grew up a bit, but the main lesson I learned was that my future did not rest in industrial research and development.
My PhD in experimental particle physics was based at Cambridge University, but I spent most of my three years working at the European Centre for Particle Physics (CERN) in Geneva. I worked as part of the UA2 collaboration, which had previously won the Nobel Prize for discovering the W and Z bosons. It was a wonderful three years.
Particle physics was great fun. My three years at Cambridge and CERN were challenging and stimulating. However, I could see that there were people around me who were on a different planet when it came to understanding and researching physics, and it would be they who would go on to make their names as pioneers. As for me, it was time to change career. I had always enjoyed talking about and explaining science, so I took the decision to move towards a career in journalism and science communication. In particular, I have always loved television and felt that this was the most influential medium, so I started applying for a job at the BBC.  *From his personal biography on his web page. 
Simon Singh is the author of numerous popular science books, including the one below:


1710 Olaus Roemer, (25 Sep 1644 - 19 Sep 1710) Danish astronomer,  He was the first to measure the speed of light. *VFR  Astronomer who demonstrated conclusively that light travels at a finite speed. He measured the speed by precisely measuring the length of time between eclipses of Jupiter by one of its moons. This observation produces different results depending on the position of the earth in its orbit around the sun. He reasoned that meant light took longer to travel the greater distance when earth was traveling in its orbit away from Jupiter.*TIS

1761 Pieter van Musschenbroek (14 Mar 1692; 19 Sep 1761 at age 69) Dutch mathematician and physicist who invented the Leyden jar, the first effective device for storing static electricity. He grew up in a family that manufactured scientific instruments such as telescopes, microscopes and air pumps. Before Musschenbroek's invention, static electricity had been produced by Guericke using a sulphur ball, with minor effects. In Jan 1746, Musschenbroek placed water in a metal container suspended on silk cords, and led a brass wire through a cork into the water. He built up a charge in the water. When an unwary assistant touched the metal container and the brass wire, the discharge from this apparatus delivered a substantial shock of static electricity. The Leyden name is linked to the discovery having being made at the University of Leiden. *TIS

1843 Gaspard Gustave de Coriolis (21 May 1792, 19 Sept 1843) Coriolis is best remembered for the Coriolis force. He showed that the laws of motion could be used in a rotating frame of reference if an extra force called the Coriolis acceleration is added to the equations of motion. *SAU

1935 Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky (17 Sep 1857, 19 Sep 1935) Russian pioneer space theorist who, while a provincial Russian schoolteacher, worked out many of the principles of space travel. In 1883, he noted that vehicle in space would travel in the opposite direction to gas that it emitted, and was the first to seriously propose this method propulsion in space travel. He wrote various papers, including the 1903 article "Exploration of Space with Reactive Devices."  The engineering equations he derived included parameters such as specific impulse, thrust coefficient and area ratio. He established that the most efficient chemical combination would be that of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. He was later recognized by the Soviet Union as the "father of cosmonautics." He also built the first wind tunnel.*TIS  (He is buried at the Park of the Cosmonauts' Museum, Kaluga Province, Russian Federation)

1968 Chester Floyd Carlson (8 Feb 1906, 19 Sep 1968) American physicist who invented xerography (22 Oct 1938), an electrostatic dry-copying process that found applications ranging from office copying to reproducing out-of-print books. The process involved sensitizing a photoconductive surface to light by giving it an electrostatic charge Carlson developed it between 1934 and 1938, and initially described it as electrophotography It was immediately protected by Carlson with an impenetrable web of patents, though it was not until 1944 that he was able to obtain funding for further development. In 1947 he sold the commercial rights for his invention to the Haloid Company, a small manufacturer of photographic paper (which later became the Xerox Corporation).*TIS

2010 Joseph Bernard Kruskal, Jr. (January 29, 1928 – September 19, 2010) was an American mathematician, statistician, computer scientist and psychometrician. He was a student at the University of Chicago and at Princeton University, where he completed his Ph.D. in 1954, nominally under Albert W. Tucker and Roger Lyndon, but de facto under Paul Erdős with whom he had two very short conversations.Kruskal has worked on well-quasi-orderings and multidimensional scaling.
He was a Fellow of the American Statistical Association, former president of the Psychometric Society, and former president of the Classification Society of North America.
In statistics, Kruskal's most influential work is his seminal contribution to the formulation of multidimensional scaling. In computer science, his best known work is Kruskal's algorithm for computing the minimal spanning tree (MST) of a weighted graph. In combinatorics, he is known for Kruskal's tree theorem (1960), which is also interesting from a mathematical logic perspective since it can only be proved nonconstructively. Kruskal also applied his work in linguistics, in an experimental lexicostatistical study of Indo-European languages, together with the linguists Isidore Dyen and Paul Black.
Kruskal was born in New York City to a successful fur wholesaler, Joseph B. Kruskal, Sr. His mother, Lillian Rose Vorhaus Kruskal Oppenheimer, became a noted promoter of Origami during the early era of television.  He died in Princeton. *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

Monday, 18 September 2017

On This Day in Math - September 18

Lisez Euler, lisez Euler, c'est notre maître à tous.
(Read Euler, read Euler, he is our master in everything.)

—~Pierre-Simon Laplace

The 261st day of the year; 261 is the number of possible unfolded tesseract patterns. (I  just learned recently that Charles Howard Hinton coined the term tesseract  (4-dimensional "cube").  He is also the inventor of the baseball  pitching gun.) (see Baseball and the Fourth Dimension)

If you draw diagonals in a 16 sided polygon, it is possible to dissect it into 7 quadrilaterals.  There are 261 unique  ways to  make this dissection. 


1820 André Marie AMPÈRE describes electromagnetic effect.  On 11 September 1820 he heard of H. C. Ørsted's discovery that a magnetic needle is acted on by a voltaic current. Only a week later, on 18 September, Ampère presented a paper to the Academy containing a much more complete exposition of that and kindred phenomena. On the same day, Ampère also demonstrated before the Academy that parallel wires carrying currents attract or repel each other, depending on whether currents are in the same (attraction) or in opposite directions (repulsion). This laid the foundation of electrodynamics.*Wik.

In 1830, B&O locomotive Tom Thumb, the first locomotive built in America, lost in a 14-km race with a horse due to a boiler leak.*TIS

1846  Le Verrier transmits his most famous achievement, his prediction of the existence of the then unknown planet Neptune, using only mathematics and astronomical observations of the known planet Uranus. Encouraged by physicist Arago Director of the Paris Observatory, Le Verrier was intensely engaged for months in complex calculations to explain small but systematic discrepancies between Uranus's observed orbit and the one predicted from the laws of gravity of Newton. At the same time, but unknown to Le Verrier, similar calculations were made by John Couch Adams in England. Le Verrier announced his final predicted position for Uranus's unseen perturbing planet publicly to the French Academy on 31 August 1846, two days before Adams's final solution, which turned out to be 12° off the mark, was privately mailed to the Royal Greenwich Observatory. Le Verrier transmitted his own prediction by 18 September letter to Johann Galle of the Berlin Observatory. The letter arrived five days later, and the planet was found with the Berlin Fraunhofer refractor that same evening, 23 September 1846, by Galle and Heinrich d'Arrest within 1° of the predicted location near the boundary between Capricorn and Aquarius.*Wik

1948 Alan Turing writes to Jack Good and mentions, "Chess machine designed by Champ and myself..". *Turing Archive


1752 Adrien-Marie Legendre (18 Sep 1752; 10 Jan 1833) French mathematician who contributed to number theory, celestial mechanics and elliptic functions. In 1794, he was put in charge of the French government's department that was standardizing French weights and measures. In 1813, he took over as head of the Bureau des Longitudes upon the death of Lagrange, its former chief. It was in a paper on celestial mechanics concerning the motion of planets (1784) that he first introduced the Legendre Polynomials. His provided outstanding work on elliptic functions (1786), and his classic treatise on the theory of numbers (1798) and also worked on the method of least squares. *TIS

1819 Jean Bernard Léon Foucault (18 Sep 1819; 11 Feb 1868) French physicist whose Foucault Pendulum experimentally proved that the Earth rotates on its axis (6 Jan 1851). Using a long pendulum with a heavy bob, he showed its plane rotated at a rate related to Earth's angular velocity and the latitude of the site. He studied medicine and physics and became an assistant at the Paris Observatory (1855). He invented an accurate test of a lens for chromatic and spherical aberations. Working with Fizeau, and also independently, he made accurate measurements of the absolute velocity of light. In 1850, Foucault showed that light travels slower in water than in air. He also built a gyroscope (1852), the Foucault's prism (1857) and made improvements for mirrors of reflecting telescopes. *TIS (a brief biography of Foucault is here)

1839 John Aitken (18 Sep 1839; 14 Nov 1919) Scottish physicist and meteorologist who, through a series of experiments and observations in which he used apparatus of his own design, elucidated the crucial role that microscopic particles, now called Aitken nuclei, play in the condensation of atmospheric water vapour in clouds and fogs. Ill health prevented Aitken from holding any official position; he worked instead in the laboratory in his home in Falkirk. Much of his work was published in the journals of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, of which he was a member.*TIS

1854 Sir Richard Tetley Glazebrookb(18 Sep 1854; 15 Dec 1935) English physicist who was the first director of the UK National Physical Laboratory, from 1 Jan 1900 until his retirement in Sep 1919. At first, the laboratory's income depended on much routine, commercial testing, but Glazebrook championed fundamental, industrially oriented research. With support from individual donors, buildings were added for electrical work, metrology, and engineering. Data useful to the shipbuilding industry was collected in pioneering experimental work on models of ships made possible by a tank funded by Alfred Yarrow (1908). From 1909, laboratory began work benefitting the embryonic aeronautics industry, at the request of the secretary of state for war. The lab to contributed substantially to military needs during WW I *TIS

1907 Edwin Mattison McMillan (Sep 18, 1907 - September 7, 1991) McMillan was an American physicist and Nobel laureate credited with being the first-ever to produce a transuranium element, neptunium. For this, he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Glenn Seaborg in 1951.
McMillan and his colleagues discovered the elements neptunium (Np) and plutonium (Pu), the two elements following uranium (U) in the periodic table. Their names were inspired by the position of the planets in the solar system - Neptune is beyond Uranus and Pluto (before being declassified as a planet) is beyond Neptune. *

1863 William Henry Metzler (18 Sept 1863, 18 April 1943) was a Canadian mathematician who graduated from Toronto University and taught at Syracuse University and Albany Teachers Training College, both in New York State. He published papers on the theory of matrices and determinants, several of them in the Proceedings of the EMS. *SAU

1926 James Cooley, (September 18, 1926 - ) co-creator of the fast Fourier transform, was born. Working with John Tukey, Cooley in 1965 worked out a vast improvement to a common mathematical algorithm called the Fourier transform. Although the algorithm had been useful in computing, its complexity required too much time. While working at IBM, Cooley built on Tukey's ideas for a swifter version. *CHM


1783 Leonhard Euler dies (15 Apr 1707, 18 Sep 1783) . After having discussed the topics of the day, the Montgolfiers, and the discovery of Uranus, “He [Euler] ceased to calculate and to live,”according to the oft-quoted words of de Condorcet. *VFR   Swiss mathematician and physicist, one of the founders of pure mathematics. He not only made decisive and formative contributions to the subjects of geometry, calculus, mechanics, and number theory but also developed methods for solving problems in observational astronomy and demonstrated useful applications of mathematics in technology. At age 28, he blinded one eye by staring at the sun while working to invent a new way of measuring time. *TIS (Students who have not, should read Dunham's "Euler, The Master of us All")

1891 William Ferrel (born 29 Jan 1817, 18 Sep 1891) American meteorologist was an important contributor to the understanding of oceanic and atmospheric circulation. He was able to show the interrelation of the various forces upon the Earth 's surface, such as gravity, rotation and friction. Ferrel was first to mathematically demonstrate the influence of the Earth's rotation on the presence of high and low pressure belts encircling the Earth, and on the deflection of air and water currents. The latter was a derivative of the effect theorized by Gustave de Coriolis in 1835, and became known as Ferrel's law. Ferrel also considered the effect that the gravitational pull of the Sun and Moon might have on the Earth's rotation and concluded (without proof, but correctly) that the Earth's axis wobbles a bit. *TIS (A more complete biography is here)

1896 Armand Hippolyte Fizeau (23 Sep 1819, 18 Sep 1896) French physicist was the first to measure the speed of light successfully without using astronomical calculations (1849). Fizeau sent a narrow beam of light between gear teeth on the edge of a rotating wheel. The beam then traveled to a mirror 8 km/5 mi away and returned to the wheel where, if the spin were fast enough, a tooth would block the light. Knowing this time from the rotational speed of the wheel, and the mirror's distance, Fizeau directly measured the speed of light. He also found that light travels faster in air than in water, which confirmed the wave theory of light, and that the motion of a star affects the position of the lines in its spectrum. With Jean Foucault, he proved the wave nature of  the Sun's heat rays by showing their interference (1847). *TIS

1913 Samuel Roberts FRS (15 December 1827, Horncastle, Lincolnshire – 18 September 1913, London) was a British mathematician.
Roberts studied at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Horncastle. He matriculated in 1845 at the University of London, where he earned in 1847 his bachelor's degree in mathematics and in 1849 his master's degree in mathematics and physics, as first in his class. Next he studied law and became a solicitor in 1853. After a few years of law practice he abandoned his law career and returned to mathematics, although he never had an academic position. He had his first mathematical paper published in 1848. In 1865 he was an important participant in the founding of the London Mathematical Society (LMS). From 1866 to 1892 he acted as legal counsel for LMS, from 1872 to 1880 he was the organization's treasurer, and from 1880 to 1882 its president. In 1896 he received the De Morgan Medal of the LMS. In 1878 he was elected FRS.
Roberts published papers in several fields of mathematics, including geometry, interpolation theory, and Diophantine equations.
Roberts and Pafnuty Chebyschev are jointly credited with the Roberts-Chebyshev theorem related to four-bar linkages *Wik

1967 Sir John Douglas Cockcroft (27 May 1897, 18 Sep 1967) British physicist, who shared (with Ernest T.S. Walton of Ireland) the 1951 Nobel Prize for Physics for pioneering the use of particle accelerators to study the atomic nucleus. Together, in 1929, they built an accelerator, the Cockcroft-Walton generator, that generated large numbers of particles at lower energies - the first atom-smasher. In 1932, they used it to disintegrate lithium atoms by bombarding them with protons, the first artificial nuclear reaction not utilizing radioactive substances. They conducted further research on the splitting of other atoms and established the importance of accelerators as a tool for nuclear research. Their accelerator design became one of the most useful in the world's laboratories. *TIS

1977 Paul Isaak Bernays (17 Oct 1888, 18 Sep 1977) Swiss mathematician and logician who is known for his attempts to develop a unified theory of mathematics. Bernays, influenced by Hilbert's thinking, believed that the whole structure of mathematics could be unified as a single coherent entity. In order to start this process it was necessary to devise a set of axioms on which such a complete theory could be based. He therefore attempted to put set theory on an axiomatic basis to avoid the paradoxes. Between 1937 and 1954 Bernays wrote a whole series of articles in the Journal of Symbolic Logic which attempted to achieve this goal. In 1958 Bernays published Axiomatic Set Theory in which he combined together his work on the axiomatisation of set theory. *TIS

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

Sunday, 17 September 2017

On This Day in Math - September 17

God is a child; and when he began to play, he cultivated mathematics. 
It is the most godly of man's games.
~V Erath

The 260th day of the year; 260 is the constant for each row, column and diagonal of the first known(1891) 8x8 bimagic square.
The 8x8 is the smallest order possible for a bimagic square (the squares of the numbers also form a magic square) that uses consecutive digits. The constant for the magic square formed by the squares is 11,180.
More on the first of these in 1891 at the Feb 1 On This Day in Math.

260 is also the sum of the squares of the divisors of 15. /( 260 = 1^2 + 3^2 + 5^2 + 15^2 /)


In 1683, the Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek wrote to the Royal Society reporting his discovery of microscopic living animalcules (live bacteria). He had made observations on the plaque between his own teeth, "a little white matter, which is as thick as if 'twere batter." Looking at these samples with his microscope, Leeuwenhoek reported how in his own mouth: "I then most always saw, with great wonder, that in the said matter there were many very little living animalcules, very prettily a-moving. The biggest sort. . . had a very strong and swift motion, and shot through the water (or spittle) like a pike does through the water. The second sort. . .oft-times spun round like a top. . . and these were far more in number." *TIS

1787 U.S. Constitution signed. Its format was influenced by the axiomatic approach of Euclidean Geometry. *VFR (I would appreciate insight into what this means? comments? Suggestions? Wild guesses?)

1871 Opening of the Mount Cenis (Fréjus) Tunnel (1857-70) through the Alps, the world's first important mountain tunnel. The two track railway tunnel unites Italian Savoy (north of the mountains) through Switzerland with the rest of Italy to the south. At 8 miles long and it was more than double the length of any previous tunnel. In 1861, after three years of tedious hand-boring a mere eight inches a day into the rock face, Sommeiller introduced the first industrial-scale pneumatics for tunnel digging. He built a special reservoir, high above the tunnel entrance, to produce a head of water that compressed air (to 6 atm.) for pneumatic drills, able to dig up to 20 times faster. Authorized on 15 Aug 1857, the tunnel opened on 17 Sep 1871, as a major triumph of engineering.*TIS

1901 Peter Cooper Hewitt patents the first mercury-vapor lamp.Hewitt was issued U.S. patent #682692 on September 17, 1901. *Wik

1971 RCA withdraws from computer market, losing $490M *CHM

1985 The Los Angeles Times reported that scientists at Chevron tested their new $10 million Cray X­MP supercomputer and discovered the 30th Mersenne Prime and largest known prime (to that date), 2216− 1
*[Part I, pp. 3, 19; Mathematics Magazine

2008, On September 17, a team of researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas led by Founders Professor Hal Sudborough announced the acceptance by the journal Theoretical Computer Science of a more efficient algorithm for pancake sorting than the one proposed by Gates and Papadimitriou in 1979. This establishes a new upper bound of (18/11)n, improving upon the existing bound of (5/3)n from 1979 by William H Gates, soon to be known as Bill Gates of Microsoft, then a Sophomore student at Harvard. *wik


1743 Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, marquis de Condorcet (17 September 1743 – 28 March 1794), known as Nicolas de Condorcet, was a French philosopher, mathematician, and early political scientist whose Condorcet method in voting tally selects the candidate who would beat each of the other candidates in a run-off election. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he advocated a liberal economy, free and equal public education, constitutionalism, and equal rights for women and people of all races. His ideas and writings were said to embody the ideals of the Age of Enlightenment and rationalism, and remain influential to this day. He died a mysterious death in prison after a period of being a fugitive from French Revolutionary​ authorities.*Wik

1764 John Goodricke (17 Sep 1764; 20 Apr 1786) English astronomer who was the first to notice that some variable stars were periodic. Born a deaf-mute, after a proper education he was able to read lips and to speak. He was the first to calculate the period of Algol to 68 hours and 50 minutes, where the star was changing its brightness by more than a magnitude as seen from Earth. He was also first to correctly propose that the distant sun is periodically occulted by a dark body. John Goodricke was admitted to the Royal Society on 16 April 1786, when 21 years old. He didn't recognized this honor, because he died four days later, in York, from pneumonia.*TIS

1826 (Georg Friedrich) Bernhard Riemann (17 Sep 1826; 20 July 1866) was a German mathematician whose work widely influenced geometry and analysis. In addition, his ideas concerning geometry of space had a profound effect on the development of modern theoretical physics and provided the foundation for the concepts and methods used later in relativity theory. He clarified the notion of integral by defining what we now call the Riemann integral. He was an original thinker and a host of methods, theorems and concepts are named after him. Riemann suffered from tuberculosis and he spent his last years in Italy in an attempt to improve his health. *TIS (A nice cartoon about the Riemann Hypothesis)

1846 Seth Carlo Chandler (17 Sep 1846; 31 Dec 1913) an American astronomer best known for his discovery (1884-85) of the Chandler Wobble, a complex movement in the Earth's axis of rotation (now refered to as polar motion) that causes latitude to vary with a period of 14 months. His interests were much wider than this single subject, however, and he made substantial contributions to such diverse areas of astronomy as cataloging and monitoring variable stars, the independent discovery of the nova T Coronae, improving the estimate of the constant of aberration, and computing the orbital parameters of minor planets and comets. His publications totaled more than 200. *TIS

1857 Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky (17 Sep 1857; 19 Sep 1935) Russian pioneer space theorist who, while a provincial Russian schoolteacher, worked out many of the principles of space travel. In 1883, he noted that vehicle in space would travel in the opposite direction to gas that it emitted, and was the first to seriously propose this method propulsion in space travel. He wrote various papers, including the 1903 article "Exploration of Space with Reactive Devices." The engineering equations he derived included parameters such as specific impulse, thrust coefficient and area ratio. He established that the most efficient chemical combination would be that of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. He was later recognized by the Soviet Union as the "father of cosmonautics." He also built the first wind tunnel.*TIS

1905 Hans Freudenthal (September 17, 1905,– October 13, 1990) was a Dutch mathematician. He made substantial contributions to algebraic topology and also took an interest in literature, philosophy, history and mathematics education.
In 1937 he proved the Freudenthal suspension theorem.
Later in his life, Freudenthal focused on elementary mathematics education. In the 1970s, his single-handed intervention prevented the Netherlands from following the worldwide trend of "`new math"'. He was also a fervent critic of one of the first international school achievement studies.
In 1971 he founded the IOWO at Utrecht University, that after his death was renamed Freudenthal Institute, the current Freudenthal institute for science and mathematics education. He was awarded the Gouden Ganzenveer award in 1984, and died in Utrecht in 1990, sitting on a bench in a park where he always took a morning walk.*Wik

1916 Oswald Garrison "Mike" Villard Jr (17 Sep 1916; 7 Jan 2004) American electronics engineer who developed over-the-horizon radar (a way to detect objects out of direct sight by bouncing radar off the ionosphere, an electrically charged layer in the upper atmosphere) so radar could peer around the Earth's curvature to detect aircraft and missiles thousands of miles away. His interest in electricity began with a copy of Harper's Electricity Book for Boys. At age 12, he put together a radio from a kit. During WW II, he researched countermeasures to protect Allied forces against enemy radio and radar devices. He made pioneering studies of radar jamming. In 1947, he designed a simplified voice transmitter permitting two-way communication on a single radio channel, such as a telephone conversation. *TIS

1934 Warren J. Mitofsky, (17 September 1934 - 1 September 2006)While working at the Census Bureau in the 1960s, he and a colleague, Joseph Waksberg, began to devise a random-digit dialing (RDD) system that now bears both their names.
Mr. Mitofsky went to work at CBS News in 1967. Not long afterwards, he organized the first "exit poll" in a Kentucky gubernatorial election, with his first national exit poll being in 1972. He directed the CBS News Election and Survey Unit until 1990, leading, in 1975, to the joint effort with the NYTimes, the CBS News/New York
Times Poll (which The Times calls the New York Times/CBS News Poll),
which he directed until 1990.
Since 2003, Mitofsky, considered the "Father of Exit Polling" by many, led election-night analysis for the News Election Pool, providing exit-poll results and projections. (Mitofsky disliked the term "exit poll"; he preferred "Election Day survey".)
In exit polls on Election Day in 2004, Mitofsky's early exit polls found Senator John Kerry leading over President Bush, which led some in the news media to prepare for Senator Kerry becoming President Kerry. But such was too premature, as Mitofsky readily acknowledged, later discovering that the pro-Kerry exit-poll lead was caused by Republicans refusing to participate at a greater rate than Democrats in the exit polls. [Guess this shows the importance of not ignoring nonresponse.]
However, despite all this, Mitofsky will probably be best remembered by many for his efficient method of sampling telephone numbers using random-digit dialing (RDD), which is now known as the Mitofsky-Waksberg Method. In 1970, Mitofsky wrote an unpublished CBS News memorandum titled "Sampling of Telephone Households" that helped make his name a household word in public-opinion polling. Eight years later, Joseph Waksberg published an analogous paper, "Sampling Methods for Random Digit Dialing", in the prestigious Journal of the American Statistical Association (JASA), thus resulting in the Mitofsky-Waksberg Method appellation.
The Mitofsky-Waksberg Method of RDD is a cluster-sampling method
for sampling residential telephone numbers that greatly increases
the percentage of calls that do reach residential households. *David Bee


1802 Baron Georg von Vega (b. 1754- September 17, 1754), a military officer and mathematician famous for his military campaigns and his table of logarithms, was murdered for “his money and his watch.” [Eves, Adieu, 257◦] *VFR

1823 Abraham-Louis Bréguet (10 Jan 1747, 17 Sep 1823) Swiss-French horologist and inventor who became the leading French watchmaker of his time because of his artistic as well as technical skill. His innovations included a self-winding or "perpétuelle" watch (1780), the gong spring which decreased the size of repeater watches, and the first anti-shock device or "pare-chute", which improved the reliability of his watches while making them less fragile. In 1775 he founded the Breguet watchmaking firm. After a two year interruption during the French Revolution, he continued business with more inventions. He sold the first modern carriage clock to Bonaparte, and created the tact watch by which time could be read by touch.*TIS

1877 William Fox Talbot (11 Feb 1800, 17 Sep 1877) English mathematician, physicist, chemist who invented the negative-positive photographic process. He improved Thomas Wedgewood's discovery (1802) that brushing silver nitrate solution onto paper produces a light-sensitive medium able to record negative images, but Wedgewood was unable to control the darkening. In February 1835, Fox Talbot found that a strong solution of salt fixed the image. Using a camera obscura to focus an image onto his paper to produce a negative, then - by exposing a second sheet of paper to sunlight transmitted through the negative - he was the first to produce a positive picture of which he was able to make further copies at will. His Pencil of Nature (1844) was the first photographically illustrated book. *TIS

1891 Józeph Miksa Petzval (6 Jan 1807, 17 Sept 1891) worked for much of his life on the Laplace transform. He was influenced by the work of Liouville and wrote both a long paper and a two volume treatise on the Laplace transform and its application to ordinary linear differential equations. His study is thorough but not entirely satisfactory since he was unable to use contour integration to invert the transform.
But for a student of Petzval we might today call the Laplace transform the Petzval transform. Petzval fell out with this student who then accused Petzval of plagiarising Laplace's work. Although this was untrue, Boole and Poincaré, influenced no doubt by the quarrel, called the transformation the Laplace transform.
Petzval is best remembered for his work on optical lenses and lens aberration done in the early 1840's (Petzval curvature is named after him) which allowed the construction of modern cameras. Petzval produced an achromatic portrait lens that was vastly superior to the simple meniscus lens then in use. *SAU

1908 Thomas E. Selfridge , a 1903 classmate of Douglas MacArthur at West Point, whose tombstone at West Point reads “Gave up his life in the service of his country at Fort Myers, Virginia, September 17, 1908, falling with the first government aeroplane.” The pilot, an Ohio bicycle maker named Orville Wright, survived. [Rick Atkinson, The Long Grey Line (1989), pp. 1–2] (His father was a general, but Selfridge Field, now an Air Natl. Guard base near Detroit, is named for the Lt.,the first person to die in a crash of a powered airplane.)

For more information about Lt. Selfridge and his early relation to flying, the Fort Myers, and Alexander G. Bell, see this great article at the Smithsonian site sent to me by the author, Julia Blakely.

1999 Leonard Carlitz (26 Dec 1907, 17 Sept 1999) Carlitz published 771 papers, supervised 44 doctoral and 51 master's theses. His major mathematical contributions are to finite field theory, number theory, and combinatorics. But his publications extend beyond these areas to include algebraic geometry, commutative rings and algebras, finite differences, geometry, linear algebra, and special functions.*SAU

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

Saturday, 16 September 2017

On This Day in Math - September 16

...[T]o many it is not knowledge but the quest for knowledge that gives greater interest to thought—to travel hopefully is better than to arrive

~Sir James Jeans

The 259th day of the year;259 expressed in base six is a repunit, 1111 (63+62+ 61+60= 216+36+6+1=259)

259 can be expressed as the sum of four cubes in two different ways, 259 = 13 + 23 + 53 + 53= 23 + 23 + 33 + 63

and for my ex-students from Japan, 259  is The number of Pokémon originally available in Pokémon Gold and Silver

1566 Tycho Brahe departs Wittenberg to avoid the plague. Early In 1566 he left Denmark and arrived at Wittenberg on the 15th of April. The University of Wittenberg had been founded in 1502, and had then for nearly fifty years been one of the most renowned in Europe. He Studied under Caspar Peucer, distinguished as a mathematician, a physician, and a historian. Tycho, however, did not profit very much from Peucer's instruction, as the plague broke out at Wittenberg, so that he was induced to leave it on the 16th September, after a stay of only five months. *TYCHO BRAHE, A PICTURE OF SCIENTIFIC LIFE AND WORK IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY BY J. L. E. DREYER
(When I checked, the kindle book was under a dollar)

In 1662, the first recorded astronomical observation by the (to become) first Astronomer Royal was John Flamsteed's observation of a solar eclipse from his home in Derby at the age of sixteen, about which he corresponded with other astronomers. Flamsteed's interest in astronomy was stirred by the solar eclipse, and besides reading all he could find on the subject he attempted to make his own measuring instruments. *TIS

1693 In a letter to John Locke, Newton apologized for ill thoughts that he had harbored against Locke. *VFR Locke was strongly denounced by several writers and even called an atheist, notably by John Edwards, but such charges were commonplace against every departure from Orthodoxy. During his period of insanity (following 1693) Isaac Newton made similar charges against Locke; at least he wrote Locke a strange letter apologizing for considering him a Hobbist and having charged him with attacking the root of morality,*Contra Mundum, No. 1 Fall 1991, "At the Origins of English Rationalism", by T.E. Wilder (Locke and Newton were usually friends)

1787 Jefferson writes his ex law professor, George Wythe in regard to the construction of geometric models in the classroom.  Wythe is considered one of the finest jurists of the period, and had Jefferson, Monroe, and John Marshall as students.
"I have reflected on your idea of wooden or ivory diagrams for the geometrical demonstrations. I should think wood as good as ivory; & that in this case it might add to the improvement of the young gentlemen; that they should make the figures themselves. Being furnished by a workman with a piece of veneer, no other tool than a penknife & a wooden rule would be necessary. Perhaps pasteboards, or common cards might be still more convenient. The difficulty is, how to reconcile figures which must have a very sensible breadth, to our ideas of a mathematical line, which, having neither breadth nor thickness, will revolt more at these than at simple lines drawn on paper or slate. If after reflecting on this proposition you would prefer having them made here, lay your commands on me and they shall be executed."
This is a full 100 years before Kline brought his models to America and influenced their use in American education.

1804 J L Gay-Lussac sets height record of 22,000+ feet during balloon lift to make measurements of magnetism and electricity.

In 1835, British naturalist Charles Darwin, aboard the ship HMS Beagle, arrived at the Galapagos archipelago, a cluster of islands on the equator 600 miles west of South America. During his five weeks studying the fauna in the Galapagos, Darwin found the giant tortoises there greatly differed from one another according to which island they came from. Moreover, many islands developed their own races of iguanas. These observations contributed to his theory of “natural selection,” that species evolved over thousands of millions of years. *TIS

1848 Weierstrass came to the Catholic Gymnasium in Braunsberg, his third such position. That year he taught mathematics 19 hours per week, took over the geography class after Easter, and received a special note of thanks for helping out in gym! [From the annual report of the Gymnasium in the University of Louisville’s Bullitt Collection of Mathematics. *VFR

1895 Pierson writes to Yule, "I had a most kindly and encouraging letter from Francis Galton about my Heredity paper. He really is a fine old fellow to take my modification of his views so well." *The History of Statistics: The Measurement of Uncertainty Before 1900
By Stephen M. Stigler

1986 “Four out of three jocks can’t count,” read a headline in The Harvard Lampoon’s parody of USA Today. *VFR


1494 Francisco Maurolico(September 16, 1494-July 21 or July 22, 1575) was an Italian Benedictine who wrote important books on Greek mathematics. He also worked on geometry, the theory of numbers, optics, conics and mechanics.*SAU (His Arithmeticorum libri duo (1575) includes the first known proof by mathematical induction. (First in western mathematics; The 10th Century Persian mathematician Muhammad Al-Karaji was one of the first to use the method of proof by mathematical induction to prove his results, by proving that the first statement in an infinite sequence of statements is true, and then proving that, if any one statement in the sequence is true, then so is the next one. Among other things, Al-Karaji used mathematical induction to prove the binomial theorem.) He proved that the sum of the first n odd numbers is equal to n2 .) Maurolico's astronomical observations include a sighting of the supernova that appeared in Cassiopeia in 1572. Tycho Brahe published details of his observations in 1574; the supernova is now known as Tycho's Supernova.*Wik

1736 Johannes Nikolaus Tetens (16 Sep 1736; 17 Aug 1807) German natural philosopher whose empirical approach strongly influenced the work of Immanuel Kant, and later in his life, Tetens became interested in mathematics, especially in actuarial applications. From 1760, as a teacher of natural philosophy he wrote on diverse topics but later began the development of the field of developmental psychology in Germany. He wrote Philosophische Versuche über die menschliche Natur und ihre Entwickelung (1777) on the origin and structure of knowledge. He changed career after 1789 to the civil service during which time he pursued mathematics. As a statistician he produced an Introduction to the Calculation of Life Annuities (1785) and On the Tetens Mortality Curve (1785)*TIS

1804 Squire Whipple (16 Sep 1804; 15 Mar 1888) U.S. civil engineer, inventor, and theoretician who provided the first scientifically based rules for bridge construction, was considered one of the top engineers of the 19th Century, and was known as the "father of iron bridges." He began his career as a bridge-builder in 1840 by designing and patenting an iron-bridge truss. During the next ten years he built several bridges on the Erie canal and the New York and Erie railroad. His design of the Whipple truss bridge was the model for hundreds of bridges that crossed the Erie Canal in the late 19-th century. Before developing his design, Whipple worked for several years on surveys, estimates, and reports for the enlargement of the Erie Canal, and in 1840 he patented a scale for weighing canal boats. He later built the first weighing lock scale constructed on the Erie Canal. The invention of the steam engine required bridges which could support heavy live loads and this motivated Squire to turn his attention to bridges. In 1853, he completed a 146-ft span iron railroad bridge near West Troy (now Watervliet), N.Y. His book on the design of bridges using scientific methods (1847) was the first of its kind. The formulas and his methods are still useful. He obtained a patent for his lift draw-bridge in 1872.*TIS

Ennackal Chandy George Sudarshan (also known as E. C. G. Sudarshan) (16 September 1931 - ) is a prominent Indian-American physicist, author and professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Sudarshan has made significant contributions to several areas of physics. He was the originator (with Robert Marshak) of the V-A theory of the weak force (also done later by Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann), which eventually paved the way for the electroweak theory. Feynman said in 1963: "The V-A theory that was discovered by Sudarshan and Marshak, publicized by Feynman and Gell-Mann".
He also developed a quantum representation of coherent light (for which Glauber was awarded the 2005 Nobel). *Wik


1736 Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit (24 May 1686, 16 Sep 1736) was a German-Dutch physicist and instrument maker (meteorological). He lived in Holland for most of his life. He invented the alcohol thermometer (1709) and mercury thermometer (1714) and developed the Fahrenheit temperature scale. For the zero of his scale he used the temperature of an equal ice-salt mixture; 30° for the freezing point of water; and 90° for normal body temperature. Later, he adjusted to 32° for the freezing point of water and 212° for the boiling point of water, the interval between the two being divided into 180 parts. He also invented a hygrometer to measure relative humidity and experimented with other liquids discovering that each liquid had a different boiling point that would change with atmospheric pressure.*TIS

1925 Alexander Alexandrovich Friedmann (16 Jun 1888, 16 Sep 1925) Russian mathematician who was the first to work out a mathematical analysis of an expanding universe consistent with general relativity, yet without Einstein's cosmological constant. In 1922, he developed solutions to the field equations, one of which clearly described a universe that began from a point singularity, and expanded thereafter. In his article On the Curvature of Space received by the journal Zeitschrift für Physik on 29 Jun 1922, he showed that the radius of curvature of the universe can be either an increasing or a periodic function of time. In Jul 1925, he made a record-breaking 7400-m balloon ascent to make meteorological and medical observations. A few weeks later he fell ill and died of typhus. *TIS

1931 Niels Nielsen (2 Dec 1865 , 16 Sept 1931) was a Danish mathematician who worked on special functions and number theory. *SAU (He also wrote two mathematical histories, one for France, and one for Denmark)

1932 Sir Ronald Ross (born 13 May 1857, 16 Sep 1932) English physician, bacteriologist and mathematician whose discovery of the malarial parasite in the gastrointestinal tract of the Anopheles mosquito led to the realization that malaria was transmitted by Anopheles. For this work, he was awarded the 1902 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, becoming the first British Nobelist. He began studying malaria in 1892. In 1894 he made an experimental investigation in India of the hypothesis of Alphonse Laveran and Patrick Manson that mosquitoes are connected with the propagation of the disease. After two and a half years' failure, Ross succeeded in demonstrating the life-cycle of the parasites of malaria in mosquitoes, thus establishing the hypothesis of Laveran and Manson. Later, in West Africa he found the species of mosquitoes which convey the deadly African fever.*TIS (He is most remembered for his work on malaria, but his greatest influence may have come from his development and publishing of a mathematical theory of epidemiology.)

1946 Sir James Hopwood Jeans (11 Sep 1877, 16 Sep 1946)was an English physicist, astronomer, and mathematician who was the first to propose that matter is continuously created throughout the universe. He made other innovations in astronomical theory but is perhaps best known as a writer of popular books about astronomy. *TIS

1979 Marion Gray (26 March 1902, 16 Sept 1979) graduated from Edinburgh University and then went to Bryn Mawr College in the USA. She completed her doctorate there and returned to posts at Edinburgh and Imperial College London. She returned to the USA and worked for AT&T for the rest of her career. The Gray graph is named after her.*SAU The Gray graph is an undirected bipartite graph with 54 vertices and 81 edges. It is a cubic graph: every vertex touches exactly three edges. The Gray graph is interesting as the first known example of a cubic graph having the algebraic property of being edge but not vertex transitive *Wik

1989 Allen Shields (May 7, 1927 - September 16, 1989) worked on a wide range of mathematical topics including measure theory, complex functions, functional analysis and operator theory.
An interesting story from George Piranian, of how Shields was appointed to the University of Michigan.
In 1955, on the first day of the American Mathematical Society Summer Meeting in Ann Arbor, George [Piranian] asked Chairman T H Hildebrandt for leave of absence for the Winter Term of 1956. Immediately Hildebrandt declared that he could not grant the request unless George found a replacement. On his way from Hildebrandt's office to one of the lecture sessions, George ran into Allen Shields, whom a year earlier he had met at the Summer Meeting at Laramie. Allen was cooperative, and George dashed back to report that he had found a substitute and that, after fifteen more minutes the substitute would present a ten-minute paper. ... Young as he was, Allen had already mastered the art of beginning his blackboard work in the upper left-hand corner and ending neatly at the lower right, with one minute to spare. Hildebrandt was so impressed that on the spot he offered Allen a one-term appointment. Later, the department persuaded both Shields and Hildebrandt to extend the arrangement.
Soon after George Piranian returned from his leave, he began working with Shields and they published the joint paper The sets of Luzin points of analytic functions (1957). 

2005 Gordon Gould (17 Jul 1920, 16 Sep 2005) American physicist who coined the word "laser" from the initial letters of "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation." Gould was inspired from his youth to be an inventor, wishing to emulate Marconi, Bell, and Edison. He contributed to the WWII Manhattan Project, working on the separation of uranium isotopes. On 9 Nov 1957, during a sleepless Saturday night, he had the inventor's inspiration and began to write down the principles of what he called a laser in his notebook. Although Charles Townes and Arthur Schawlow, also successfully developed the laser, eventually Gould gained his long-denied patent rights. *TIS

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, 15 September 2017

On This Day in Math - September 15

Once a sage asked why scholars always flock to the doors of the rich, whilst the rich are not inclined to call at the doors of scholars. "The scholars" he answered , "are well aware of the use of money, but the rich are ignorant of the nobility of science".

The 258th day of the year; 258 is a sphenic(wedge) number (the product of three distinct prime factors..258 = 2·3·43) it is also the sum of four consecutive primes 258 = 59 + 61 + 67 + 71

(Jim Wilder@Wilderlab pointed out that 2,5,&8 are the numbers in the center column of a phone or calculator.)  Jim's comment reminded me of a math type phone joke I saw at  Wolfram Mathworld:
 "I'm sorry, the number you have dialed is an imaginary number. Please rotate by 90o and try again."
Taking this joke one step further gives the "identity" \( 8*i = \infty \)  And that reminds me of this cartoon at Mind Research Institute.

The Number Zoo gives a Magic square using 16 consecutive primes, with a constant of 258


1739 Euler, in a letter to Johann Bernoulli, begins the general treatment of the homogeneous linear differential equation with constant coefficients. *VFR  Within a year Euler had completed this treatment by successfully dealing with repeated quadratic factors and turned his attention to the non-homogeneous linear equation. *John E. Sasser, HISTORY OF ORDINARY DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS -THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS

1749  Euler's interest in lotteries began at the latest in 1749 when he was commissioned by Frederick the Great to render an opinion on a proposed lottery that would be similar to the Lottery in Genoa. The first of two letters began 15 September 1749. A second series began on 17 August 1763. E812. Read before the Academy of Berlin 10 March 1763 but only published posthumously in 1862. "Reflexions sur une espese singulier de loterie nommée loterie genoise." Opera postuma I, 1862, p. 319–335. The paper determined the probability that a particular number be drawn. *Euler’s Correspondence Translated by Richard J. Pulskamp, Department of Mathematics & Computer Science, Xavier University,
Cincinnati, OH

1782 Lagrange, in a letter to Laplace, told of finishing his M´ecanique analytique. Legendre undertook the editing of the work for the press. *VFR

1784 Balloon Corner in London earns its name. 'Vincent' Lunardi, "The Daredevil Aeronaut", demonstragted a hydrogen balloon flight at the Artillery Ground of the Honourable Artillery Company in London before over a reported crowd of 200,000 people. With a cat, a dog, and a caged pigeon, he rose into the air with only a partially filled bag and then set down at Welham Green, to release the cat, which seems to have become airsick. He then continued to Standon Green End. A stone marks the event in Welham Green :
The 24 mile flight brought Lunardi fame and began the ballooning fad that inspired fashions of the day—Lunardi skirts were decorated with balloon styles, and in Scotland, the Lunardi Bonnet was named after him (balloon-shaped and standing some 600 mm tall), and is even mentioned by Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns (1759–96), in his poem 'To a Louse', written about a young woman called Jenny, who had a louse scampering in her Lunardi bonnet, *Wik

1788 Thomas Paine writes to Thomas Jefferson to discuss shapes for Iron Bridges:

Whether I shall set off a catenarian Arch or an Arch of a Circle I have not yet determined, but I mean to set off both and take my choice. There is one objection against a Catenarian Arch, which is, that the Iron tubes being all cast in one form will not exactly fit every part of it. An Arch of a Circle may be sett off to any extent by calculating the Ordinates, at equal distances on the diameter. In this case, the Radius will always be the Hypothenuse, the portion of the diameter be the Base, and the Ordinate the perpendicular or the Ordinate may be found by Trigonometry in which the Base, the Hypothenuse and right angle will be always given.,

Jefferson's reply of Dec 23, 1788 is cited by OED as the first use of "catenary".  *Jeff Miller

1846 George Boole, age 30, applied for a professorship at “any of her Majesty’s colleges, now in the course of being established in Ireland.” Although he had “never studied at a college” he had been a teacher for 15 years and was “familiar with the elementary and the practical as well as the higher Mathematics.” Although he was self taught, the testimonies of DeMorgan, Cayley, and William Thomson showed that he was an accomplished mathematician. In August 1849, he was appointed the first professor of mathematics at Queen’s College Cork. The reason for the long delay is unclear. *MacHale, George Boole, His Life and Work, pp. 75-84

1855 Sylvester commenced his duties as professor of mathematics and lecturer in natural philosophy at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and one of the richest research periods of his life began. [Osiris, 1(1936), 101] *VFR

1947 The world's oldest computing society, the Association for Computing Machinery, is founded. With more than 80,000 members today, ACM organizes conference and educational workshops to exchange information on technology.*CHM

2017 The Cassini spaceprobe, launched in 1997, was named after Giovanni Cassini and became the first probe to orbit Saturn. For over a decade the probe sent back vital information about Saturn and its moons, expanding our knowledge of the planet, its moons and rings. Fittingly, it crashed into the planet on the day following the anniversary of the death of the astronomer for whom it was named. Earth received @CassiniSaturn’s final signal at 7:55am ET. Cassini is now part of the planet it studied *NASA


973 Al-Biruni (15 Sept 973, 13 Dec 1048) is one of the major figures of Islamic mathematics. He contributed to astronomy, mathematics, physics, medicine and history. *SAU

1736 Jean-Sylvain Bailly (15 Sep 1736; 12 Nov 1793) French astronomer who computed an orbit for Halley's Comet (1759) and studied the four satellites of Jupiter then known. He was the first Mayor of Paris (1789-91). He was executed by guillotine in Paris during the French Revolution.*TIS
Bailly published his Essay on the theory of the satellites of Jupiter in 1766,a an expansion of a presentation he had made to the Academy in 1763. It was followed up in 1771 by a noteworthy dissertation, On the inequalities of light of the satellites of Jupiter.b and in 1778, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. *Wik

1852 Edward Bouchet (15 Sept 1852, New Haven, Conn – 28 Oct 1918, New Haven, Conn) was the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. in Physics from an American university and the first African-American to graduate from Yale University in 1874. He completed his dissertation in Yale's Ph.D. program in 1876 becoming the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. (in any subject). His area of study was Physics. Bouchet was also the first African-American to be elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
Bouchet was also among 20 Americans (of any race) to receive a Ph.D. in physics and was the sixth to earn a Ph. D. in physics from Yale.
Edward Bouchet was born in New Haven, Connecticut. At that time there were only three schools in New Haven open to black children. Bouchet was enrolled in the Artisan Street Colored School with only one teacher, who nurtured Bouchet's academic abilities. He attended the New Haven High School from 1866–1868 and then Hopkins School from 1868-1870 where he was named valedictorian (after graduating first in his class).
Bouchet was unable to find a university teaching position after college, most likely due racial discrimination. Bouchet moved to Philadelphia in 1876 and took a position at the Institute for Colored Youth (ICY). He taught physics and chemistry at the ICY for 26 years. The ICY was later renamed Cheyney University. He resigned in 1902 at the height of the W. E. B. Du Bois-Booker T. Washington controversy over the need for an industrial vs. collegiate education for blacks.
Bouchet spent the next 14 years holding a variety of jobs around the country. Between 1905 and 1908, Bouchet was director of academics at St. Paul's Normal and Industrial School in Lawrenceville, Virginia (presently, St. Paul's College). He was then principal and teacher at Lincoln High School in Gallipolis, Ohio from 1908 to 1913. He joined the faculty of Bishop College in Marshall, Texas in 1913. Illness finally forced him to retire in 1916 and he moved back to New Haven. He died there, in his childhood home, in 1918, at age of 66. He had never married and had no children.*Wik

1883 Esteban Terrades i Illa (15 September 1883;Barcelona,-  9 May 1950,Madrid,) was a Spanish mathematician, scientist and engineer. He researched and taught widely in the fields of mathematics and the physical sciences, working not only in his native Catalonia, but also in the rest of Spain and in South America. He was also active as a consultant in the Spanish aeronautics, electric power, telephone and railway industries. *Wik

1886 Paul Pierre Lévy (15 Sep 1886; 15 Dec 1971) was a French mining engineer and mathematician. He contributed to probability, functional analysis, partial differential equations and series. He also studied geometry. In 1926 he extended Laplace transforms to broader function classes. He undertook a large-scale work on generalised differential equations in functional derivatives.*TIS

1894 Oskar Benjamin Klein (September 15, 1894 (or 1893?) – February 5, 1977) was a Swedish theoretical physicist. Klein retired as professor emeritus in 1962. He was awarded the Max Planck medal in 1959. He is credited for inventing the idea, part of Kaluza–Klein theory, that extra dimensions may be physically real but curled up and very small, an idea essential to string theory / M-theory. *Wik

1901 Luigi Fantappiè (15 September 1901 – 28 July 1956) was an Italian mathematician, known for work in mathematical analysis and for creating the theory of analytic functionals: he was a student and follower of Vito Volterra. Later in life he proposed scientific theories of sweeping scope.*Wik

1923 Georg Kreisel FRS (born September 15, 1923 in Graz) is an Austrian-born mathematical logician who has studied and worked in Great Britain and America. Kreisel came from a Jewish background; his family sent him to England before the Anschluss, where he studied mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge and then, during World War II, worked on military subjects. After the war he returned to Cambridge and received his doctorate. He taught at the University of Reading until 1954 and then worked at the Institute for Advanced Study from 1955 to 1957. Subsequently he taught at Stanford University and the University of Paris. Kreisel was appointed a professor at Stanford University in 1962 and remained on the faculty there until he retired in 1985.
Kreisel worked in various areas of logic, and especially in proof theory, where he is known for his so-called "unwinding" program, whose aim was to extract constructive content from superficially non-constructive proofs.*Wik

1926 Jean-Pierre Serre (15 September 1926 - ) born in Bages, France. In 1954 he received a Fields Medal for his work on the homotopy groups of spheres. He also reformulated some of the main results of complex variable theory in terms of sheaves. See International Mathematical Congresses. An Illustrated History, 1893–1986, edited by Donald J. Albers, G. L. Alexanderson and Constance Reid.

1929 Murray Gell-Mann (15 Sep 1929 -  ).  American theoretical physicist who predicted the existence of quarks. He was awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize for Physics for his contributions to particle physics. His first major contribution to high-energy physics was made in 1953, when he demonstrated how some puzzling features of hadrons (particles responsive to the strong force) could be explained by a new quantum number, which he called “strangeness”. In 1964, he (and Yuval Ne'eman) proposed the eightfold way to define the structure of particles. This led to Gell-Mann's postulate of the quark, a name he coined (from a word in James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake).*TIS

1883 physicist J. Plateau (14 October 1801 – 15 September 1883)  Plateau’s problem asks for the minimal surface through a given curve in three dimensions. A minimal surface is the surface through the curve with the least area. Mathematically the problem is still unsolved, but physical solutions are easy: dip a curved wire in a soap solution. The “soap bubble” that results is the minimal surface for that curve. *VFR
In 1829 Joseph Plateau submitted his doctoral thesis to his mentor Adolphe Quetelet for advice. It contained only 27 pages, but formulated a great number of fundamental conclusions. It contained the first results of his research into the effect of colors on the retina (duration, intensity and color), his mathematical research into the intersections of revolving curves (locus), the observation of the distortion of moving images, and the reconstruction of distorted images through counter revolving
discs Prior to going blind was the first person to demonstrate the illusion of a moving image. To do this he used counter rotating disks with repeating drawn images in small increments of motion on one and regularly spaced slits in the other. He called this device of 1832 the phenakistoscope.
Plateau has often been termed a "martyr for science". . In many (popular) publications the blindness of Plateau is ascribed to his experiment of 1829 in which he looked directly into the sun for 25 seconds. Recent research definitely refutes this. The exact date of the blindness is difficult to formulate simply. It was a gradual process during the year 1843 and early 1844. Plateau publishes two papers in which he painstakingly describes the scientific observations of his own blindness. After 40 years of blindness he still has subjective visual sensations. For his experiments, as well as for the related deskwork colleagues and family help him. *Wik

1898 William Seward Burroughs (born 28 Jan 1855, 5 Sep 1898) American inventor who invented the world's first commercially viable recording adding machine and pioneer of its manufacture. He was inspired by his experience in his beginning career as a bank clerk. On 10 Jan 1885 he submitted his first patent (issued 399,116 on 21 Aug 1888) for his mechanical “calculating machine.” Burroughs co-founded  the American Arithmometer Co in 1886 to develop and market the machine. The manufacture of the first machines was contracted out, and their durability was unsatisfactory. He continued to refine his design for accuracy and reliability, receiving more patents in 1892, and began selling the much-improved model for $475 each. By 1895, 284 machines had been sold, mostly to banks, and 1500 by 1900. The company later became Burroughs Corporation (1905) and eventually Unisys. *TIS

1962  William W(eber) Coblentz   (20 Nov 1873, 15 Sep 1962) was an American physicist and astronomer whose work lay primarily in infrared spectroscopy. In 1905 he founded the radiometry section of the National Bureau of Standards, which he headed for 40 years. Coblentz measured the infrared radiation from stars, planets, and nebulae and was the first to determine accurately the constants of blackbody radiation, thus confirming Planck's law.*TIS

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