Friday, 18 April 2014

On This Day in Math - April 18



It is nothing short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.
~Albert Einstein

The 108th day of the year; 108 can be written as the sum of a cube and a square (a^3 + b^2) in two ways. This is the smallest number with this property. *Prime Curios
AND 108 = 1¹ • 2² • 3³ *jim wilder ‏@wilderlab



EVENTS
1557 Maurolico completed the first volume of his Arithmetic at three o’clock in the morning on Easter Sunday. [Jean Cassinet, Mathematics from Manuscript to Print, 1300–1600, p. 162; Thanks to Dave Kullman]*VFR Throughout his lifetime, he made contributions to the fields of geometry, optics, conics, mechanics, music, and astronomy. He edited the works of classical authors including Archimedes, Apollonius, Autolycus, Theodosius and Serenus. He also composed his own unique treatises on mathematics and mathematical science. *Wik

1775 Paul Revere’s Ride. The revolutionary War began the next day. Now you probably think this has nothing to do with mathematics, but how do you suppose he got that lantern up in the church steeple? Easy, he used a key to get in. Since he was a change ringer, a highly mathematical activity, he needed a key to get up to the bells. *VFR

1796 Professor E. A. W. Zimmerman sends a short notice of Gauss’s work on constructibility of regular polygons (see March 30, 1796) to the Jenenser Intelligenzblatt. He adds, “It is worthy of notice that Herr Gauss is now in his 18th year and has devoted himself here in Brunswick to philosophy and classical literature with just as great success as to higher mathematics.” [Tietze, 204] *VFR (found this on Twitter from Matt Henderson....and loved it..
"Erdős believed God had a book of all perfect mathematical proofs.
God believes Gauss has such a book.")

1810 Gauss elected a member of the Berlin Academy of Sciences. *VFR

1831 Founding of the University of the City of New York. [Muller] *VFR

1905 The first mention of the word genetics seems to occur in a letter from William Bateson to Adam Sedgwick. A photo of the letter is here

1942 GE builds first US Jet Aircraft Engine: In1941, the U.S. Army Air Corps picked GE's Lynn, Massachusetts, plant to build a jet engine based on the design of Britain's Sir Frank Whittle. Six months later, on April 18, 1942, GE engineers successfully ran the I-A engine.
In October 1942, at Muroc Dry Lake, California, (today, Edwards Air Force Base) two I-A engines powered the historic first flight of a Bell XP-59A Airacomet aircraft, launching the United States into the Jet Age. *About GE website


1958 India issued a stamp commemorating the centenary of the birth of Dr. Dhondo Keshav Karve (1858–1922), pioneer of women’s education. [Scott #299]*VFR

1986 IBM First to Use Megabit Chip:
Newspapers report that IBM had become the first computer manufacturer to use a megabit chip -- a memory chip capable of storing 1 million bits of information -- in a commercial product, its Model 3090. The announcement is heralded as a notable triumph for American computer makers, whose work had been perceived as having fallen behind that of the Japanese electronics industry.*CHM

2011 Scientists demonstrate mathematically that asymmetrical materials should be possible; such material would allow most light or sound waves through in one direction, while preventing them from doing so in the opposite direction; such materials would allow the construction of true one-way mirrors, soundproof rooms, or even quantum computers that use light to perform calculations. *Wik


BIRTHS
1772 David Ricardo (18 April 1772 – 11 September 1823) was an English political economist, often credited with systematizing economics, and was one of the most influential of the classical economists, along with Thomas Malthus, Adam Smith, and John Stuart Mill. He was also a member of Parliament, businessman, financier and speculator, who amassed a considerable personal fortune. Perhaps his most important contribution was the law of comparative advantage, a fundamental argument in favor of free trade among countries and of specialization among individuals. Ricardo argued that there is mutual benefit from trade (or exchange) even if one party (e.g. resource-rich country, highly skilled artisan) is more productive in every possible area than its trading counterpart (e.g. resource-poor country, unskilled laborer), as long as each concentrates on the activities where it has a relative productivity advantage. *Wik

1863 H(ugh) L(ongbourne) Callendar (18 Apr 1863, 21 Jan 1930) was an English physicist famous for work in calorimetry, thermometry and especially, the thermodynamic properties of steam. He published the first steam tables (1915). In 1886, he invented the platinum resistance thermometer using the electrical resistivity of platinum, enabling the precise measurement of temperatures. He also invented the electrical continuous-flow calorimeter, the compensated air thermometer (1891), a radio balance (1910) and a rolling-chart thermometer (1897) that enabled long-duration collection of climatic temperature data. His son, Guy S. Callendar linked climatic change with increases in carbon dioxide (CO2) resulting from mankind's burning of carbon fuels (1938), known as the Callendar effect, part of the greenhouse effect.*TIS


1892 Dmitrii Evgenevich Menshov (18 April 1892 in Moscow, Russia - 25 Nov 1988)
For his work on the representation of functions by trigonometric series, Menshov was awarded a State Prize in 1951. He was then elected a Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1953. In 1958 Menshov attended the International Congress of Mathematicians in Edinburgh and he was invited to address the Congress with his paper On the convergence of trigonometric series. *SAU

1907 Lars Valerian Ahlfors (18 Apr 1907; 11 Oct 1996 at age 89) Finnish mathematician who was awarded one of the first two Fields Medals in 1936 for his work with Riemann surfaces. He also won the Wolf Prize in 1981.*TIS

1904 Stefan E Warschawski (18 April 1904 in Lida, Russia (now Belarus)- 5 May 1989 in San Diego, California, USA) With careful scholarship, he made lasting contributions to the theory of complex analysis, particularly to the theory of conformal mappings. With keen judgment, he guided two mathematics departments to eminence. With modest gratitude, he cemented many friendships along the way.*SAU

1911 Maurice Goldhaber (18 Apr 1911; 11 May 2011 at age 100) Austrian-American physicist who devised an experiment to show that neutrinos always rotate in one direction (only counterclockwise). His method was simple, elegant, and used an apparatus small enough to fit on a benchtop, rather than employing a huge accelerator. He also discovered that the nucleus of the deuterium atom consists of a proton and a neutron. In the decade (1961-73) that he headed the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, he oversaw the experiments there which led to three Nobel Prizes. He died at age 100.*TIS

1916 Ellis Robert Kolchin (April 18, 1916 – October 30, 1991) was an American mathematician at Columbia University. Kolchin earned a doctorate in mathematics from Columbia University in 1941 under supervision of Joseph Ritt. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1954 and 1961.
Kolchin worked on differential algebra and its relation to differential equations, and founded the modern theory of linear algebraic groups.*Wik

1918 Hsien Chung Wang (18 April 1918 in Peking (now Beijing), China - 25 June 1978 in New York, USA)worked on algebraic topology and discovered the 'Wang sequence', an exact sequence involving homology groups associated with fibre bundles over spheres. These discoveries were made while he worked with Newman in Manchester. Wang also solved, at that time, an important open problem in determining the closed subgroups of maximal rank in a compact Lie group. *SAU

1928 Mikio Sato (April 18, 1928 - ) is a Japanese mathematician, who started the field of algebraic analysis. He studied at the University of Tokyo, and then did graduate study in physics as a student of Shin'ichiro Tomonaga. From 1970 Sato has been professor at the Research Institute for Mathematical Sciences, of Kyoto University.
He is known for his innovative work in a number of fields, such as prehomogeneous vector spaces and Bernstein–Sato polynomials; and particularly for his hyperfunction theory. This initially appeared as an extension of the ideas of distribution theory; it was soon connected to the local cohomology theory of Grothendieck, for which it was an independent origin, and to expression in terms of sheaf theory. It led further to the theory of microfunctions, interest in microlocal aspects of linear partial differential equations and Fourier theory such as wave fronts, and ultimately to the current developments in D-module theory. Part of that is the modern theory of holonomic systems: PDEs over-determined to the point of having finite-dimensional spaces of solutions.
He also contributed basic work to non-linear soliton theory, with the use of Grassmannians of infinite dimension. In number theory he is known for the Sato–Tate conjecture on L-functions.*Wik

1949 Charles Louis Fefferman born in Washington, D.C. In 1978 he received a Fields Medal for his work on complex analysis.*VFR As a child prodigy, his accelerated schooling resulted a B.S. degrees in physics and mathematics by age 17 and a Ph.D. in mathematics at age 20 from Princeton University (1969). When in he became a professor (1971) at the University of Chicago at the age of 22, he was the youngest full professor ever in the U.S. Two years later, he returned to Princeton as a professor (1973). His Ph.D. dissertation was on "Inequalities for Strongly Regular Convolution Operators." His field of study includes his interest in physics - applied mathematics in vibrations, heat, turbulence, though he is best known for his theoretical work. *TIS

DEATHS
1756 Jacques Cassini (18 Feb 1677; 18 Apr, (or Sometimes given 16 Apr) 1756 at age 79) French astronomer whose direct measurement of the proper motions of the stars (1738) disproved the ancient belief in the unchanging sphere of the stars. He also studied the moons of Jupiter and Saturn and the structure of Saturn's rings. His two major treatises on these subject appeared in 1740: Elements of Astronomy and Astronomical Tables of the Sun, Moon, Planets, Fixed Stars, and Satellites of Jupiter and Saturn. He also wrote about electricity, barometers, the recoil of firearms, and mirrors. He was the son of astronomer, mathematician and engineer Giovanni Cassini (1625-1712) with whom he made numerous geodesic observations. Eventually, he took over his father's duties as head of the Paris Observatory.*TIS Cassini was born at the Paris Observatory and died at Thury, near Clermont. Admitted at the age of seventeen to membership of the French Academy of Sciences, he was elected in 1696 a fellow of the Royal Society of London, and became maître des comptes in 1706. *Wik

1674 John Graunt- (24 Apr 1620, 18 Apr 1674 at age 54) English statistician, generally considered to be the founder of the science of demography, the statistical study of human populations. His analysis of the vital statistics of the London populace influenced the pioneer demographic work of his friend Sir William Petty and, even more importantly, that of Edmond Halley, the astronomer royal. *TIS
John Graunt was the first person to compile data that showed an excess of male births over female births. He also noticed spatial and temporal variation in the sex ratio, but the variation in his data is not significant. John Arbuthnott was the first person to demonstrate that the excess of male births is statistically significant. He erroneously concluded that there is less variation in the sex ratio than would occur by chance, and asserted without a basis that the sex ratio would be uniform over all time and space. (pb)

1803 Louis François Antoine Arbogast (October 4, 1759 – April 8, or April 18, 1803) His contributions to mathematics show him as a philosophical thinker somewhat ahead of his time. As well as introducing discontinuous functions, he conceived the calculus as operational symbols. The formal algebraic manipulation of series investigated by Lagrange and Laplace in the 1770s was put in the form of operator equalities by Arbogast in 1800 in Calcul des dérivations.*SAU

1883 Édouard Albert Roche (17 Oct 1820, 18 Apr 1883 at age 62) was a French mathematical astronomer who studied the internal structure of celestial bodies and was the first to propose a model of the Earth with a solid core. He determined (1850) the Roche Limit for a satellite to have a stable orbit around a planet of equal density. The smaller body could not lie within 2.44 radii of the larger body without breaking apart from effect of the gravitational force between them. He later made a rigorous mathematical analysis of Pierre Laplace's nebular hypothesis and showed (1873) the instability of a rapidly rotating lens-shaped body.*TIS

1923 Pieter Hendrik Schoute (January 21, 1846, Wormerveer–April 18, 1923, Groningen) was a Dutch mathematician known for his work on regular polytopes and Euclidean geometry. *Wik Schoute was a typical geometer. In his early work he investigated quadrics, algebraic curves, complexes, and congruences in the spirit of nineteenth-century projective, metrical, and enumerative geometry. Schläfli's work of the 1850's was brought to the Netherlands by Schoute who, in three papers beginning in 1893 and in his elegant two-volume textbook on many-dimensional geometry 'Mehrdimensionale Geometrie' (2 volumes 1902, 1905), studied the sections and projections of regular polytopes and compound polyhedra. ... Alicia Boole Stott (1870-1940), George Boole's third daughter (of five), ... studied sections of four- and higher-dimensional polytopes after her husband showed her Schoute's 1893 paper, and Schoute later (in his last papers) gave an analytic treatment of her constructions. *SAU

1945 Sir John Ambrose Fleming (29 Nov 1849, 18 Apr 1945 at age 95)English engineer who made numerous contributions to electronics, photometry, electric measurements, and wireless telegraphy. In 1904, he discovered the one directional current effect between a positively biassed electrode, which he called the anode, and the heated filament in an evacuated glass tube; the electrons flowed from filament to anode only. Fleming called the device a diode because it contained two electrodes, the anode and the heated filament. He noted that when an alternating current was applied, only the positive halves of the waves were passed - that is, the wave was rectified (from a.c. to d.c.). It would also take a radio frequency wave and produce d.c.corresponding to the on and off of the Morse code transmitted signals. *TIS

1955 Albert Einstein (14 Mar 1879; 18 Apr 1955 at age 76) German-American physicist who developed the special and general theories of relativity and won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 for his explanation of the photoelectric effect. Recognized in his own time as one of the most creative intellects in human history, in the first 15 years of the 20th century Einstein advanced a series of theories that proposed entirely new ways of thinking about space, time, and gravitation. His theories of relativity and gravitation were a profound advance over the old Newtonian physics and revolutionized scientific and philosophic inquiry.*TIS
An NBC News broadcast of his death is here.

1999 Gian-Carlo Rota Rota worked on functional analysis for his doctorate and, up to about 1960, he wrote a series of papers on operator theory. Two papers in 1959-60, although still in the area of operator theory, looked at ergodic theory which is an area which requires considerable combinatorial skills. These papers seem to have led Rota away from operator theory and into the area of combinatorics. His first major work on combinatorics, which was to change the direction of the whole subject, was On the Foundations of Combinatorial Theory which Rota published in 1964.
Rota received the Steele Prize from the American Mathematical Society in 1988. The Prize citation singles out the 1964 paper On the Foundations of Combinatorial Theory as:-... the single paper most responsible for the revolution that incorporated combinatorics into the mainstream of modern mathematics. *SAU

2003 Edgar Frank Codd British-American computer scientist and mathematician who laid the theoretical foundation for relational databases, for storing and retrieving information in computer records. He also contributed knowledge in the area of cellular automata. *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

Thursday, 17 April 2014

On This Day in Math - April 17


Origami Soma Cubes (see Piet Hein, Deaths, 1996)*The New Origami by Steve and Megumi Biddle

A Man of Knowledge like a rich Soil, feeds
If not a world of Corn, a world of Weeds.
~Benjamin Franklin

The 107th day of the year; There is no integer N such that N! has exactly 107 zeros in it. The same is true if we replace 107 by the primes 3, 31, or 43.*Prime Curios (This seems a most remarkable set of facts to me.)
Interestingly, the sum of the first 107 digits of pi is prime, and the sum of the first 107 digits of e is prime. This is trivially true for the first digit of each, but can you find the one (I believe) other number between 1 and 107 for which the sum of the digits of e and pi are both prime?


EVENTS
1397 Geoffrey Chaucer told the Canterbury Tales for the first time at the court of Richard II, *The British Library ‏@britishlibrary
Another significant work of Chaucer's is his Treatise on the Astrolabe, possibly for his own son, that describes the form and use of that instrument in detail and is sometimes cited as the first example of technical writing in the English language. Although much of the text may have come from other sources, the treatise indicates that Chaucer was versed in science in addition to his literary talents. Another scientific work discovered in 1952, Equatorie of the Planetis, has similar language and handwriting compared to some considered to be Chaucer's and it continues many of the ideas from the Astrolabe. Furthermore, it contains an example of early European encryption. The attribution of this work to Chaucer is still uncertain. *Wik

1732 Laura Maria Caterina Bassi defends forty-nine academic theses in public display:
The University of Bologna is the oldest university in Europe and at the beginning of the eighteenth century students were still examined by public disputation, i.e. the candidate was expected to orally defend a series of academic theses. At the beginning of 1732 Bassi took part in a private disputation in her home with members of the university faculty in the presence of many leading members of Bolognese intellectual society. As a result of her performance during this disputation she was elected a member of the prestigious Bologna Academy of Science on 20th March. Rumours of this extraordinary young lady quickly spread and on 17th April she defended forty-nine theses in a highly spectacular public disputation. On 12th May following a public outcry she was awarded a doctorate from the university in a grand ceremony in the city hall of Bologna. Following a further public disputation the City Senate appointed her professor of philosophy at the university, making her the first ever female professor at a European university.
See more at *Thony Christie, The Renaissance Mathematicus


1912 Two days after the sinking of the Titanic a solar eclipse occurred. It was a hybrid event, starting and ending as an annular eclipse, with only a small portion of totality. Totality was visible over the sea between Spain and France, with annularity continued northeast across Europe and Asia.
This eclipse occurred two days after the RMS Titanic sank in the northwestern Atlantic ocean under the darkness of new moon. *Wik The image at right was taken by the Observatory of Paris from the Globule balloon aloft for the 17 April 1912 hybrid eclipse.

1935 Turkey issued a series of semi-postal stamps commemorating the 12th congress of the Women’s International Alliance. One pictured a school teacher. Another was the first stamp honoring Marie SkLlodowska Curie. [Scott #B55, B67]*VFR

*Louis Paul Hennefeld, Out of the Closet

1944 Harvard Mark I Operating:
Harvard University President James Conant writes to IBM founder Thomas Watson Sr. to let him know that the Harvard Mark I, developed in cooperation between the two, was operating smoothly. The project was one of the many examples of wartime collaboration among the federal government, universities, and private corporations. In his letter, Conant noted that the Mark I already was "being used for special problems in connection with the war effort." *CHM

2013 Yitang Zhang announced a proof that there are infinitely many pairs of prime numbers which differ by 70 million or less. This proof is the first to establish the existence of a finite bound for prime gaps, resolving a weak form of the twin prime conjecture. *Wik


BIRTHS
1598 Giovanni Battista Riccioli (17 April 1598 – 25 June 1671) Italian astronomer who was the first to observe (1650) a double star (two stars so close together that they appear to be one) - Mizar in Ursa Major, the middle star in the handle of the Big Dipper. He also discovered satellite shadows on Jupiter. In 1651, he assigned the majority of the lunar feature names in current use. He named the more prominent features after famous astronomers, scientists and philosophers, while the large dark and smooth areas he called "seas" or "maria". The lunar seas were named after moods (Seas of Tranquillity, Serenity) or terrestrial phenomena (Sea of Rains, Ocean or Storms) His map was published in Almagestum Novum in1651.*TIS
Riccioli studied seventy-seven objections to the Copernican thesis and after studying them Riccioli said that the weight of argument favored a “geo-heliocentric” hypothesis such as that advocated by the great Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. Riccioli's preference for Tycho's model illustrates something important about how science is done. While today anti-Copernicans are often portrayed as Einstein characterized them (opposed to rational thinking, opposed to science), Riccioli, perhaps the most prominent of the anti-Copernicans, examined the available evidence diligently and rationally. The conclusion he reached was indeed wrong, but wrong because at that time neither the diffraction of light and the Airy disk, nor the details of the Coriolis effect, were understood. Riccioli's anti-Copernican arguments were so solid that they would become subjects of further investigation in physics, long after the Copernican theory had triumphed over the Tychonic theory.*Christopher M. Graney, Teaching Galileo, Physics Teacher V50,1
An interesting blog about Riccioli is at the Renaissance Mathematicus

1656 William Molyneux (17 April 1656 in Dublin, Ireland - 11 Oct 1698 in Dublin, Ireland) was an Irish scientist and philosopher who worked on optics.After leaving Bologna, Angeli continued his contacts with Cavalieri(who had been his teacher in Bologna) by correspondence, and was entrusted to publish Cavalieri's final work, Exercitationes geometricae sex, since by 1647 Cavalieri's health had deteriorated to such an extent that he was unable to carry out the work himself. Angeli also corresponded with a number of other mathematicians including Torricelli and Viviani. After Cavalieri's death, later in 1647, Angeli was offered his chair of mathematics at the University of Bologna but he was still too modest about his own mathematical achievements to accept the position. He moved to Rome where he devoted himself to both mathematics and religious studies. *SAU

1766 John Leslie (17 April 1766 in Largo, Fife, Scotland - 3 Nov 1832 in Coates (near Largo), Fife, Scotland) Leslie was a successful professor of mathematics, attracting large classes of students and publishing his lectures in popular textbooks such as the three part work Elements of Geometry​, Geometrical Analysis, and Plane Trigonometry (1809). He mixed classical mathematical teaching with some new continental approaches to analysis and algebra particularly in his advanced classes. Leslie became professor in Natural Philosophy in 1819 after the chair fell vacant on Playfair's death. This was not without a battle, for again the Church put up a candidate but, having won a victory in the earlier encounter, this time proved much more straightforward. He gave courses which were filled with experiments on specially made apparatus, for which Leslie himself had paid over half the cost from his own pocket. He soon discovered that one of the main problems of teaching university level physics was the lack of mathematical background of most of his students. He wanted to rectify this by teaching mathematics courses specially tailored for his physics students, but the University of Edinburgh senate prevented him from giving such courses since these topics were deemed the responsibility of the professor of mathematics. *SAU

1798 Étienne Bobillier (April 17, 1798 – March 22, 1840) was a French mathematician. At the age of 19 he was accepted into the École Polytechnique and studied there for a year. However, due to a shortage of money, in 1818 he became an instructor in mathematics at the École des Arts et Métiers in Châlons-sur-Marne. In 1829, he was sent to Angers to be director of studies. The following year he served in the national guard during the 1830 revolution. In 1832 he returned to Châlons after his post was abolished, and was promoted to professor.
In 1836 he began suffering from health problems, but continued teaching; declining to take a leave to recuperate. As a result he died in Châlons at the relatively early age of 41.
He is noted for his work on geometry, particularly the algebraic treatment of geometric surfaces and the polars of curves. He also worked on statics and the catenary. The crater Bobillier on the Moon is named after him.*Wik

1853 Arthur Moritz Schönflies (17 April 1853 in Landsberg an der Warthe, Germany (now Gorzów-Wielkopolski, Poland) - 27 May 1928 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany) worked first on geometry and kinematics but became best known for his work on set theory and crystallography. He classified the 230 space groups in 1891 He studied under Kummer and Weierstrass, and was influenced by Felix Klein.
The Schoenflies problem is to prove that an (n − 1)-sphere in Euclidean n-space bounds a topological ball, however embedded. This question is much more subtle than initially appears. *Wik *SAU

1863 Augustus Edward Hough Love (17 Apr 1863; 5 Jun 1940 at age 77) British geophysicist and mathematician who discovered a major type of earthquake wave that was subsequently named for him. Love assumed that the Earth consists of concentric layers that differ in density and postulated the occurrence of a seismic wave confined to the surface layer (crust) of the Earth which propagated between the crust and underlying mantle. His prediction was confirmed by recordings of the behaviour of waves in the surface layer of the Earth. He proposed a method, based on measurements of Love waves, to measure the thickness of the Earth's crust. In addition to his work on geophysical theory, Love studied elasticity and wrote A Treatise on the Mathematical Theory of Elasticity, 2 vol. (1892-93). *TIS (Hard to imagine the newsperson announcing that "Love waves caused the collapse of multiple buildings in San Francisco on this day in 1906.")

1918 Matteo Bottasso (17 April 1878 in Chiusa di Pesio (Cuneo), Italy - 4 Oct 1918 in Messina, ItalyMessina, Italy)was an Italian mathematician who used the vector calculus in studying problems in geometry, mechanics and physics. *SAU

DEATHS
485 Proclus Diadochus (8 Feb 411 in Constantinople (now Istanbul), Byzantium (now Turkey) - 17 April 485 in Athens, Greece) was a Greek philosopher who became head of Plato's Academy and is important mathematically for his commentaries on the work of other mathematicians. *SAU

1761 Thomas Bayes (1702, 17 Apr 1761) English theologian and mathematician who was the first to use probability inductively and who established a mathematical basis for probability inference (a means of calculating, from the frequency with which an event has occurred in prior trials, the probability that it will occur in future trials). This became the basis of a statistical technique, now called Bayesian estimation, for calculating the probability of the validity of a proposition on the basis of a prior estimate of its probability and new relevant evidence. Later statisticians cite disadvantages of the method that include the different ways of assigning prior distributions of parameters and the possible sensitivity of conclusions to the choice of distributions. *TIS British mathematician and Presbyterian minister, known for having formulated a special case of Bayes' theorem, which was published posthumously. Bayes died in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. He is interred in Bunhill Fields Cemetery in London where many Nonconformists are buried. Bayesian probability is the name given to several related interpretations of probability, which have in common the application of probability to any kind of statement, not just those involving random variables. "Bayesian" has been used in this sense since about 1950.

1787 Wenceslaus Johann Gustav Karsten (15 Dec 1732 in Neubrandenburg, Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Germany - 17 April 1787 in Halle, Germany) He wrote an important article in 1768 Von den Logarithmen vermeinter Grössen in which he discussed logarithms of negative and imaginary numbers, giving a geometric interpretation of logarithms of complex numbers as hyperbolic sectors, based on the similarity of the equations of the circle and of the equilateral hyperbola. *SAU

1790 Benjamin Franklin, (17 Jan 1706; 17 Apr 1790) American printer and publisher, author, inventor and scientist, and diplomat. He become widely known in European scientific circles for his reports of electrical experiments and theories. He invented a type of stove, still being manufactured, to give more warmth than open fireplaces and the lightning rod, bifocal eyeglasses also were his ideas. Grasping the fact that by united effort a community may have amenities which only the wealthy few can get for themselves, he helped establish institutions people now take for granted: a fire company (1736), a library (1731), an insurance company (1752), an academy (1751), and a hospital (1751). In some cases these foundations were the first of their kind in North America. *TIS When he observed a balloon launch by the Montgolfier brothers he was asked of what use it was. He replied: Of what use is a new born baby? *VFR
While traveling on a ship, Franklin had observed that the wake of a ship was diminished when the cooks scuttled their greasy water. He studied the effects at Clapham common on a large pond there. "I fetched out a cruet of oil and dropt a little of it on the water...though not more than a teaspoon full, produced an instant calm over a space of several yards square." He later used the trick to "calm the waters" by carrying "a little oil in the hollow joint of my cane." *W. Gratzer, Eurekas and Euphorias, pgs 80,81

1847 Francois-Joseph Servois (19 July 1768 in Mont-de-Laval (N of Morteau), Doubs, France - 17 April 1847 in Mont-de-Laval, Doubs, France) He worked in projective geometry, functional equations and complex numbers. He introduced the word pole in projective geometry. He also came close to discovering the quaternions before Hamilton.
Servois introduced the terms "commutative" and "distributive" in a paper describing properties of operators, and he also gave some examples of noncommutativity. Although he does not use the concept of a ring explicitly, he does verify that linear commutative operators satisfy the ring axioms. In doing so he showed why operators could be manipulated like algebraic magnitudes. This work initiates the algebraic theory of operators.
Servois was critical of Argand's geometric interpretation of the complex numbers. He wrote to Gergonne telling him so in November 1813 and Gergonne published the letter in the Annales de mathématiques in January 1814. Servois wrote:- I confess that I do not yet see in this notation anything but a geometric mask applied to analytic forms the direct use of which seems to me simple and more expeditious.
Considered as a leading expert by many mathematicians of his day, he was consulted on many occasions by Poncelet while he was writing his book on projective geometry Traité des propriétés projective. *SAU

1942 Jean-Baptiste Perrin (30 Sep 1870, 17 Apr 1942 at age 71) was a French physicist who, in his studies of the Brownian motion of minute particles suspended in liquids, verified Albert Einstein's explanation of this phenomenon and thereby confirmed the atomic nature of matter. Using a gamboge emulsion, Perrin was able to determine by a new method, one of the most important physical constants, Avogadro's number (the number of molecules of a substance in so many grams as indicated by the molecular weight, for example, the number of molecules in two grams of hydrogen). The value obtained corresponded, within the limits of error, to that given by the kinetic theory of gases. For this achievement he was honoured with the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1926. *TIS

1977 Richard Dagobert Brauer (10 Feb 1901; 17 Apr 1977 at age 76) German-American mathematician and educator, a pioneer in the development of algebra theory. He worked with Weyl on several projects including a famous joint paper on spinors (published in 1935 in the American Journal of Mathematics). This work provided a background for Paul Dirac's theory of the spinning electron within the framework of quantum mechanics. With Nesbitt, Brauer introduced the theory of blocks (1937). Brauer used this to obtain results on finite groups, particularly finite simple groups, and the theory of blocks would play a big part in much of Brauer's later work. Starting with his group-theoretical characterisation of the simple groups (1951), he spent the rest of his life formulating a method to classify all finite simple groups. *TIS

1996 Piet Hein (December 16, 1905 – April 17, 1996) was a Danish scientist, mathematician, inventor, designer, author, and poet, often writing under the Old Norse pseudonym "Kumbel" meaning "tombstone". His short poems, known as gruks or grooks (Danish: Gruk), first started to appear in the daily newspaper "Politiken" shortly after the Nazi occupation in April 1940 under the pseudonym "Kumbel Kumbell"
The Soma cube is a solid dissection puzzle invented by Piet Hein in 1933 during a lecture on quantum mechanics conducted by Werner Heisenberg. Seven pieces made out of unit cubes must be assembled into a 3x3x3 cube. The pieces can also be used to make a variety of other 3D shapes. Piet Hein created the superellipse which became the hallmark of modern Scandinavian architecture.
In addition to the thousands of grooks he wrote, Piet Hein devised the games of Hex, Tangloids, Morra, Tower, Polytaire, TacTix, Nimbi, Qrazy Qube, Pyramystery, and the Soma cube. He advocated the use of the superellipse curve in city planning, furniture making and other realms. He also invented a perpetual calendar called the Astro Calendar and marketed housewares based on the superellipse and Superegg. *Wik My Favorite of his grooks is this one:
Problems worthy
of attack
prove their worth
by hitting back.

2006 Gloria Olive (8 June 1923 in New York City, USA - 17 April 2006 in Dunedin, New Zealand) Much of Olive's research was on applications of generalised powers. She published papers such as Binomial functions and combinatorial mathematics (1979), A combinatorial approach to generalized powers (1980), Binomial functions with the Stirling property (1981), Some functions that count (1983), Taylor series revisited (1984), Catalan numbers revisited (1985), A special class of infinite matrices (1987), and The ballot problem revisited (1988). Some of her work on binomial functions overlaps that of Gian-Carlo Rota's "polynomials of binomial type". She has had a special interest in the polynomials which are generated by her generalised powers, and hopes that someone will prove or disprove her conjecture, now about 30 years old, that all their zeros lie on the unit circle. This conjecture has now been verified for infinitely many special cases. *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

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

On This Day in Math - April 16


Predictability: Does the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?
~Edward Lorenz
Title of paper presented at the 139th Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (29 Dec 1979)*TIS


The 106th day of the year; The sum of the first 106 digits of pi is prime. Amazingly, I could use this same numerical idea for tomorrow.

EVENTS
1178BC Homer records the events of a solar eclipse. This may have marked the return of Odysseus, legendary King of Ithaca, to his kingdom after the Trojan War. The date is surmised from a passage in Homer's Odyssey, which reads, "The Sun has been obliterated from the sky, and an unlucky darkness invades the world." This happens in the context of a new moon and at noon, both necessary preconditions for a full solar eclipse. In 2008, to investigate, Dr Marcelo O. Magnasco, an astronomer at Rockefeller University, and Constantino Baikouzis, of the Observatorio Astrónomico de La Plata in Argentina, looked for more clues. Within the text, they interpreted three definitive astronomical events: there was a new moon on the day of the slaughter (as required for a solar eclipse); Venus was visible and high in the sky six days before; and the constellations Pleiades and Boötes were both visible at sunset 29 days before. Since these events recur at different intervals, this particular sequence should be unique: the doctors found only one occurrence of this sequence while searching between 1250 and 1115 BC, the 135-year spread around the putative date for the fall of Troy. It coincided with the eclipse of April 16, 1178 BC.*Wik

837 Comet Halley passed 3.2 million miles from Earth, About 13x the lunar distance. *David Dickinson ‏ @Astroguyz (This is the closest to Earth in history. It is recorded widely, and was almost certainly an event in every culture on the planet.)

1610 George Fugger in a letter to Kepler debunks Galileo's claim to inventing the telescope. Fugger, in Venice, a member of the famous banking family who worked as an ambassador for the Holy Roman Empire, wrote to his correspondent Johannes Kepler
in Prague, about Galilei’s eye catching demonstrations in Italy:
"The man [Galilei] [...] intends to be considered the inventor of that ingenious spy-
glass, despite the fact that some Dutchman, on a trip here through France, brought it
here first. It was shown to me and others, and after Galilei saw it, he made others in
imitation of it and, what is easy perhaps, made some improvements to what was already
invented." *Huib J. Zuidervaart, The ‘true inventor’ of the telescope. A survey of
400 years of debate, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam 201

1673 “I conjecture that Mr. Collins himself does not speak of these summations of infinite series because he brings forward the example of the series 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/5, 1/6, ... which if it is continued to infinity cannot be summed because the sum is not finite, like the sum of the triangular numbers, but infinite. But now I am cramped by the space of my paper.” Leibniz to Oldenburg, indicating some hint of a distinction between convergent and divergent series. [The Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg, 9, pp. 599–600.] *VFR

1705 Newton knighted by Queen Anne at Trinity College. [DSB 10, 83] *VFR

1811 Wilhelmine Reichard launched to her first solo flight in a gas balloon, thus becoming Germany`s very first female balloonist. The first recorded manned flight was made in a hot air balloon built by the Montgolfier brothers on 21 November 1783, starting in Paris and reaching a height of almost 200 meters. The very first woman to fly in a ballon followed only 8 months after the first manned flight on June 4, 1784, when opera singer Élisabeth Thible took her place with Mr. Fleurant on board a hot air balloon christened La Gustave in honour of King Gustav III of Sweden. Another early woman balloonist was Jeanne Geneviève Labrosse, who became the first woman to ascend solo in 1798 and, on October 12, 1799, the first woman to make a parachute descent (in the gondola), from an altitude of 900 meters. But also disaster is not far ahead. Ballooning was a risky business for the pioneers. When Marie Madeleine Sopie Blanchard ascended in her hydrogen balloon to watch a firework on July 6, 1819, she should become the first woman to lose her life while flying. Her craft crashed on the roof of a house and she fell to her death. *yovisto.

1866 “At the meeting held April 16th, 1866, Prof. Cayley called attention to the theorem, that the difference between two consecutive prime numbers may exceed any given number N − 1 whatever. For if a, b, c, . . . k are the prime numbers not greater than N, then abc . . . k + 1, and abc . . . k +1+ N may be one or both of them prime, but all the intermediate numbers are composite; that is, the difference of the two successive primes is = N at least.” *Proc. London Math. Soc., vol. 2 (1866-69)

1938 The first William Lowell Putnam competition was held. It was won by the team of three from the University of Toronto. Irving Kaplansky was one of the team members. For the history of this now famous exam for undergraduates, see AMM, 72(1965), p. 474. *VFR

1959 "LISP" Language Unveiled:
The programming language that provided the basis for work in artificial intelligence, LISP, has its first public presentation. Created by John McCarthy, LISP offers programmers flexibility in organization and it or its descendants are still used in the AI development environment.*CHM

2014 Steve Colyer pointed out to me that every day this week when written in the conventional US mo/day/year is a palindrome. Today is 41614, etc.



BIRTHS
1495 Peter Apian (16 Apr 1495; 21 Apr 1552 at age 56)German astronomer and geographer, also known as Petrus Apianus, whose major work was Instrumentum sinuum sivi primi mobilis (1534), in which he gave tables of his calculations of sines for every minute, with a decimal division of the radius. *TIS Apian remained in Ingolstadt until his death. Although he neglected his teaching duties, the university evidently was proud to host such an esteemed scientist. Apian's work included in mathematics—in 1527 he published a variation of Pascal's triangle, and in 1534 a table of sines— as well as astronomy. In 1531, he observed a comet and discovered that a comet's tail always point away from the sun. (Girolamo Fracastoro also detected this in 1531, but Apian's publication was the first to also include graphics.) He designed sundials, published manuals for astronomical instruments and crafted volvelles ("Apian wheels"), measuring instruments useful for calculating time and distance for astronomical and astrological applications.*Wik

1753 Sir Hans Sloane (16 Apr 1660; 11 Jan 1753 at age 92) (Baronet) British physician and naturalist whose collection of books, manuscripts, and curiosities formed the basis for the British Museum in London. By the time he died, Sloane had amassed one of the world's largest and most varied collections of natural history specimens. His passion for the collection and his concern for its future upkeep after his death led him to write a will which clearly stated that it must "remain together and not be separated." He offered it to the British nation, requesting in return a sum of £20,000 for his heirs. Parliament accepted, and King George II gave his royal assent 7 Jun 1753. Thus the British Museum was created and eventually its sister institution, the British Museum of Natural History. *TIS He also invented Hot Chocolate. Sloane encountered cocoa while he was in Jamaica, where the locals drank it mixed with water, and he is reported to have found it nauseating. However, he devised a means of mixing it with milk to make it more pleasant. When he returned to England, he brought his chocolate recipe back with him. *Wik The myth that Sloan had invented the process of Hot Chocolate, which is still strongly promoted in the shops in Chelsea that feature this product, is a myth. See James Delbourgo's Article on Sloan and Cocoa here. Skipping to page 78 for details of the history of Chocolate in use around Europe in the 17th century. It had been used for much longer by the natives of South America with some apparent religious or spiritual relationship. A book of recipes was published in England for Hot Chocolate in 1662, when Sloane would have been not quite two years old.


1682 John Hadley (16 Apr 1682; 14 Feb 1744 at age 61) British mathematician and inventor who perfected methods for grinding and polishing telescope lenses. Hadley improved the reflecting telescope (first introduced by Newton in 1668) and produced the first of its kind having sufficient accuracy and power to be useful in astronomy. It had a 6 inch mirror. He is also known for the reflecting octant (1730) used at sea to measure the altitude of the Sun or a celestial body above the horizon to within one second of arc. It was the ancestor of the modern nautical sextant. He was a prominent member of the Royal Society, of which he was vice-president from 21 Feb 1728. John Hadley was the older brother of George Hadley.*TIS

1728 Joseph Black (16 Apr 1728; 6 Dec 1799 at age 71)Scottish chemist and physicist who experimented with "fixed air" (carbon dioxide), discovered bicarbonates and identified latent heat. He lectured in chemistry, anatomy at the University of Glasgow, while also a physician. From heated magnesia alba (magnesium carbonate), Black collected a gas, carbon dioxide, different from common air. He published Experiments Upon Magnesia Alba, Quicklime, and Some Other Alcaline Substances (1756). Carbon dioxide was also released by fermentation, respiration, and burning charcoal so he assumed it was in the atmosphere. He also observed that ice melts without change of temperature, due to heat that becomes "hidden" - latent heat - and determined "specific heat" for heated of materials.*TIS

1823 Ferdinand Gotthold Max Eisenstein (16 Apr 1823; 11 Oct 1852 at age 29)
German mathematician whose work covered a range of topics including the theory of elliptic functions, and quadratic and cubic forms, which led to cyclotomy, the reciprocity theorem for cubic residues, and also theorems for quadratic and biquadratic residues from partition of prime numbers. *TIS Gauss said of him, "There have been only three epoch-making mathematicians, Archimedes, Newton, and Eisenstein."

1894 Jerzy Neyman (16 Apr 1894; 5 Aug 1981 at age 87) Russian-American mathematician who was one of the principal architects of modern theoretical statistics. His papers on hypothesis testing (1928-33) helped establish the subject. During 1934-38, he gave a theory of confidence intervals (important in the analysis of data); extended statistical theory to contagious distributions, (for interpretation of biological data); wrote on sampling stratified populations (which led to such applications as the Gallup Poll); and developed the model for randomised experiments (widely relevant across the fields of science, including agriculture, biology, medicine, and physical sciences). His later research applied statistics to meteorology and medicine. In 1968 he was awarded the prestigious National Medal of Science.*TIS

DEATHS
1446 Sometimes given as the date of the Death of the architect Filippo Brunelleschi, who helped develop a systematic theory of mathematical perspective. He is especially noted for his design of the Duomo in Florence. More Commonly given date is the 15th

1756 Jacques Cassini (18 Feb 1677; 16 Apr 1756 at age 79) French astronomer whose direct measurement of the proper motions of the stars (1738) disproved the ancient belief in the unchanging sphere of the stars. He also studied the moons of Jupiter and Saturn and the structure of Saturn's rings. His two major treatises on these subject appeared in 1740: Elements of Astronomy and Astronomical Tables of the Sun, Moon, Planets, Fixed Stars, and Satellites of Jupiter and Saturn. He also wrote about electricity, barometers, the recoil of firearms, and mirrors. He was the son of astronomer, mathematician and engineer Giovanni Cassini (1625-1712) with whom he made numerous geodesic observations. Eventually, he took over his father's duties as head of the Paris Observatory.*TIS Cassini was born at the Paris Observatory and died at Thury, near Clermont. Admitted at the age of seventeen to membership of the French Academy of Sciences, he was elected in 1696 a fellow of the Royal Society of London, and became maître des comptes in 1706. *Wik

1788 Comte Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon (7 Sep 1707, 16 Apr 1788 at age 80) French naturalist who formulated a crude theory of evolution and was the first to suggest that the earth might be older than suggested by the Bible. In 1739 he was appointed keeper of the Jardin du Roi, a post he occupied until his death. There he worked on a comprehensive work on natural history, for which he is remembered, Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière. He began this work in 1749, and it dominated the rest of his life. It would eventually run to 44 volumes, including quadrupeds, birds, reptiles and minerals. He proposed (1778) that the Earth was hot at its creation and, from the rate of cooling, calculated its age to be 75,000 years, with life emerging some 40,000 years ago.*TIS He is remembered in mathematics for a question he asked more than any questions he answered. Buffon's needle problem is a question first posed in the 18th century by Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon:

Suppose we have a floor made of parallel strips of wood, each the same width, and we drop a needle onto the floor. What is the probability that the needle will lie across a line between two strips?

Buffon's needle was the earliest problem in geometric probability to be solved; it can be solved using integral geometry. The solution, in the case where the needle length is not greater than the width of the strips, can be used to design a Monte Carlo-style method for approximating the number π. *Wik

1901 Henry Augustus Rowland (27 Nov 1848, 16 Apr 1901 at age 52) American physicist who invented the concave diffraction grating, which replaced prisms and plane gratings in many applications, and revolutionized spectrum analysis--the resolution of a beam of light into components that differ in wavelength. His first major research was an investigation of the magnetic permeability of iron, steel and nickel, work which won the praise of Maxwell. Another experiment was the first to conclusively demonstrate that the motion of charged bodies produced magnetic effects. In the late 1870s, he established an authoritative figure for the absolute value of the ohm, and redetermined the mechanical equivalent of heat in the early 1880s, demonstrating that the specific heat of water varied with temperature. *TIS

1914 George William Hill (3 Mar 1838, 16 Apr 1914 at age 76)U.S. mathematical astronomer considered by many of his peers to be the greatest master of celestial mechanics of his time. Hill joined the Nautical Almanac Office in 1861. He computed the orbit of the moon while making original contributions to the three body problem. He introduced infinite determinants, a concept which later found application in many fields of mathematics and physics. When Simon Newcomb took over the Nautical Almanac in 1877 and began a complete recomputation of all solar system motions, Hill was assigned the difficult problem of the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn. After completing the enormous labor in ten years, he returned to his farm, where he continued his research in celestial mechanics.*TIS

1958 Rosalind Elsie Franklin (25 Jul 1920, 16 Apr 1958 at age 37) was an English physical chemist and X-ray crystallographer who contributed to the discovery of the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), a constituent of chromosomes that serves to encode genetic information. Beginning in 1951, she made careful X-ray diffraction photographs of DNA, leading her to suspect the helical form of the molecule, at least under the conditions she had used. When James Watson saw her photographs, he had confirmation of the double-helix form that he and Francis Crick then published. She never received the recognition she deserved for her independent work, but had died of cancer four years before the Nobel Prize was awarded to Crick and Watson. *TIS

2008 Edward Lorenz (23 May 1917, 16 Apr 2008 at age 90)American mathematician and meteorologist known for pointing out the "butterfly effect" whereby chaos theory predicts that "slightly differing initial states can evolve into considerably different states." In his 1963 paper in the Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, he cited the flapping of a seagull's wings as changing the state of the atmosphere in even such a trivial way can result in huge changes in outcome in weather patterns. Thus very long range weather forecasting becomes almost impossible. He determined this unexpected result in 1961 while running a computer weather simulation that gave wildly different results from even tiny changes in the input data. *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

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

On This Day in Math - April 15

Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore, *Wik


For since the fabric of the universe is most perfect and the work of a most wise creator, nothing at all takes place in the universe in which some rule of the maximum or minimum does not appear.
~Leonhard Euler


The 105th day of the year, Paul Erdős conjectured that this is the largest number n such that the positive values of n - 2k are all prime. *Prime Curios

EVENTS
In 1726, writer William Stukeley held a conversation with Isaac Newton in Kensington during which Newton recalled “when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind.” Later, Stukeley writing in his Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton's Life, recorded that Newton said, “It was occasioned by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood. Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground, thought he to himself. Why should it not go sideways or upwards, but constantly to the earth's centre.” *TIS The story was also related to John Conduitt who was Newton's assistant at the Royal mint, and the husband of Newton's niece. The idea that the apple hit Newton on the head seems to date from the early 20th Century. A copy of the page of Stukeley's manuscript where he tells this story is available on-line at the Royal Society.

In 1770, Dr. Joseph Priestley made the first mention in English that a piece of a rubber substance could erase marks from black-lead pencils. At the end of the Preface to his work, Familiar Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Perspective, he described it: "Since this Work was printed off, I have seen a substance excellently adapted to the purpose of wiping from paper the mark of a black-lead-pencil. It must, therefore, be of singular use to those who practise drawing. It is sold by Mr Nairne, Mathematical Instrument Maker, opposite the Royal Exchange. He sells a cubical piece of about half an inch for three shillings; and he says it will last several years." *TIS

In 1895, a mathematical relationship between the frequencies of the hydrogen light spectrum was reported by a Swiss school teacher, Johann Balmer, in Annalen der Physik. Its significance was overlooked until Niels Bohr realized this showed a structure of energy levels of the electron in the hydrogen atom. *TIS

In 1912, the fourth dimension was spoken of by Albert Einstein as time. *TIS

1952 The first bank credit card was issued by Franklin National Bank, Franklin Square, New York. Purchases were charged to the bank, which made the payments, and then billed the card holders. *FFF

In 1966, the first X-ray three-dimensional stereo fluoroscopic system was installed for use in heart catherization by Richard J Kuhn. The $30,000 machine, developed by Joseph Quinn was put into use at the University of Oregon Medical Center, Portland, Oregon, U.S. The X-ray tube had one anode but two cathodes, an image intensifier with polarizers, and a synchronized analyzer. This produced a 3D image that could be seen through a viewing mirror without the use of special glasses. *TIS

1977 First West Coast Computer Faire Begins:
The first West Coast Computer Faire begins, featuring the debut of the Apple II from Apple Computer. The new machine includes innovations such as built-in high-resolution color graphics. For about $1,300, buyers receive a machine and built-in keyboard, 16 kilobytes of memory, BASIC, and eight expansion slots.*CHM

The 1981 Pulitzer prize winner The Soul of a New Machine describes the development of their ECLIPSE computer. *VFR


BIRTHS
1452 Leonardo da Vinci (15 Apr 1452; 2 May 1519 at age 67) Italian painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect, and engineer. Da Vinci was a great engineer and inventor who designed buildings, bridges, canals, forts and war machines. He kept huge notebooks sketching his ideas. Among these, he was fascinated by birds and flying and his sketches include such fantastic designs as flying machines. These drawings demonstrate a genius for mechanical invention and insight into scientific inquiry, truly centuries ahead of their time. His greater fame lies in being one of the greatest painters of all times, best known for such paintings as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.*TIS In an interesting blog Thony Christie pointed out that "... Leonardo played absolutely no role what so ever in the history of science and or technology because none of his voluminous writings on those subjects saw the light of day before the 19th century when they were nothing more than a historic curiosity, admittedly a fascinating curiosity but nothing more than that.. " *Renaissance Mathematicus

1548 Pietro Antonio Cataldi (15 April 1548, Bologna – 11 February 1626, Bologna) was an Italian mathematician. A citizen of Bologna, he taught mathematics and astronomy and also worked on military problems. His work included the development of continued fractions and a method for their representation. He was one of many mathematicians who attempted to prove Euclid's fifth postulate. Cataldi discovered (actually re-discovered, see bottom of article) the sixth and seventh primes later to acquire the designation Mersenne primes by 1588. His discovery of the 6th, that corresponding to p=17 in the formula Mp=2p-1, exploded a many-times repeated number-theoretical myth (Until Cataldi, 19 authors going back to Nicomachus are reported to have made the claim in L.E.Dickson's History of the Theory of Numbers--with a few more repeating this afterward) that the perfect numbers had units digits that invariably alternated between 6 and 8; and that of the 7th (for p=19) held the record for the largest known prime for almost two centuries, until Leonhard Euler discovered that 231 - 1 was the eighth Mersenne prime. Although Cataldi also claimed that p=23, 29, 31 and 37 all also generate Mersenne primes (and perfect numbers), his text's clear demonstration shows that he had genuinely established the fact through p=19.. *Wik In 1613 he published an important early work on continued fractions. The term “continued fraction” was coined by John Wallis in 1655. [DSB 3, 125]
(earlier discoverers of 5th-7th perfect numbers: Ismail ibn Ibrahim ibn Fallus (1194-1239) who wrote a treatise based on the Introduction to arithmetic by Nicomachus. Ibn Fallus gave, in his treatise, a table of ten numbers which were claimed to be perfect, the first seven are correct and are in fact the first seven perfect numbers, the remaining three numbers are incorrect.

The fifth perfect number has been discovered again (after the unknown results of the Arabs) and written down in a manuscript dated 1461. It is also in a manuscript which was written by Regiomontanus during his stay at the University of Vienna, which he left in 1461, see . It has also been found in a manuscript written around 1458, while both the fifth and sixth perfect numbers have been found in another manuscript written by the same author probably shortly after 1460. All that is known of this author is that he lived in Florence and was a student of Domenico d'Agostino Vaiaio.

In 1536, Hudalrichus Regius made the first breakthrough which was to become common knowledge to later mathematicians, when he published Utriusque Arithmetices in which he gave the factorisation 211 - 1 = 2047 = 23 . 89. With this he had found the first prime p such that 2p-1(2p - 1) is not a perfect number. He also showed that 213 - 1 = 8191 is prime so he had discovered (and made his discovery known) the fifth perfect number \(2^12(2^13 - 1) = 33550336. \)

J Scheybl gave the sixth perfect number in 1555 in his commentary to a translation of Euclid's Elements. This was not noticed until 1977 and therefore did not influence progress on perfect numbers. *SAU

1707 Leonhard Euler (15 Apr 1707, 18 Sep 1783) 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")


He was the most productive mathematician of all times; his still only partly published collected works comprise over 75 large volumes. *VFR

1793 Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve (15 Apr 1793, 23 Nov 1864) German-Russian astronomer, one of the greatest 19th-century astronomers and the first in a line of four generations of distinguished astronomers. He founded the modern study of binary (double) stars. In 1817, he became director of the Dorpat Observatory, which he equipped with a 9.5-inch (24-cm) refractor that he used in a massive survey of binary stars from the north celestial pole to 15°S. He measured 3112 binaries - discovering well over 2000 - and cataloged his results in Stellarum Duplicium Mensurae Micrometricae (1837). In 1835, Czar Nicholas I persuaded Struve to set up a new observatory at Pulkovo, near St. Petersburg. There in 1840 Struve became, with Friedrich Bessel and Thomas Henderson, one of the first astronomers to detect parallax. *TIS

1809 Hermann Günther Grassmann (15 Apr 1809, 26 Sep 1877) German mathematician chiefly remembered for his development of a general calculus of vectors in Die lineale Ausdehnungslehre, ein neuer Zweig der Mathematik (1844; "The Theory of Linear Extension, a New Branch of Mathematics"). *TIS One of the many examinations for which Grassmann sat, required that he submit an essay on the theory of the tides. In 1840, he did so, taking the basic theory from Laplace's Mécanique céleste and from Lagrange's Mécanique analytique, but expositing this theory making use of the vector methods he had been mulling over since 1832. This essay, first published in the Collected Works of 1894-1911, contains the first known appearance of what are now called linear algebra and the notion of a vector space. He went on to develop those methods in the book mentioned above. In spite of publishing the idea somewhat early in his career, it seems his work went largely unnoticed until the last decade of his life.*Wik

1874 Johannes Stark (15 Apr 1874; 21 Jun 1957 at age 83) German physicist who won the 1919 Nobel Prize for Physics for his discovery in 1913 that an electric field would cause splitting of the lines in the spectrum of light emitted by a luminous substance; the phenomenon is called the Stark effect. *TIS

1927 Robert L. Mills (15 Apr 1927; 27 Oct 1999 at age 72) American physicist who shared the 1980 Rumford Premium Prize with his colleague Chen Ning Yang for their “development of a generalized gauge invariant field theory” in 1954. They proposed a tensor equation for what are now called Yang-Mills fields. Their mathematical work was aimed at understanding the strong interaction holding together nucleons in atomic nuclei. They constructed a more generalized view of electromagnetism, thus Maxwell's Equations can be derived as a special case from their tensor equation. Quantum Yang-Mills theory is now the foundation of most of elementary particle theory, and its predictions have been tested at many experimental laboratories.*TIS

1929 Thomas Brooke Benjamin​, FRS (15 April 1929 – 16 August 1995) was an English mathematical physicist and mathematician, best known for his work in mathematical analysis and fluid mechanics, especially in applications of nonlinear differential equations. *Wik

1934 Professor James "Jim" Wiegold (15 April 1934 – 4 August 2009) was a Welsh mathematician. He earned a PhD at the University of Manchester in 1958, studying under Bernhard Neumann, and is most notable for his contributions to group theory.*Wik

DEATHS
1446 Filippo Brunelleschi (1377 in Florence, Italy - 15 April 1446 in Florence, Italy) Brunelleschi's most important achievement in mathematics came around 1415 when he rediscovered the principles of linear perspective using mirrors. He understood that there should be a single vanishing point to which all parallel lines in a plane, other than the plane of the canvas, converge. Also important was his understanding of scale, and he correctly computed the relation between the actual length of an object and its length in the picture depending on its distance behind the plane of the canvas. Using these mathematical principles, he drew various scenes of Florence with correct perspective. These perspective drawings by Brunelleschi have since been lost but a "Trinity" fresco by Masaccio still exists which uses Brunelleschi's mathematical principles. He is best known for best known for his construction of the dome of Florence's cathedral, the Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore.*SAU

1704 Johan van Waveren Hudde (23 Apr 1628, 15 Apr 1704 at age 76) Dutch mathematician and statesman who, after an education in law, became interested in mathematics, though for a limited time (1654-63). He worked on improving the algebraic methods of René Descartes, seeking to extend them to the solution of equations of a higher degree by applying an algorithm. He also developed an algorithm based on Fermat's method to deal with the maxima, minima and tangents to curves of algebraic functions. Later, he served as burgomaster of Amsterdam for 30 years. During this time time he made a mathematical study of annuities. Hudde continued with an interest in physics and astronomy, producing lenses and microscopes. He collaborated with Baruch Spinoza, of Amsterdam, on telescopes. Hudde determine that in a telescope, a plano-convex lenses were better than concavo-convex . *TIS

1754 Jacopo Francesco Riccati (28 May 1676 in Venice, Venetian Republic (now Italy) - 15 April 1754 in Treviso, Venetian Republic (now Italy)) His work had a wide influence on leading mathematicians such as Daniel Bernoulli, who studied the equation in his Exercitationes quaedam mathematicae, and Leonard Euler who extended Riccati's ideas to integration of non-homogeneous linear differential equations of any order. Riccati also worked on cycloidal pendulums, the laws of resistance in a fluid and differential geometry. *SAU

1873 Christopher Hansteen (26 Sep 1784, 15 Apr 1873 at age 88) Norwegian astronomer and physicist who is noted for his research in geomagnetism. In 1701, Edmond Halley had already published a map of magnetic declinations, and the subject was studied by Humboldt, de Borda, and Gay-Lussac, among others. Hansteen collected available data and also mounted an expedition to Siberia, where he took many measurements for an atlas of magnetic strength and declination. *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