Monday, 22 December 2014

On This Day in Math - December 22


Scientists are the true driving force of civilization.
~James Burke

The 356th day of the year; There are 356 ways to partition the number 36 into distinct parts without a unit.


1666 Seven mathematicians and seven physicists met at the king’s Library to inaugurate the French Academy of sciences. They would not receive a formal decree of protection from Louis XIV until 1699. For three centuries women were not allowed as members of the Academy. The first female full member was Yvonne Choquet-Bruhat in 1979. *VFR The society was an outgrowth of an informal community of scientists who coordinated their research efforts through the efforts of Marin Mersenne, a monk at the Minim monastery, who had exchanged 10,000 letters with them. *TIS

1669 John Wallis in a letter to Thomas Smith of Madalene College writes “In a dark night, in bed, without pen, ink or paper or anything equivalent, I did by memory extract the square root of 30000,00000,00000,00000,00000,00000,00000,00000, which I found to be 1,73205,08075,68077,29353, etc. and did the next day commit it to writing.” (Wallis wrote this some 12 years after the event, but there is sufficient evidence elsewhere of his prodigious powers of calculation to lend the story some credence.) *Jacqueline A. Stedall, Our Own Nation

1831 The first use of Sir Francis Beaufort's scale of windforce in an official log was by Captain Robert Fitzroy on the first day of the voyage of exploration of the HMS Beagle that included a young naturalist named Charles Darwin. *Isaac's Storm, Erik Larson

1866 L E Becker wrote to Darwin to ask if he would “be so very good as to send us a paper to be read at our first meeting”. “Of course we are not so unreasonable as to desire that you should write anything specially for us” Becker said, “but I think it possible you may have by you a copy of some paper such as that on the Linum which you have communicated to the learned societies but which is unknown and inaccessible to us unless through your kindness.”
Darwin responded by sending not one but three papers to be read at the ladies’ inaugural meeting. Whether Darwin realized that he was providing materials for a feminist organization is unclear, although Becker’s use of headed paper and the enclosure in her letter to Darwin of the society’s first pamphlet certainly made no secret of her political affiliations.
Regardless, what is interesting is that despite what he said in the public context about women’s intellectual in-capabilities and designated social role, in private his thoughts and actions were very different. Darwin was happy to work in collaboration with many women like Becker. He encouraged women’s scientific interests wherever possible, frequently sharing observations, samples and reading materials with women across the world. In some rare instances he was even happy to acknowledge that a woman’s scientific skill and knowledge might be superior to his own! *Darwin and Gender, the blog)

In 1870, Charles Augustus Young, an American astronomer, made the first observations of the flash spectrum of the Sun. He was a pioneer in the study of the spectrum of the sun and experimented in photographing solar prominences in full sunlight. On 22 Dec 1870, at the eclipse in Spain, he saw the lines of the solar spectrum all become bright for perhaps a second and a half (the "flash spectrum") and announced the "reversing layer." In his career, he also proved the gaseous nature of the sun's corona. By exploring from the high altitude of Sherman, Wy. (1872), he more than doubled the number of bright lines he had observed in the chromosphere. By a comparison of observations, he concluded that magnetic conditions on the earth respond to solar disturbances.

1877 Alfred Beach, editor of Scientific American wrote, "Mr. Thomas A. Edison recently came into this office, placed a little machine on our desk, turned a crank, and the machine inquired as to our health, asked how we liked the phonograph, informed us that it was well, and bid us a cordial good night. These remarks were not only perfectly audible to ourselves, but to a dozen or more persons gathered around." *TIS

1882 First electrical lights for a Christmas tree. Edward Hibberd Johnson, an American electrical engineer and inventor,spent many years in various business projects with Thomas Edison. Johnson created the first electric lights on a Christmas tree on 22 Dec 1882.*TIS

In 1885, a U.S. patent for a gravity switchback railway was issued to La Marcus Adna Thompson of Coney Island, N.Y. (No. 332,762). In 1884, Thompson, the "Father of the Gravity Ride," opened a 600-ft roller-coaster at Coney Island at 6-mph maximum. Its popularity enabled him to recoup his $1,600 investment in only three weeks. In this patent he described a railway on trestles with two parallel tracks undulating vertically. At the end of the first track, a switch automatically allowed the car to return on the second track. His design in an earlier patent (20 Jan 1885, No. 310,966) needed passengers to temporarily get out of the car at the end of the first track while assistants prepared it to return on the second track.) *TIS

1955 The FINAC, the Italian Mark I*, is inaugurated in Rome. The Mark I*, the commercial prototype of Manchester's Mark I, was built by English Ferranti Ltd., for UNESCO's International Computational Center in Rome. This completely electronic computer arrived. *CHM

2006 The journal Science honored Grigori Perelman Perelman's proof of the Poincaré conjecture as the scientific "Breakthrough of the Year", the first time this had been bestowed in the area of mathematics. *Wik


1765 Johann Friedrich Pfaff born in Stuttgart, Germany. Laplace, when asked who the greatest mathematician in Germany, replied, Pfaff. When the questioner said he should have thought Gauss was, Laplace replied: “Pfaff is the greatest mathematician in Germany; but Gauss is the greatest in all Europe.” [Quoted from Cajori, A History of Mathemtics, in AMM 8(1901), p. 26] *VFR (22 Dec 1765; 21 Apr 1825) He proposed the first general method of integrating partial differential equations of the first order. Pfaff did important work on special functions and the theory of series. He developed Taylor's Theorem using the form with remainder as given by Lagrange. In 1810 he contributed to the solution of a problem due to Gauss concerning the ellipse of greatest area which could be drawn inside a given quadrilateral. His most important work on Pfaffian forms was published in 1815 when he was nearly 50, but its importance was not recognised until 1827 when Jacobi published a paper on Pfaff's method. *TIS

1799 Nicholas Joseph Callan (22 Dec 1799; 10 Jan 1864) Irish pioneering scientist in electrical science, who invented the induction coil (1836) before that of better-known Heinrich Ruhmkorff. Callan's coil was built using a horseshoe shaped iron bar wound with a secondary coil of thin insulated wire under a separate winding of thick insulated wire as the "primary" coil. Each time a battery's current through the "primary" coil was interrupted, a high voltage current was produced in the electrically separate "secondary" coil. By 1837, Callan used a clock mechanism to rock a wire in and out of a small cup of mercury to interrupt the circuit 20 times/sec on a giant induction machine, producing 15-inch sparks (estimated at 600,000 volts)*TIS

1819  Pierre-Ossian Bonnet whose favorite field was differential geometry, a field opened by Euler, Monge, and Gauss, but lacking systematic treatment when Bonnet took it up in the 1840s. *VFR

1824 Francesco Brioschi (22 Dec 1824 in Milan, Lombardo-Veneto (now Italy)- 14 Dec 1897 in Milan, Italy) a professor at Pavia who contributed to the study of mathematical physics.*SAU

1859 Otto Ludwig Hölder (22 Dec 1859 in Stuttgart, Germany - 29 Aug 1937 in Leipzig, Germany) worked on the convergence of Fourier series and in 1884 he discovered the inequality now named after him. He became interested in group theory through Kronecker and Klein and proved the uniqueness of the factor groups in a composition series.*SAU

1859 Enrico Barone (22 Dec 1859; 14 May 1924) Italian mathematical economist who built on the general equilibrium theory of Léon Walras and was instrumental in convincing Walras to incorporate variable production techniques - and, by extension, marginal productivity theory - into the Walras theory. Barone's greatest contribution was in getting the "Socialist Calculation" debate started with his famous 1908 article. His position was that it was indeed possible in a collectivist state for a planning agency to calculate prices for maximum efficiency. He was the first to apply indifference curve analysis to compare the relative burdens of income taxes and excise taxes (1912). He opposed "progressive" taxation schemes as based on dubious utilitarian calculations.*TIS

1887 Srinivasa Ramanujan (22 Dec 1887; 26 Apr 1920) Indian mathematician known for his work on hypergeometric series and continued fractions. In number theory, he discovered properties of the partition function. Although self-taught, he was one of India's greatest mathematical geniuses. He worked on elliptic functions, continued fractions, and infinite series. His remarkable familiarity with numbers, was shown by the following incident. While Ramanujan was in hospital in England, his Cambridge professor, G. H. Hardy, visited and remarked that he had taken taxi number 1729, a singularly unexceptional number. Ramanujan immediately responded that this number was actually quite remarkable: it is the smallest integer that can be represented in two ways by the sum of two cubes: 1729=13+123=93+103. *TIS

1897 Vojtěch Jarník ( 22 Dec 1897 in Prague, Bohemia (now Czech Republic) - 22 Sept 1970 in Prague, Czechoslovakia) was a Czech mathematician.
His main area of work was in number theory and mathematical analysis; he proved a number of results on lattice point problems. He also developed the graph theory algorithm known as Prim's algorithm.
The Vojtěch Jarník International Mathematical Competition, held each year in Ostrava, is named in his honor.*Wik

1898 Vladimir Aleksandrovich Fock​ (December 22, 1898 – December 27, 1974) was a Soviet physicist, who did foundational work on quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics.*Wik

1911 Grote Reber (22 Dec 1911; 20 Dec 2002) U.S. amateur astronomer and radio engineer who self-financed and built the first radio telescope. He pioneered the new field of radio astronomy, and was the first to systematically study the sky by observing non-visible radiation. After reading about Jansky's discovery (1932) of natural radio emissions from space, Reber constructed a 9-meter dish antenna in his back yard and built three different detectors before finding 160 MHz signals (1939). In 1940 and 1944 he published articles titled Cosmic Static in the Astrophysical Journal. He was the first to express received radio signals in terms of flux density and brightness, first to find evidence that galactic radiation is non-thermal, and first to produce radio maps of the sky (1941).*TIS

1936 James Burke (22 December 1936, ) is a British broadcaster, science historian, author and television producer known amongst other things for his documentary television series Connections (1978) and its more philosophical oriented companion production, The Day the Universe Changed (1985), focusing on the history of science and technology leavened with a sense of humour. The Washington Post​ has called him "one of the most intriguing minds in the Western world".*Wik

1937 Arthur Jaffe (December 22, 1937, ) is an American mathematical physicist and a professor at Harvard University. He attended Princeton University as an undergraduate obtaining a degree in chemistry, and later Clare College, Cambridge, as a Marshall Scholar, obtaining a degree in mathematics. He then returned to Princeton, obtaining a doctorate in physics.
With James Glimm, he founded the subject called constructive quantum field theory. One of their major achievements was to show the mathematical compatibility of quantum theory, special relativity, and interaction. They did this by proving the existence of the first examples of non-linear, relativistic quantum fields with non-trivial scattering. Jaffe's work in several related fields of mathematics and physics is well-known, including contributions to gauge theory and to non-commutative geometry.
For several years Jaffe was president of the International Association of Mathematical Physics, and later of the American Mathematical Society. He chaired the Council of Scientific Society Presidents.
Jaffe conceived the idea of the Clay Mathematics Institute and its programs, including the employment of research fellows and the Millennium Prizes in mathematics. The latter immediately captured public imagination worldwide. He served as a founding Member, a founding member of the Board, and the founding President of that organization.
Currently Jaffe teaches Mathematical Physics and pursues research at Harvard University. His doctoral students include Joel Feldman, Ezra Getzler, and Clifford Taubes. *Wik


1640 Jean Beaugrand (about 1590 in Paris, France - 22 Dec 1640 in Paris, France) was a French mathematician who published works on Geostatics as well as mathematics. *SAU

1660 André Tacquet (23 June 1612 Antwerp – 22 December 1660 Antwerp, also referred to by his Latinized name Andrea Tacquet[) was a Flemish mathematician and Jesuit Priest. His work prepared ground for the eventual discovery of the calculus.
He was born in Antwerp, and entered the Jesuit Order in 1629. From 1631 to 1635, he studied mathematics, physics and logic at Leuven. Two of his teachers were Saint-Vincent and Francois d'Aguilon.
Tacquet became a brilliant mathematician of international fame and his works were often reprinted and translated (into Italian and English). He helped articulate some of the preliminary concepts necessary for Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz to recognize the inverse nature of the quadrature and the tangent. He was one of the precursors of the infinitesimal calculus, developed by John Wallis. His most famous work, which influenced the thinking of Blaise Pascal and his contemporaries, is Cylindricorum et annularium (1651). In this book Tacquet presented how a moving point could generate a curve and the theories of area and volume. *Wik

1693 Elisabetha Koopman (17 Jan 1647 in Danzig, now Gdańsk, Poland - 22 Dec 1693 in Danzig, now Gdańsk, Poland) was the wife of the Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius and helped him with his observations.*SAU

1828 William Hyde Wollaston (6 Aug 1766, 22 Dec 1828) English scientist who discovered palladium (1803) and rhodium (1804), during his investigation of platinum ore. He developed a method of forming platinum - powder-metallurgy - and was the first to produce malleable and ductile platinum on a commercial scale. He made his method public at the Royal Society on 28 Nov 1828, shortly before his death. In 1801 he proved experimentally that frictional and current electricity are the same. He is particularly noted for being the first to observe dark lines in the spectrum of the sun which eventually led to the discovery of the elements in the Sun. He constructed the Wollaston prism, a polarizing beam splitter (now applied in the CD player), and invented the camera lucida. *TIS

1867 Jean-Victor Poncelet (1 Jul 1788, 22 Dec 1867). French mathematician and engineer whose study of the pole and polar lines associated with conic led to the principle of duality. While serving as an engineer in Napoleon's 1812 Russian campaign, he was left for dead at Krasnoy, but then captured. During his imprisonment he studied projective geometry and wrote a treatise on analytic geometry. Released in 1814, he returned to France, and in 1822 published Traité des propriétés projectives des figures in which he presented his fundamental ideas of projective geometry such as the cross-ratio, perspective, involution and the circular points at infinity. As a professor of mechanics (1825-35), he applied mechanics to improve waterwheels and was able to double their efficiency. *TIS

1928 Henry Burchard Fine born in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. After earning his Ph.D. in Germany he joined the Princeton faculty. He is responsible for building that department into a world class mathematics department. The mathematics building at Princeton is named in his honor.*VFR (Fine Hall is the tallest building on the campus) He was president of the American Mathematical Society in 1911-12.Fine wrote:

Euclid's Elements (1891)
The Number System of Algebra (1891; second edition, 1903) PDF/DjVu copy from Internet Archive.
A College Algebra (1904)
Coördinate Geometry, with Henry Dallas Thompson (1909) PDF Copy from University of Michigan Historical Math Collection.
Calculus (1927)

1994 John Arthur Todd FRS (23 August 1908 – 22 December 1994) was a British geometer. He was born in Liverpool, and went to Trinity College of the University of Cambridge in 1925. He did research under H.F. Baker, and in 1931 took a position at the University of Manchester. He became a lecturer at Cambridge in 1937. He remained at Cambridge for the rest of his working life.[2]
The Todd class in the theory of the higher-dimensional Riemann–Roch theorem is an example of a characteristic class (or, more accurately, a reciprocal of one) that was discovered by Todd in work published in 1937. It used the methods of the Italian school of algebraic geometry. The Todd–Coxeter process for coset enumeration is a major method of computational algebra, and dates from a collaboration with H.S.M. Coxeter in 1936. In 1953 he and Coxeter discovered the Coxeter–Todd lattice. In 1954 he and G. C. Shephard classified the finite complex reflection groups.
In March 1948 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. *Wik

2001 Luís Antoni Santaló Sors (October 9, 1911 – November 22, 2001) was a Spanish mathematician.
He graduated from the University of Madrid and he studied at the University of Hamburg, where he received his Ph.D. in 1936. His advisor was Wilhelm Blaschke. Because of the Spanish Civil War, he moved to Argentina where he became a very famous mathematician.
He studied integral geometry and many other topics of mathematics and science.
He worked as a teacher in the National University of the Littoral, National University of La Plata and University of Buenos Aires. *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

Sunday, 21 December 2014

On This Day in Math - December 21

Home Fires in Possum Trot

In his wretched life of less than twenty-seven years Abel accomplished so much of the highest order that one of the leading mathematicians of the Nineteenth Century (Hermite, 1822-1901) could say without exaggeration, 'Abel has left mathematicians enough to keep them busy for five hundred years.' Asked how he had done all this in the six or seven years of his working life, Abel replied, 'By studying the masters, not the pupils.'
~Eric Temple Bell

The 355th day of the year; 355 is the 12th Tribonacci number, Like Fibonacci but start with 1,1,1 and each new term is the sum of the previous three terms.


1614 The first public ecclesiastical attack on Gallileo was launced from the pulpit of Santa Maria Novella in Florence by Father Thomas Caccini who denounced Galileo with his biblical proof quoting the scripture when God stopped the sun in the sky to help Joshua defeat the Amorites. His attack included all mathematicians, and indeed, mathematics itself as religious and political heresy. *Brody & Brody, The Science Class You Wish You Had

1671 Newton proposed for membership in the Royal Society of London by Seth Ward. See 11 January 1672. *VFR

1732 A Letter from Mr. Colin Mac Laurin, Math. Prof. Edinburg. F. R. S. to Mr. John Machin,. concerning the Description of Curve Lines. Communicated to the Royal Society on December 21, 1732 *Phil. Trans. 1735 39:143-165

1752 A letter of Benjamin Franklin on October 1st, to Mr. Peter Collinson, FRS concerning an electrical kite, was read before the society on Dec 21. Franklin describes the construction of the kite from two light strips of cedar and a large thin silk handerchief,
*Phil. Trans. 1751 47:565-567

1754 Louis-Bertrand Castel, vociferous opponent of Newtonian science, gave a demonstration of his ocular harpsicord, which corresponded colors with the musical tones. *VFR

1807 Joseph Fourier announced to the French Academy of Science that an arbitrary function could be expanded as an infinite series of sines and cosines (we now call them Fourier series). *VFR Fourier's memoir On the Propagation of Heat in Solid Bodies, was read to the Paris Institute, an important mathematical work, containing what we now call Fourier series, which he had worked upon since around 1804. A committee consisting of Lagrange, Laplace, Monge and Lacroix was set up to report on the work. Although now highly regarded, at the time, this memoir caused controversy. Lagrange and Laplace objected to Fourier's expansions of functions as trigonometrical series (the Fourier series). It was not until 1822 that his prize winning essay Théorie analytique de la chaleur was published by the Académie des Sciences. Delambre, Secretary to the mathematical section, had arranged for the printing before he died.*TIS

In 1829, first stone arch railroad bridge in US was dedicated at Baltimore. The Carrollton Viaduct crosses a wooded stretch of Gwynn's Falls. The viaduct was named for Charles Carroll of Carrollton, signer of the Declaration of Independence, who laid the first stone of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad on 4 Jul 1828. Construction took over 9 months. Some 1,500 tons of granite were supported on huge wooden frameworks. until the keystones were in place and the massive 80 ft arch over the stream became self-supporting. Overall, the bridge is about 62-ft tall, and 300-ft long. On New Year's Day, 1830, it became America's first railroad destination, using a horse until the locomotive "Tom Thumb" came later in 1830. Trains have used it ever since.*TIS

1893 Scientist Pierre and Marie Curie discovered radium. *VFR

1913 The first crossword puzzle was published, in the Sunday supplement of the New York World. “Unthinkable as it now seems, there were no crossword puzzles until the newspaperman Arthur Wynne’s simple Word Cross appeared ... on the ‘Fun’ page of The New York World Sunday Magazine *FFF
1946 The Detroit news reports the Purdue yell, “E to the X, DY , DX —
E to the X, DX —
Cosine, Secant, Tangent, Sine —
Three Point One Four One Five Nine —
Square Root, Cube Root, BTU —
Slipstick, Slide Rule, Yea Purdue.”

1968 Integrated Circuits Used in Moonshot :
The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) was responsible for guidance, navigation, and control computations in the Apollo space program. The AGC was the first computer to use integrated circuit logic and occupied less than 1 cubic foot of the spacecraft. It stored data in 15 bit words (with one parity bit) and had a memory cycle time of 11.7 usec. Astronauts communicated with the AGC using the "DSKY" (Display Keyboard) shown on today's homepage. It used digital displays and communicated with austronauts using verb and noun buttons, and a two-digit operation and operand code.
The AGC and DSKY form part of The Computer Museum History Center's permanent collection. *CHM

2006 the journal Science recognized Perelman's proof of the Poincaré conjecture as the scientific "Breakthrough of the Year", the first such recognition in the area of mathematics. *Wik

2011 The winter solstice occurs on this date about half of the time.*VFR (This year is in the other half)

2012 The last date of the Mayan “long count” calendar. The first day of the current Mayan “long count” calendar (adjusted for the Gregorian Calendar) was August 13, 3114 BC. The long count calendar lasts 22,507,528 days and the current calendar will end on December 21 of 2012. What happens then depends on who you read. If the world does NOT end, we will be back to year zero of the Mayan calendar.


1878 Jan Łukasiewicz (Polish pronunciation: [ˈjan wukaˈɕɛvʲitʂ]) (21 December 1878 – 13 February 1956) was a Polish logician and philosopher born in Lwów (Lemberg in German), Galicia, Austria–Hungary (now Lviv, Ukraine). His work centred on analytical philosophy and mathematical logic. He thought innovatively about traditional propositional logic, the principle of non-contradiction and the law of excluded middle.*Wik He created a notation he called Polish Notation (after his homeland) that use the argument of a function before the actual notation for the function to eliminate the need for parenthetical enclosures. This notation is the root of the idea of the recursive stack, a last-in, first-out computer memory store proposed by several researchers including Turing, Bauer and Hamblin, and first implemented in 1957. In 1960, Łukasiewicz notation concepts and stacks were used as the basis of the Burroughs B5000 computer designed by Robert S. Barton and his team at Burroughs Corporation in Pasadena, California. The concepts also led to the design of the English Electric multi-programmed KDF9 computer system of 1963, which had two such hardware register stacks. A similar concept underlies the reverse Polish notation (RPN, a postfix notation) of the Friden EC-130 calculator and its successors, many Hewlett Packard calculators. *Wik

1889 Sewall Green Wright (21 Dec 1889 in Melrose, Massachusetts, USA - 3 March 1988 in Madison, Wisconsin, USA) Wright is famed for his work on evolution, in particular in the use of statistical techniques in the subject. In 1942 he published the Gibbs lecture that he had delivered in the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society. Opatowski writes in a review, "... a review of the prominent work done by the author in the last twelve years towards the establishment of a mathematical theory of evolution. "
Another paper by Wright which shows his mathematical approach to the subject is The differential equation of the distribution of gene frequencies which he published in 1945. He derives differential equations which are satisfied by the probability density function of the distribution of gene frequencies under certain conditions.
In 1950 Wright gave the Galton lecture at University College, London. In this lecture, which was later published as The genetical structure of populations, he systematically applied his method of path coefficients to problems of population structure in a variety of situations such as: random mating and inbreeding; statistical properties of populations; the inbreeding coefficient F; hierarchic structure; natural populations; the island model of structure; isolation by distance; population structure in evolution; ecologic opportunity; and evolution in general. He also presented a number of mathematical appendices in the paper: the method of path coefficients; general coefficients of inbreeding; properties of populations as related to F; the inbreeding coefficient of breeds; regular systems of mating; and isolation by distance.
Fisher and Wright had differing views on the mechanism and importance of natural selection. Their disagreement began in the late 1920s and became increasingly bitter leading to a split among evolutionists. *SAU

1898 Ira Sprague Bowen (21 Dec 1898; 6 Feb 1973) was an American astrophysicist. His investigation of the ultraviolet spectra of highly ionized atoms led to his explanation of the unidentified strong green spectral lines of gaseous nebulae (clouds of rarefied gas) as forbidden lines of ionized oxygen and nitrogen. This emission, appearing to match no known element, had formerly been suggested to be due to a hypothetical element, "nebulium." Bowen was able to show, that in reality, the emission lines exactly matched those calculated to be the "forbidden lines" of ionized oxygen and nitrogen under extremely low pressure. This made a major advance in the knowledge of celestial composition. He was director of the Mt. Wilson and Palomar Observatories from 1948-64.*TIS

1905 Kate Sperling Fenchel (December 21, 1905 - December 19, 1983) Born in Berlin, Germany. Studied mathematics, philosophy, and physics at the University of Berlin from 1924 to 1928. She was encouraged to write a thesis, but she could not afford to continue her studies and research jobs for women appeared to be difficult to obtain. Thus she never received a Ph.D. in mathematics. From 1931 to 1933 she taught mathematics at the high school level, but was fired when the Nazis came to power in Germany because she was Jewish. She emigrated to Denmark with Werner Fenchel, a former fellow student, and the two married in December, 1933. Fenchel worked from 1933 to 1943 for a Danish mathematics professor. In 1943 she had to escape to Sweden with her husband and 3-year old son while Germany occupied Denmark. They returned to Denmark after the end of the war. Fenchel held a part-time lecturer's job at Aarhus University, Denmark, from 1965-1970.
Fenchel did research in finite nonabelian groups and published several papers, the last at the age of 73. *ASC

1929 Douglas T. Ross is born in Canton, China. He received an AB from Oberlin College in 1951 and an SM from MIT in 1954. He worked with John Ward on the Cape Cod Air Defense System Project, held many positions at MIT, including head of the Computer Applications Group at the Electronic System Laboratory, and was project engineer for the MIT Computer-Aided Design project. He developed APT (Automatically Programmed Tools)--now an international standard--and AED (Automated Engineering Design) projects which were early precursors of the languages and systems of modern CAD and CAM systems. These projects were run in close connection with the WHIRLWIND, TX-0, TX-2, Project MAC, and CTSS.
In 1969 Ross founded SoftTech Corporation, where he is now chairman of the board of directors. *CHM


1912 Paul Albert Gordan (27 April 1837 in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland)
- 21 Dec 1912 in Erlangen, Germany) Gordan worked with Clebsch on invariant theory and algebraic geometry. He also gave simplified proofs of the transcendence of e and π. *SAU

1956 Lewis M(adison) Terman (15 Jan 1877, 21 Dec 1956) was a U.S. psychologist who pioneered individual intelligence tests. During WW I, he was involved in mass testing of intelligence for the U.S. army. He expanded an English version of the French Binet-Simon intelligence test with which he introduced the IQ (Intelligence Quotient), being a ratio of chronological age to mental age times 100. (Thus an average child has an IQ of 100). He wrote about this metric in The Measurement of Intelligence (1916). He made a long-term study of gifted children (with IQ above 140) examining mental and physical aspect of their lives reported in the multi-volume Genetic Studies of Genius (1926-59). *TIS

1960 Eric Temple Bell (7 Feb 1883, 21 Dec 1960) Scottish-American mathematician and writer who contributed to analytic number theory (in which he found several inportant theorems), Diophantine analysis and numerical functions. In addition to about 250 papers on mathematical research, he also wrote for the layman in Men of Mathematics (1937) and Mathematics, Queen and Servant of Science (1951) among others. Under the name of John Taine, he also wrote science fiction.*TIS

1976 Vijay Kumar Patodi (March 12, 1945 – December 21, 1976) was an Indian mathematician who made fundamental contributions to differential geometry and topology. He was the first mathematician to apply heat equation methods to the proof of the Index Theorem for elliptic operators.[citation needed] He was a professor at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai (Bombay). *Wik

1980 Vladimir Petrovich Potapov (24 Jan 1914 in Odessa, Ukraine - 21 Dec 1980 in Kharkov, Russia) In 1948 Potapov was invited to the Pedagogical Institute at Odessa. He soon became Head of Mathematics and, from 1952, Dean of the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics. He used his position to invite Livsic and others to the Institute.
During the 1950s Potapov worked on the theory of J-contractive matrix functions and the analysis of matrix functions became his main work. He published papers on the multiplicative theory of analytic matrix functions in the years 1950-55 which contain work from his doctoral thesis. He also worked on interpolation problems.
From 1974 Potapov lectured at Odessa Institute of National Economy, then he went to Kharkov to head the Department of Applied Mathematics at the Institute for low temperature physics. *SAU

1987 Eugene Lukacs (14 August 1906 – 21 December 1987) was a Hungarian statistician born in Szombathely, notable[1] for his work in characterization of distributions, stability theory, and being the author of Characteristic Functions[2], a classic textbook in the field.*Wik

*WM = Women of Mathematics, Grinstein & Campbell
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, 20 December 2014

On This Day in Math - December 20

Our passion for learning is our tool for survival.
Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.
~Carl Sagan

The 354th day of the year; 354 is the sum of the first four fourth powers and is the sum of three distinct primes. (It is also the solution to one version of an unsolved recreational math problem called the Postage Stamp Problem)

1623 Wilhelm Schickard, in a letter to Kepler, described his calculating machine. *Dauben, A Selective Bibliography, p. 251

1883 On the night before J J Sylvesters departure from Johns Hopkins his friends hosted a gala in his honor at Hopkins Hall.

In 1900, Michel Giacobini in France discovered a comet, which was rediscovered by a German, Ernst Zinner, on 23 Oct 1913, and since named the Giacobini-Zinner comet. It returns to the vicinity of the earth every six and two-thirds years. This comet became the first to be visited by a spacecraft. On 11 Sep 1985, the International Cometary Explorer (ICE) flew through its gas tail, 7,800-km downstream from the nucleus, at a speed of 21 km/sec. The nucleus was estimated to be 2.5-km across at its widest diameter. Instruments detected carbon monosulfide and hydroxyl molecules in the comet. The comet is the progenitor of the Draconid meteor shower, visible annually in early October, which produced intense meteor displays in 1933 and 1946.*TIS The most recent was on shower peaked on Oct 8, 2011.

1906 Nature publishes a letter from Francis Galton on "Cutting a round cake on scientific principles." A Numberphile video by Alex Bellos explaining the method is here.

In 1907, the first U.S. scientist to receive the Nobel Prize was Albert Michelson, a German-born ( actually born in Strzelno, Provinz Posen in the Kingdom of Prussia which is now part of Poland) American physicist who received the Nobel Prize for Physics "for his optical precision instruments and the spectroscopic and metrological investigations." He designed the highly accurate Michelson interferometer and used it to accurately measure the speed of light and establish it as a fundamental constant. With Edward Morley, he also used it in an attempt to measure the velocity of the earth through the ether (1887), yielding null results that eventually led Einstein to his theory of relativity. He measured the standard meter bar in Paris to be 1,553,163.5 wavelengths of the red cadmium line (1892-3) *TIS

1910 New Zealand born physicist Ernest Rutherford made his seminal gold foil experiment which led to first insight about the nature of the inner structure of the atom and to the postulation of Rutherford's concept of the "nucleus. He had already received the 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for demonstrating that radioactivity was the spontaneous disintegration of atoms. *Yovista

1943 Norman Bel Geddes to Designs ASSC Machine Cover:
Thomas Watson Jr. informs Harvard University President James B. Conant that Norman Bel Geddes would be designing the cover of the Harvard Mark I computer. Bel Geddes was an American industrial designer who also worked on such things as Philco radio cabinets and a Graham Page car. He was deeply interested in the future, illustrating a book in 1932 that described, among other things, a huge passenger airplane with public lounges and an exercise center. Bel Geddes also desgined the GM pavilion at the 1939 World's Fair.*CHM

1949 N. J. Woodland and Bernard Silver filed a patent application for "Classifying Apparatus and Method", in which they described both the linear and bullseye printing patterns, as well as the mechanical and electronic systems needed to read the code. The patent was issued on 7 October 1952 as US Patent 2,612,994. In 1951, Woodland moved to IBM and continually tried to interest IBM in developing the system. The company eventually commissioned a report on the idea, which concluded that it was both feasible and interesting, but that processing the resulting information would require equipment that was some time off in the future.
In 1952 Philco purchased their patent, and then sold it to RCA the same year.*Wik

In 1951, at 1:50 p.m., the first electricity ever generated by atomic power began flowing from the EBR-1 turbine generator when Walter Zinn and his Argonne National Laboratory staff of scientists brought EBR-1 to criticality (a controlled, self-sustaining chain reaction) with a core about the size of a football. The reactor was started up and the power gradually increased over several hours. The next day, Experimental Breeder Reactor-1 generated enough electricity to supply all the power for its own building. Additional power and core experiments were then conducted until its decommissioning in Dec 1963. Construction began in 1949, between Idaho Falls and Arco, Idaho. Today, EBR-1 is a Registered National Historic Landmark.*TIS

1494 Oronce Fine (20 Dec 1494 in Briançon, France
- 8 Aug 1555 in Paris, France) was a French mathematician who published a major work on mathematics and astronomy. Before being awarded his medical degree, Fine had edited mathematics and astronomy books for a Paris printer. Among the texts which he edited were Peurbach's Theoricae Novae Planetarum, which presented Ptolemy's epicycle theory of the planets, and Sacrobosco's Tractatus de Sphaera, a book on astronomy in four chapters. The first book which Fine authored himself was published in 1526 and it was on the equatorium, an instrument which Fine was very interested in and which he worked on throughout his life, writing four further texts about it. The instrument can be used to determine the positions of the planets.*SAU

1648 Thommaso Ceva (20 Dec 1648; 3 Feb 1737) Italian mathematician, poet, and brother of the mathematician Giovanni Ceva. At the age of fifteen he entered the Society of Jesus. His education was entirely within the Jesuit Order and he obtained a degree in theology. His first scientific work, De natura gravium (1669), dealt with physical subjects, such as gravity and free fall, in a philosophical way. Tommaso Ceva's mathematical work is summed up in Opuscula Mathematica (1699) which examines geometry (geometric-harmonic means, the cycloid, and conic sections), gravity and arithmetic. He also designed an instrument to divide a right angle into a given number of equal parts. He gave the greater part of his time to writing Latin prose. His poem Jesus Puer was translated into many languages. *TIS

1838 Edwin Abbott Abbott (20 Dec 1838, 12 Oct 1926) His most famous work was Flatland: a romance of many dimensions (1884) which Abbott wrote under the pseudonym of A Square. The book has seen many editions, the sixth edition of 1953 being reprinted by Princeton University Press in 1991 with an introduction by Thomas Banchoff​. Flatland is an account of the adventures of A Square in Lineland and Spaceland. In it Abbott tries to popularise the notion of multidimensional geometry but the book is also a clever satire on the social, moral, and religious values of the period.
More recently, in 2002, an annotated version of Flatland has been produced with an introduction and notes by Ian Stewart who gives extensive discussion of mathematical topics related to passages in Abbott's text. *SAU The Kindle edition of Flatland is available for less than $2.00 Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions [Illustrated] and the Stewart version is only a little more:

In a bold statement of personal opinion I add: This book should be read by every teacher and every student of mathematics.

1843 Paul Tannery (20 Dec 1843 in Mantes-la-Jolie, Yvelines, France - 27 Nov 1904 in Pantin, Seine-St Denis, France) His main contributions were to the history of Greek mathematics and to the philosophy of mathematics. He published a history of Greek science in 1887, a history of Greek geometry in the same year, and a history of ancient astronomy in 1893.
Tannery did work of great importance as an editor of famous mathematics texts. He edited the work of Fermat in three volumes (jointly with C Henry) between 1891 and 1896. In addition he edited the work of Diophantus in two volumes (1893-95). He was an editor of the twelve volume complete works of Descartes Oeuvres de Descartes (1897-1913).
Tannery became so skilled in using Greek numerals in his historical work that he believed that they had certain advantages over our present system. *SAU

1875 Francesco Cantelli (20 Dec 1875 in Palermo, Sicily, Italy
- 21 July 1966 in Rome, Italy)Cantelli's work in astronomy involved statistical analysis of data and his interests turned more towards the statistical style of mathematics and to applications of probability to astronomy and other areas. In particular he became interested in actuarial and social applications of probability theory. In 1903 took a job as an actuary at the Istituti di Previdenza where he undertook research into probability theory publishing some important papers, some which we mention below. He founded the Istituto Italiano degli Attuari for the applications of mathematics and probability to economics. He edited the journal of the Institute Giornale dell'Istituto Italiano degli Attuari from 1930 to 1958 during which time it became one of the leading journals in its field. *SAU

1876 Walter (Sydney) Adams (20 Dec 1876; 11 May 1956) was an American astronomer who is best known for his spectroscopic studies of sunspots, the rotation of the Sun, the velocities and distances of thousands of stars, and planetary atmospheres. He found (with Arnold Kohlschütter) that the relative intensities of stallar spectral lines depend on the absolute luminosities of the star, which in turn provides a spectroscopic method of determining stellar distances.By this method, he measured distances to hundreds of giant and main sequence stars. Adams identified Sirius B as the first white dwarf star known, and his measurement of its gravitational redshift was confirming evidence for the general theory of relativity. He was director of Mount Wilson (1923-46).*TIS

1901 Robert Jemison Van de Graaff (20 Dec 1901; 16 Jan 1967) American physicist and inventor of the Van de Graaff generator, a type of high-voltage electrostatic generator that can be used as a particle accelerator in atomic research. The potential differences achieved in modern Van de Graaff generators can be up to 5 MV. It is a principle of electric fields that charges on a surface can leap off at points where the curvature is great, that is, where the radius is small. Thus, a dome of great radius will inhibit the electric discharge and added charge can reach a high voltage. This generator has been used in medical (such as high-energy X-ray production) and industrial applications (sterilization of food). In the 1950s, Van de Graaff invented the insulating core transformer able to produce high voltage direct current.*TIS

1836 Johann Christian Martin Bartels​ (12 August 1769 – 7/20 December 1836) was a German mathematician. He was the tutor of Carl Friedrich Gauss in Brunswick and the educator of Lobachevsky at the University of Kazan.*Wik

1891 George Bassett Clark (14 Feb 1827, 20 Dec 1891) Elder son in the American family of telescope makers and astronomers, Alvan Clark & Sons of Cambridge, Mass., who figured importantly in the great expansion of astronomical facilities which occurred during the second half of the 19th century. Before the family business began, George made a telescope in 1844 out of the melted-down brass of his school's broken dinner bell. His father, Alvan Clark, was at the time an established portrait painter, but his son's interest also spurred his father to begin making refractor telescopes. (Refractor telescopes use paired lenses to focus light.) The father taught himself to be a master optician, and eventually in business with his sons made the finest refractor telescopes of their time including five of the world's largest.*TIS

1962 Emil Artin (3 Mar 1898; 20 Dec 1962 at age 64) Austro-German mathematician who worked in algebraic number theory, made a major contribution to field theory, and stated a law of reciprocity which included all previously known laws of reciprocity (1927). He also worked on the theory of braids (1925), and on rings with the minimum condition on right ideals, now called Artinian rings (1944). Artin has the distinction of solving (1927) one of the famous 23 problems previously posed by Hilbert in 1900. With his Jewish wife, he left Nazi Germany in 1937, and worked at universities in the U.S. until 1956, when he returned to his home country. *TIS He solved Hilbert’s seventeenth problem in 1927. *VFR (Can a multivariate polynomial that only has non-negative values over the reals be represented as a sum of squares of rational functions? Artin proved it could, An algorithm to do so was found by Charles Delzell.)

1984 Max Deuring (9 December 1907, Göttingen, Germany – 20 December 1984, Göttingen, Germany) was a mathematician. He is known for his work in arithmetic geometry, in particular on elliptic curves in characteristic p. He worked also in analytic number theory.
Deuring graduated from the University of Göttingen in 1930, then began working with Emmy Noether, who noted his mathematical acumen even as an undergraduate. When she was forced to leave Germany in 1933, she urged that the university offer her position to Deuring. In 1935 he published a report entitled Algebren ("Algebras"), which established his notability in the world of mathematics. He went on to serve as Ordinarius at Marburg and Hamburg, then took a position as ordentlicher Lehrstuhl at Göttingen, where he remained until his retirement.*Wik

1988 Elizabeth Scott (November 23, 1917 – December 20, 1988) was an American mathematician specializing in statistics.
Scott was born in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Her family moved to Berkeley, California when she was 4 years old. She attended the University of California, Berkeley where she studied mathematics and astronomy. There were few options for further study in astronomy, as the field was largely closed to women at the time, so she completed her graduate studies in mathematics. She received her Ph.D. in 1949, and received a permanent position in the Department of Mathematics at Berkeley in 1951.
She wrote over 30 papers on astronomy and 30 on weather modification research analysis, incorporating and expanding the use of statistical analyses in these fields. She also used statistics to promote equal opportunities and equal pay for female academics.
In 1957 Elizabeth Scott noted a bias in the observation of galaxy clusters. She noticed that for an observer to find a very distant cluster, it must contain brighter than normal galaxies and must also contain a large number of galaxies. She proposed a correction formula to adjust for (what came to be known as) the "Scott effect".
The Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies awards a prize in her honour to female statisticians.*Wik

1993 W(illiam) Edwards Deming (14 Oct 1900, 20 Dec 1993) was an American statistician, the father of "Total Quality Management." After WW II, he contributed to Japan's economic recovery by recommending statistical methods of quality control in industrial production. His method embraced carefully tallying product defects, examining their causes, correcting the problems, and then tracking the results of these changes on subsequent product quality. In his career before the war, he had developed statistical sampling techniques that were first used in the 1940 U.S. census. From the 1980's in the U.S. Deming continued to teach quality control through the statistical control of manufacturing processes for companies such as Ford, Xerox, and GM.*TIS

1996 Carl Edward Sagan 9 Nov 1934, 20 Dec 1996) U.S. astronomer and exobiologist and writer of popular science books. His studies were far-ranging. He coauthored a scientific paper about the dangers of nuclear winter. He researched the atmosphere of Venus, seasonal changes on Mars, surface conditions on planets, and created popular interest in the universe with his television series Cosmos. Sagan was a leading figure in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. He urged the scientific community to listen with large radio telescopes for signals from intelligent extraterrestrial lifeforms. Sagan also played a prominent role in the U.S. space program, with his involvement in the Mariner, Viking, and Voyager spacecraft expeditions. *TIS  (and may I remind you all, in Carl's honor, that "we are all star-stuff."

2002 Grote Reber (22 Dec 1911, 20 Dec 2002) U.S. amateur astronomer and radio engineer who self-financed and built the first radio telescope. He pioneered the new field of radio astronomy, and was the first to systematically study the sky by observing non-visible radiation. After reading about Jansky's discovery (1932) of natural radio emissions from space, Reber constructed a 9-meter dish antenna in his back yard and built three different detectors before finding 160 MHz signals (1939). In 1940 and 1944 he published articles titled Cosmic Static in the Astrophysical Journal. He was the first to express received radio signals in terms of flux density and brightness, first to find evidence that galactic radiation is non-thermal, and first to produce radio maps of the sky (1941).*TIS

2005 1923 Raoul Bott,(September 24, 1923 – December 20, 2005) was a Hungarian mathematician known for numerous basic contributions to geometry in its broad sense. He is best known for his Bott periodicity theorem, the Morse–Bott functions which he used in this context, and the Borel–Bott–Weil theorem. *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

Friday, 19 December 2014

On This Day in Math - December 19

If equations are trains threading the landscape of numbers,
then no train stops at pi.
~Richard Preston

The 353rd day of the year; 353 is the last day of the year that is a palindromic prime. It is the first multi-digit palindromic prime with all prime digits. Also, it is the smallest number whose 4th power is equal to the sum of four other 4th powers, as discovered by R. Norrie in 1911: 3534 = 304 + 1204 + 2724 + 3154. *Wik

On 19th December 1705 the demonstrator of experiments at the Royal Society turned the crank on the apparatus, that he had constructed especially for this demonstration, setting an evacuated glass globe in rotation against which he pressed a woollen cloth. There was “quickly produced a beautiful Phaenomenon, viz, a fine purple light and vivid to that degree, that all the included Apparatus was easily and distinctly discernable by the help of it.” *Renaissance Mathematicus

1765 Joseph Priestley, visiting in London, is introduced to Benjamin Franklin, and other members of the "Honest Whigs" by John Canton in a popular coffee house in the shadow of St Pauls cathedral. Priestly had presented himself to Canton with a letter of introduction from Priestley's friend and rector at Warrington Academy that read, "You will find a benevolent, sensible man, with a considerable sense of learning. If Dr. Franklin be in Town,I believe Dr. Priestley would be glad to be made known of him." Before the night was over, Priestly had acquired their support for a book about their mutual efforts in the discovery of electricity. In 1767, the 700-page The History and Present State of Electricity was published to positive reviews. The first half of the text is a history of the study of electricity to 1766; the second and more influential half is a description of contemporary theories about electricity and suggestions for future research. Priestley reported some of his own discoveries in the second section. *Stephen Johnson, The Invention of Air

1894 Karl Peaerson introduced the Pearson family of densities. [Springer’s 1985 Statistics Calendar] *VFR

1908 Scientific American offered a $500 prize for a simple explanation of the fourth dimension. They were surprised to receive a huge number of serious responses from around the globe. Many mentioned Charles Hinton, who was popularizing the idea of four-space (he invented the term tesseract, and the baseball pitching machine) but not one associated the fourth dimension with time, and none mentioned Einstein or his work.
* By Michio Kaku , Hyperspace: a scientific odyssey through parallel universes, time warps, and ... pg 75

In 1958, the first known radio broadcast from outer space was transmitted. President Eisenhower's voice issued a Christmas greeting from a pre-recorded tape on a recorder aboard an orbiting space satellite. His full message was, "This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space. My message is a simple one. Through this unique means I convey to you and all mankind America's wish for peace on earth and good will to men everywhere." The broadcast came from the first experimental satellite, Project SCORE, which had been launched two days earlier. The battery-operated 132 MHz all vacuum tubes transmitter had an 8-W output.*TIS

In 1974, the pioneering Altair 8800 microcomputer was first put on sale in the U.S. as a do-it-yourself computer kit, for $\$397$. It used switches for input and flashing lights as a display. Ed Roberts founded Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) to market his product that used the 8800 microprocessor. The demand for the $ \$395.00$ machine exceeded the manufacturer's wildest expectations. The Altair 8800 was featured on the cover of the Jan 1975 issue of Popular Electronics. The first commercially successful personal computer, the Commodore PET, which integrated a keyboard and monitor in its case, came out in early 1977. The Apple II followed later that year. *TIS

1615 Sir Charles Scarborough MP FRS FRCP (19 December 1615 – 26 February 1693) was an English physician and mathematician.
He was born in St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, London in 1615, the son of Edmund Scarburgh, and was sent to St. Paul's School, whence he proceeded to Caius College, Cambridge, and educated at St Paul's School, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (BA, 1637, MA, 1640) and Merton College, Oxford (MD, 1646). While at Oxford he was a student of William Harvey, and the two would become close friends. Scarborough was also tutor to Christopher Wren, who was for a time his assistant.
Following the Restoration in 1660, Scarborough was appointed physician to Charles II, who knighted him in 1669; Scarborough attended the king on his deathbed, and was later physician to James II and William and Mary. During the reign of James II, Scarborough served (from 1685 to 1687) as Member of Parliament for Camelford in Cornwall.
Scarborough was an original fellow of the Royal Society and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, author of a treatise on anatomy, Syllabus Musculorum, which was used for many years as a textbook, and a translator and commentator of the first six books of Euclid's Elements (published in 1705). He also was the subject of a poem by Abraham Cowley, An Ode to Dr Scarborough.
Scarborough died in London in 1693. He was buried at Cranford, Middlesex, where there is a monument to him in the parish church erected by his widow. *Wik
1714 John Winthrop (December 19, 1714 – May 3, 1779) was the 2nd Hollis Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in Harvard College. He was a distinguished mathematician, physicist and astronomer, born in Boston, Mass. His great-great-grandfather, also named John Winthrop, was founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He graduated in 1732 from Harvard, where, from 1738 until his death he served as professor of mathematics and natural philosophy. Professor Winthrop was one of the foremost men of science in America during the 18th century, and his impact on its early advance in New England was particularly significant. Both Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Thompson (Count Rumford) probably owed much of their early interest in scientific research to his influence. He also had a decisive influence in the early philosophical education of John Adams, during the latter's time at Harvard. He corresponded regularly with the Royal Society in London—as such, one of the first American intellectuals of his time to be taken seriously in Europe. He was noted for attempting to explain the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755 as a scientific—rather than religious—phenomenon, and his application of mathematical computations to earthquake activity following the great quake has formed the basis of the claim made on his behalf as the founder of the science of seismology. Additionally, he observed the transits of Mercury in 1740 and 1761 and journeyed to Newfoundland to observe a transit of Venus. He traveled in a ship provided by the Province of Massachusetts - probably the first scientific expedition ever sent out by any incipient American state. *Wik

1783 Birthdate of Charles-Julien Brianchon who, in 1820 published the nine-point circle theorem. Although this theorem has been independently discovered many times he gave the first complete proof and coined the phrase “nine-point circle”. *VFR He also published a geometrical theorem (named as Brianchon's theorem) while a student (1806). He showed that in any hexagon formed of six tangents to a conic, the three diagonals meet at a point. In fact, this theorem is simply the dual of Pascal's theorem which was proved in 1639. After graduation, Brianchon became a lieutenant in artillery fighting in Napoleon's army until he left active service in 1813 due to ill health.*TIS

1813 Thomas Andrews (19 Dec 1813; 26 Nov 1885) Irish chemist and physicist, who demonstrated the continuity of the gaseous and liquid states whereby during changes between the two states, physical properties display no abrupt changes. He discovered the critical temperature for carbon dioxide (1861), above which the gas cannot be liquefied by pressure alone. He wrote: We may yet live to see...such bodies as oxygen and hydrogen in the liquid, perhaps even in the solid state. He accurately measured heats of neutralisation, formation and reaction; and latent heats of evaporation. Andrews was the first to use a "bomb calorimeter" - a strong, sealed, metal vessel for measuring heat of combustion. He studied ozone, and proved that is an allotrope - or altered form - of oxygen.*TIS

1852 Albert Abraham Michelson (19 Dec 1852; 9 May 1931) was a German-born American physicist who accurately measured the speed of light and received the 1907 Nobel Prize for Physics "for his optical precision instruments and the spectroscopic and metrological investigations" he carried out with them. He designed the highly accurate Michelson interferometer and used it to establish the speed of light as a fundamental constant. With Edward Morley, he also used it in an attempt to measure the velocity of the earth through the ether (1887). The experiment yielded null results that eventually led Einstein to his theory of relativity. He measured the standard meter bar in Paris to be 1,553,163.5 wavelengths of the red cadmium line (1892-3).*TIS

1854 Marcel Brillouin worked on topics ranging from history of science to the physics of the earth and the atom.*SAU

1908 Anne Anastasi (19 Dec 1908; 4 May 2001) American psychologist, known as the "test guru," for her pioneering development of psychometrics, the measurement and understanding of psychological traits. Her seminal work, Psychological Testing (1954), remains a classic text in the subject. In it, she drew attention to the ways in which trait development is influenced by education and heredity. She explored how variables in the measurement of those traits include differences in training, culture, and language. In 1972, she became the first woman to be elected president of the American Psychological Association in half a century. For her accomplishments, she was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1987*TIS

1887 Charles G Darwin was the grandson of the famous biologist and graduated from Cambridge. He lectured on Physics at Manchester and after service in World War I and a period back at Cambridge he became Professor of Physics at Edinburgh. He left eventually to become head of a Cambridge college. He worked in Quantum Mechanics and had controversial views on Eugenics. *SAU

1910 Helmut Wielandt worked on finite groups and on finite and infinite permutation groups.*SAU

1918 Leon Mirsky worked in Number Theory, Linear Algebra and Combinatorics.*SAU

1921 APL Co-Inventor Adin D. Falkoff is born in New Jersey. He received a BChE in chemical engineering from the City College of New York in 1941 and MA in mathematics from Yale in 1963. He has worked for IBM since 1955. With Kenneth E. Iverson, Falkoff developed A Programming Language​ (APL). Iverson credited him for choosing the name APL and the introduction of the IBM golf-ball typewriter with the replacement typehead, which provided the famous character set to represent programs. Falkoff received IBM’s Outstanding Contribution Award for development APL and APL/360, and ACM’s Award for outstanding contribution to the development and application of APL. *CHM

1932 Crispin St. John Alvah Nash-Williams (December 19, 1932 – January 20, 2001) was a British and Canadian mathematician. His research interest was in the field of discrete mathematics, especially graph theory.
Hilton writes that "Themes running through his papers are Hamiltonian cycles, Eulerian graphs, spanning trees, the marriage problem, detachments, reconstruction, and infinite graphs." In his first papers Nash-William considered the knight's tour and random walk problems on infinite graphs; the latter paper included an important recurrence criterion for general Markov chains, and was also the first to apply electrical network techniques of Rayleigh to random walks. His graduate thesis, which he finished in 1958, concerned generalizations of Euler tours to infinite graphs. Welsh writes that his subsequent work defining and characterizing the arboricity of graphs (discovered in parallel and independently by W. T. Tutte) has "had a huge impact," in part because of its implications in matroid theory. Nash-Williams also studied k-edge-connected graphs, Hamiltonian cycles in dense graphs, versions of the reconstruction conjecture for infinite graphs, and the theory of quasi-orders. He also gave a short elegant proof on Kruskal's tree theorem.*Wik

1937 Barry Charles Mazur (born December 19, 1937) is a professor of mathematics at Harvard.
Born in New York City, Mazur attended the Bronx High School of Science and MIT, although he did not graduate from the latter on account of failing a then-present ROTC requirement. Regardless, he was accepted for graduate school and received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1959, becoming a Junior Fellow at Harvard from 1961 to 1964. He is currently the Gerhard Gade University Professor and a Senior Fellow at Harvard. In 1982 he was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Mazur has received the Veblen Prize in geometry, the Cole Prize in number theory, the Chauvenet Prize for exposition, and the Steele Prize for seminal contribution to research from the American Mathematical Society.*Wik He is the author of the popular math book, Imaginary Numbers

1943 Victor G. Kac (born 19 December 1943 in Buguruslan, Russia, USSR) is a Soviet and American mathematician at MIT, known for his work in representation theory. He discovered Kac–Moody algebras, and used the Weyl–Kac character formula for them to reprove the Macdonald identities. He classified the finite-dimensional simple Lie superalgebras, and found the Kac determinant formula for the Virasoro algebra. Kac studied mathematics at Moscow State University, receiving his M.S. in 1965 and his Ph.D. in 1968. From 1968 to 1976, he held a teaching position at the Moscow Institute of Electronic Engineering. He left the Soviet Union in 1977, becoming an associate professor of mathematics at MIT. In 1981, he was promoted to full professor. Kac received a Sloan Fellowship in 1981 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1986 and the medal of the College de France (1981). He received the Wigner Medal(1994)"in recognition of work on affine Lie algebras that has had wide influence in theoretical physics". In 1978 he was an Invited Speaker (Highest weight representations of infinite dimensional Lie algebras) at the ICM in Helsinki, In 1988 a plenary speaker at the AMS centennial conference. In 2002 he gave a plenary lecture (Classification of Supersymmetries) at the ICM in Beijing. He is a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society., a Honorary member of the Moscow Mathematical Society, Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Member of the National Academy of Sciences. The research of Victor Kac primarily concerns representation theory and mathematical physics. His work has been very influential in mathematics and physics and instrumental in the development of quantum field theory, string theory and the theory of integrable systems. Kac published 5 books and over 200 articles in mathematics and physics journals.
His brother Boris Katz is a principal research scientist at MIT. *Wik
1944 Mitchell Jay Feigenbaum (born December 19, 1944) is a mathematical physicist whose pioneering studies in chaos theory led to the discovery of the Feigenbaum constants.*Wik


1887 Balfour Stewart (1 Nov 1828, 19 Dec 1887) Scottish meteorologist and geophysicist who studied terrestrial magnetism and radiant heat. His researches on radiant heat contributed to foundation of spectrum analysis. He was the first to discover that bodies radiate and absorb energy of the same wavelength. In meteorology, he pioneered in ionospheric science, making a special study of terrestrial magnetism. He proposed (1882) that the daily variation in the Earth's magnetic field could be due to air currents in the upper atmosphere, which act as conductors and generate electrical currents as they pass through the Earth's magnetic field. He also investigated sunspots. In 1887, he suffered a stroke while crossing to spend Christmas at his estate in Ireland and died soon after at the age of 59.*TIS

1939 Dmitry Aleksandrovich Grave (September 6, 1863 – December 19, 1939) was a Russian and Soviet mathematician. Naum Akhiezer, Nikolai Chebotaryov, Mikhail Kravchuk, and Boris Delaunay were among his students.
Dmitry Grave was educated at the University of St Petersburg where he studied under Chebyshev and his pupils Korkin, Zolotarev and Markov. Grave began research while a student, graduating with his doctorate in 1896. He had obtained his masters degree in 1889 and, in that year, began teaching at the University of St Petersburg.
For his Master's Degree Grave studied Jacobi's methods for the three body problem, a topic suggested by Korkin. His doctorate was on map projections, again a topic proposed by Korkin, the degree being awarded in 1896. The work, on equal area plane projections of the sphere, built on ideas of Euler, Joseph Louis Lagrange and Chebyshev.
Grave became professor at Kharkov in 1897 and, from 1902, he was appointed professor at the University of Kiev, where he remained for the rest of his life. Grave is considered as the founder of the Kiev school of algebra which was to become the centre for algebra in the USSR.
At Kiev Grave studied algebra and number theory. In particular he worked on Galois theory, ideals and equations of the fifth degree. Among his pupils were O J Schmidt, N G Chebotaryov, B N Delone and A M Ostrowski. *WIK

1946 Paul Langevin (23 Jan 1872, 19 Dec 1946) French physicist who was the first scientist to explain the effects of paramagnetism and diamagnetism (the weak attraction or repulsion of substances in a magnetic field), in 1905, using statistical mechanics. He further theorized how the effects could be explained by how electron charges behaved within the atom. He popularized Einstein's theories for the French public. During WW I, he began developing a source for high intensity ultrasonic waves, which made sonar detection of submarines possible. He created the ultrasound from piezoelectric crystals vibrated by high-frequency radio circuits. In WW II, he spoke out against the Nazis, for which he was arrested and imprisoned, though he managed to escaped and fled to Switzerland.*TIS

1952 Otto Szász (11 December 1884, Hungary – 19 December 1952, Cincinnati, Ohio) was a Hungarian mathematician who worked on real analysis, in particular on Fourier series. He proved the Müntz–Szász theorem and introduced the Szász–Mirakyan operator. The Hungarian Mathematical and Physical Society awarded him the Julius König prize in 1939.*Wik

1953 Robert Andrews Millikan (22 Mar 1868, 19 Dec 1953) American physicist who was awarded the 1923 Nobel Prize for Physics for "his work on the elementary charge of electricity and on the photoelectric effect." Millikan's famous oil-drop experiment (1911) was far superior to previous determinations of the charge of an electron, and further showed that the electron was a fundamental, discrete particle. When its value was substituted in Niels Bohr's theoretical formula for the hydrogen spectrum, that theory was validated by the experimental results. Thus Millikan's work also convincingly provided the first proof of Bohr's quantum theory of the atom. In later work, Millikan coined the term "cosmic rays" in 1925 during his study of the radiation from outer space.*TIS

1983 Kate Sperling Fenchel (December 21, 1905 - December 19, 1983) Born in Berlin, Germany. Studied mathematics, philosophy, and physics at the University of Berlin from 1924 to 1928. She was encouraged to write a thesis, but she could not afford to continue her studies and research jobs for women appeared to be difficult to obtain. Thus she never received a Ph.D. in mathematics. From 1931 to 1933 she taught mathematics at the high school level, but was fired when the Nazis came to power in Germany because she was Jewish. She emigrated to Denmark with Werner Fenchel, a former fellow student, and the two married in December, 1933. Fenchel worked from 1933 to 1943 for a Danish mathematics professor. In 1943 she had to escape to Sweden with her husband and 3-year old son while Germany occupied Denmark. They returned to Denmark after the end of the war. Fenchel held a part-time lecturer's job at Aarhus University, Denmark, from 1965-1970.
Fenchel did research in finite nonabelian groups and published several papers, the last at the age of 73. *ASC

1997 David N. Schramm (25 Oct 1945, 19 Dec 1997) American theoretical astrophysicist who was an authority on the particle-physics aspects of the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe. He considered the nuclear physics involved in the synthesis of the light elements created during the Big Bang comprising mainly hydrogen, with lesser quantities of deuterium, helium, lithium, beryllium and boron. He predicted, from cosmological considerations, that a third family of neutrinos existed - which was later proven in particle accelerator experiments (1989). Schramm worked to evaluate undetected dark matter that contributed to the mass of the universe, and which would determine whether the universe would ultimately continue to expand. He died in the crash of a small airplane he was piloting.*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