Thursday, 11 February 2010

The meaning of February 11..

Feb 11th is the 42 day of the year, and everyone knows that 42 is the answer to the question, "What is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?"; at least according to Douglas Adams, Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe. And if you don't believe me, just ask WolframAlpha....

42 is interesting on its own without Mr. Adams. The binary expression is cute, 101010; and it is one of those Pythagorean 3D type numbers... its the sum of three squares, 12 + 42+52. It is also the fifth Catalan Number.

Today is the day on which Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, French Scientist and writer, was born in in 1657.. He is worthy of remembering for one classic line...When, in his late nineties he met the beautiful Mme Helvétius, he reportedly told her, "Ah Madame, if only I were eighty again!". He was born exactly seven years after Rene Descartes died.

William Henry Fox Talbot, who invented the photographic negative, was born on this day in 1800... and you may not remember him, but his home in the Cotswold's was the scene for Harry Potter's school in the movies.

This is also the birth date of Josiah Willard Gibbs in 1839. Gibbs was a mathematician/chemist/physicist who laid the foundation for thermodynamics and invented vector analysis. Yale made him the first American to earn a PhD in Engineering. . He devised much of the theoretical foundation for chemical thermodynamics as well as physical chemistry. As a mathematician, he invented vector analysis.

Today is also Inventor's Day in the USA.... but I am not making all this up.
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