Saturday, 13 March 2010

Irrational Birthday Celebrations

Dave Richeson from Dickenson College has a nice blog at his Division by Zero blog that is good news (of a sort) for anyone born in 1980 (if you live long enough).
"De Morgan was always interested in odd numerical facts and writing in 1864 he noted that he had the distinction of being {x} years old in the year {x^{2}} (He was 43 in 1849). Anyone born in 1980 can claim the same distinction."
If you live to your 45th birthday in that year, you too can say you are x years old in the year x^2.

Overcome by curiosity, he searched out and found the last few times this has happened
Here are a few other people who could have made De Morgan’s claim (listed by year of birth).

1892: J.R.R. Tolkein was 44 in 1936
1806: John Stuart Mill was 43 in 1849
1722: Samuel Adams was 42 in 1764
1640: Bernard Lamy, the mathematician, was 41 in 1681
1560: Annibale Carracci, Italian painter was 40 in 1600
1482: Maria of Aragon and Castile, queen of Portugal would have been 39 in the year 1521 (she died in 1517)
1122: Eleanor of Aquitaine was 34 in the year 1156

Dave's list of notables was a little "unimaginative" for a mathematician (sorry Dave) so I would alter his list to :
1892: Stefan Banach was 44 in 1936
1806: Isambard Kingdom Brunel was 43 in 1849 (and amazingly, the Brooklyn Bridge Engineer, John Roebling was also(good year for Engineers?)
1722: Samuel Adams was 42 in 1764 *(OK, I like Adams, and I could not find one mathematician on the St Andrews Math History site who was born in 1722... my closest choice for a math related person would be French astronomer Abbé Jean Chappe d'Auteroche.
1640: Bernard Lamy, the mathematician, was 41 in 1681*** wonderful, especially right before Pi Day...Nice one Dave.
1560: Thomas Harriot (Solving equations by factoring is Still called "Harriot's method by some (me)", 40 in 1600, and he turned a telescope to the stars before Gallileo.
1482: The first printed version of Euclids Elements, printed in Venice, was 39 in the year 1521
1122: Ok, by this time I have developed a new appreciation for the difficulty Dave had coming up with names...You would think some mathematician/scientist/engineer would have been 34 in the year 1156, but they are hard to come up with...

Ok, submit your list.. who would be the best "square" for each year. In exchange, I propose that we do not allow people who were integrally blessed to steal all the glory...If you were born anytime after 1936, you can share this property sometime during your 44th year. For instance, if the 302nd day of your 45th year (you would be 44.83302354.. years old) you qualify.. and if you are too young, next year on the day you turn 44.844... years old, you can join this illustrious group... alas, my time has passed, but I can say with DeMorgan, that I turned x years old in the year x, it just was an irrational x, but heck, it was an irrational year when it happened.
Post a Comment