Saturday, 11 June 2011

On This Day in Math - Jun 12



My work always tried to unite the true
with the beautiful, but when I had to choose... 
I usually chose the beautiful.
~ Hermann Weyl


EVENTS

1676   a partial solar eclipse which was to be viewed as something of an opening ceremony for the Royal Observatory in Greenwich: it was hoped that the King would attend but he did not, Lord Brouncker, President of the Royal Society, being the guest of honour instead. *Rebekah Higgitt, Telescopos


1689 Although they had corresponded, through Oldenburg, about optics sixteen years earlier (much to Newton’s grief), Newton first met Christiaan Huygens at a Royal Society meeting in London.
[Newton, Mathematical Papers, 6, xxiii] *VFR



In 1837, British inventors William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone received a patent for their electromagnetic telegraph. Their invention was put in public service in 1839, five years before the more famous Morse telegraph.*TIS Wheatstone's telegraph was a five wire/five needle telegraph that had a receiver that pointed out the message letter by letter without a code such as Morse used for his one and two wire models. (Wheatstone was very capable of creating codes as well. He was the creator of the Playfair cipher; an ingenious system which prevented frequency analysis by substituting two letters at a time.)




In 1897, the Swiss Army Knife was patented by Carl Elsener *TIS




In 1908, the Rotherhithe-Stepney tunnel beneath the Thames in South London was opened for road vehicle traffic. It was built by Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice between 1904 and 1908. With a length of 4860 feet (1481 metres) excluding the approaches, it remains the largest iron-lined subaqueous tunnel in the world. It was constructed partly by tunnelling and partly by the cut and cover method. The area around the entrances was cleared resulting in 3,000 people being rehoused. It is located close to the Rotherhithe-Wapping Thames Tunnel built (1825-43) by Marc Brunel and his son, Isambad K. Brunel which was the world's first tunnel beneath a navigable river.*TIS


1973 Germany issued a postage stamp picturing a model of the calculator built by Wilhelm Schickard of the University of Tubingen 350 years before. [Scott #1123].




1979 Bryan Allen, age 26, of the U.S. pedaled the Gossamer Albatross on the first human powered flight across the English channel. This 21 mile flight won him a £100,000 prize offered by British industrialist Henry Kremer. Two years earlier Allen was the first to fly an aircraft around a one-mile figure eight course under human power alone. See “Human-powered flight,” Scientific American, November 1985, p. 144. *VFR




BIRTHS
1577 Paul Guldin born (original name Habakkuk Guldin) (June 12, 1577 – November 3, 1643) was a Swiss Jesuit mathematician and astronomer. He discovered the Guldinus theorem to determine the surface and the volume of a solid of revolution. This theorem is also known as Pappus–Guldinus theorem and Pappus's centroid theorem, attributed to Pappus of Alexandria. ( simply stated: that the volume = area times distance traveled by the centroid, and surface = arclength times distance travelled by centroid.) He was noted for his association with the German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler. He was born in Mels, Switzerland and was a professor of mathematics in Graz and Vienna.
In Paolo Casati's astronomical work Terra machinis mota (1658), Casati imagines a dialogue between Guldin, Galileo, and Marin Mersenne on various intellectual problems of cosmology, geography, astronomy and geodesy. *Wik

1806 John A. Roebling, civil engineer and designer of bridges, was born in Mühlhausen, Prussia. The Brooklyn Bridge, Roebling's last and greatest achievement, spans New York's East River to connect Manhattan with Brooklyn. When completed in 1883, the bridge, with its massive stone towers and a main span of 1,595.5 feet between them, was by far the longest suspension bridge in the world. Today, the Brooklyn Bridge is hailed as a key feature of New York's City's urban landscape, standing as a monument to progress and ingenuity as well as symbolizing New York's ongoing cultural vitality. *Library of Congress




1843 Sir David Gill Scottish astronomer known for his measurements of solar and stellar parallax, showing the distances of the Sun and other stars from Earth, and for his early use of photography in mapping the heavens. From his first training as a watchmaker, he progressed to the timekeeping requirements of astronomy. He designed, equipped, and operated a private observatory near Aberdeen. In 1877, Gill and his wife measured the solar parallax by observing Mars from Ascension Island. To determine parallaxes, he perfected the use of the heliometer, a telescope that uses a split image to measure the angular separation of celestial bodies. He later redetermined the solar parallax to such precision that his value was used for almanacs until 1968. *TIS




1855 Eduard Wiltheiss was a German mathematician who made major contributions to the theory of abelian functions *SAU




1888 Zygmunt Janiszewski, the father of Polish mathematics, born. At the end of World War I, Janiszewski was the driving force behind the creation of one of the strongest schools of mathematics in the world. This is all the more remarkable, given Poland's difficult situaltion at war's end.
Janiszewski devoted the family property that he had inherited from his father to charity and education. He also donated all the prize money that he received from mathematical awards and competitions to the education and development of young Polish students.
In mathematics, his main interest was topology.
He was the driving force, together with Wacław Sierpiński and Stefan Mazurkiewicz, behind the founding of the mathematics journal Fundamenta Mathematicae. Janiszewski proposed the name of the journal in 1919, though the first issue was published in 1920, after his death. It was his intent that the first issue comprise solely contributions by Polish mathematicians. It was Janiszewski's vision that Poland become a world leader in the field of mathematics—which she did in the interbellum.
His life was cut short by the influenza pandemic of 1918-19, which took his life at Lwów on 3 January 1920 at the age of 31. He willed his body for medical research, and his cranium for craniological study, desiring to be "useful after his death". *Wik




1937 Vladimir Arnold won a Wolf prize for his work on dynamical systems, differential equations, and singularity theory.*SAU He died nine days before his birthdate in 2010.




DEATHS
1835 Edward Troughton. English scientist and instrument maker. Troughton established himself as the leading maker of instruments in England. He began his instrument making career with instruments to aid navigation, for example, he designed the 'pillar' sextant, patented in 1788, the dip sector, the marine barometer and the reflecting circle built in 1796. Other instruments which he designed were for use in surveying. He designed the pyrometer, the mountain barometer and the large surveying theodolites. His famous instruments were astronomical ones. He made the Groombridge Transit Circle in 1805 and a six foot Mural Transit Circle in 1810 which was erected at the Observatory in Greenwich in 1812. *TIS

1885 (Henry Charles) Fleeming Jenkin (25 Mar 1833; 12 Jun 1885 at age 52) British engineer noted for his work in establishing units of electrical measurement. After earning an M.A. (1851), he worked for the next 10 years with engineering firms engaged in the design and manufacture of submarine telegraph cables and equipment for laying them. In 1861 his friend William Thomson (later Lord Kelvin) procured Jenkin's appointment as reporter for the Committee of Electrical Standards of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. He helped compile and publish reports that established the ohm as the absolute unit of electrical resistance and described methods for precise resistance measurements. *TIS


1900 Jean Frenet was a French mathematician best remembered for the Serret-Frenet formulas for a space-curve *SAU

1980 Egon Sharpe Pearson, (Hampstead, 11 August 1895 – Midhurst, 12 June 1980) was the only son of Karl Pearson, and like his father, a leading British statistician.
He went to Winchester School and Trinity College, Cambridge, and succeeded his father as professor of statistics at University College London and as editor of the journal Biometrika.
Pearson is best known for development of the Neyman-Pearson lemma of statistical hypothesis testing.
He was President of the Royal Statistical Society in 1955–56, and was awarded its Guy Medal in Gold in 1955. He was awarded a CBE in 1946.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in Mar 1966. His candidacy citation read: "Known throughout the world as co-author of the Neyman-Pearson theory of testing statistical hypotheses, and responsible for many important contributions to problems of statistical inference and methodology, especially in the development and use of the likelihood ratio criterion. Has played a leading role in furthering the applications of statistical methods - for example, in industry, and also during and since the war, in the assessment and testing of weapons." *Wik


Credits:
*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*TIS= Today in Science History
*Wik = Wikipedia
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History
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