Sunday, 26 June 2011

On This Day in Math - June 26

When you measure what you are speaking about and express it in numbers,
you know something about it,
but when you cannot express it in numbers
your knowledge about is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.
William Thompson, Lord Kelvin

1614   The first lottery of significance in the new world was held on this date by the Virginia Company.  The first Great Prize was 4,500 Crowns. *JN Kane, Famous First Facts (I have seen the date of this lottery also given as 1612)

In 1819, The first US patent for a velocipede, a predecessor of the bicycle, was issued to William K. Clarkson Jr. of New York. Little information remains available, however, because a fire at the Patent Office in 1836 destroyed the patent record, and it was not restored. The photo shows the Draisine design of the period (Europe, 1816). Bicycles were introduced to the US also in 1819 and were manufactured by David and Rogers in Troy, NY*TIS

In 1974, at 8:01 a.m., a package of Wrigley's chewing gum with a bar code printed on it passed over a scanner at the Marsh Supermarket, Troy, Ohio, and became the first product ever logged under the new Universal Product Code (UPC) computerized recognition system. Invented by IBM, and approved for use in 1973, the UPC is a 12-number bar code representing the manufacturer's identity and an assigned product number. Within nanoseconds, this information is read with a laser beam moving at around 10,000 inches per second and transfers it to the store's database computer for price lookup and inventory management*TIS

In 1984, the National Maritime Museum, of which the Royal Observatory, Greenwich is a part, encouraged people up and down the Line to organise events in order to mark the so-called ‘centenary’ of the Prime Meridian. Although the International Meridian conference took place in October 1884, the Museum designated Tuesday 26 June as ‘Meridian Day’, on the grounds that any outdoor events would be less likely to be affected by the weather.
Commemorative six-inch diameter plastic plaques were offered to any individual who could show that the Meridian passed through the curtilage of their property. Potential claimants were required to write to their regional office of the Ordnance Survey to verify their claim and send this as proof of authenticity to the English Tourist Board who were distributing them. No records of how many were issued can be traced. The locations of just four are known, along with the existence of a fifth.
The National Maritime Museum also arranged for the Enfield Foundry to cast a bronze plaque as a more enduring alternative. At the time, it was stated that they would only be produced if 20 or more orders were received. How many were made is unknown, the Foundry’s records having been destroyed. Only three have been located to date.

In 2000, the completion of a working draft reference DNA sequence of the human genome was announced at the White House by President Bill Clinton, and representatives from the Human Genome Project (HGP) and the private company Celera Genomics. Clinton stated that even greater discoveries would follow from the working draft. As a draft, it contained some gaps and errors, but represented about 95% of all genes. HGP expected to use it as a scaffold for generating the high-quality reference genome sequence within three years. This provides knowledge to link genes with particular diseases, of the influence of genetics and to help discover new treatments.

1730 Charles Messier French astronomer who discovered 15 comets. He was the first to compile a systematic catalog of "M objects." The Messier Catalogue (1784), containing 103 star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. (In Messier's time a nebula was a term used to denote any blurry celestial light source.) He established alphanumeric names for the objects (M1, M2, etc.), which notation continues to be used in astronomy today.

1824 Lord Kelvin.. Born as William Thomson, he became an influential physicist, mathematician and engineer who has been described as a Newton of his era. At Glasgow University, Scotland, he was a professor for over half a century. The name he made for himself was more than just a temperature scale. His activities ranged from being the brains behind the laying of a transatlantic telephone cable, to attempting to calculate the age of the earth from its rate of cooling. In 1892, when raised to the peerage as Baron Kelvin of Largs, he had chosen the name from the Kelvin River, near Glasgow.*TIS

1878 Leopold Löwenheim was a German mathematician who worked on mathematical logic and is best-known for the Löwenheim-Skolem paradox.*SAU

1274 Nasir al-Tusi was an Islamic astronomer and mathematician who joined the Mongols who conquered Baghdad. He made important contributions to astronomy and wrote many commentaries on Greek texts.*SAU

1796 David Rittenhouse American astronomer, instrument maker and inventor who was an early observer of the atmosphere of Venus. For observations for the transit of Venus on 3 Jun 1769, he constructed a high precision pendulum clock, an astronomical quadrant, an equal altitude instrument, and an astronomical transit. He was the first one in America to put spider web as cross-hairs in the focus of his telescope. He is generally credited with inventing the vernier compass and possibly the automatic needle lifter. He was professor of astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin consulted him on various occasions. For Thomas Jefferson he standardized the foot by pendulum measurements in a project to establish a decimal system of weights and measures.*TIS

1810 Joseph Montgolfier French ballooning pioneer, with his younger brother, Étienne. An initial experiment with a balloon of taffeta filled with hot smoke was given a public demonstration on 5 Jun 1783. This was followed by a flight carrying three animals as passengers on 19 Sep1783, shown in Paris and witnessed by King Louis XVI. On 21 Nov 1783, their balloon carried the first two men on an untethered flight. In the span of one year after releasing their test balloon, the Montgolfier brothers had enabled the first manned balloon flight in the world. *TIS

1951 George Udny Yule graduated in Engineering from University College London and then studied in Bonn. He worked with Karl Pearson on the statistics of regression and correlation. He took a post with an examinations board before being appointed to a Cambridge fellowship. He is best known for his book: Introduction to the Theory of Statistics.*SAU

1967 H T H Piaggio graduated from Cambridge and then worked at the University of Nottingham. He is best known for his text-book on Differential Equations. *SAU

1990 Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider (March 11, 1915 – June 26, 1990), known simply as J.C.R. or "Lick" was an American computer scientist, considered one of the most important figures in computer science and general computing history. He is particularly remembered for being one of the first to forsee modern-style interactive computing, and its application to all manner of activities; and also as an Internet pioneer, with an early vision of a world-wide computer network long before it was built. He did much to actually initiate all that through his funding of research which led to a great deal of it, including today's canonical graphical user interface, and the ARPANET, the direct predecessor to the Internet.*Wik

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