Sunday, 24 July 2011

On This Day in Math - July 24

In mathematics the art of proposing a question 
must be held of higher value than solving it.
~Goerg Cantor

This is the 205th day of the year; There are 205 pairs of twin primes less than ten thousand
*Number Gossip

In 1673, Edmund Halley entered Queen's College, Oxford, as an undergraduate. Halley had attended the prestigious St. Paul's school, where in 1671, he was appointed captain, a position resembling today's student body president. He was an excellent student, and by the time he entered Queen's College, Oxford. At this young age, Halley already possessed, "... the basic facts and computations not only of navigation but also those which the practical astronomer is concerned when he sets about the delicate task of measuring the positions of celestial bodies in the sky," according to Colin Ronan in his book Edmond Halley: genius in eclipse *TIS

1860 Yale University authorized the granting of Doctor of Philosophy degrees. The first such degrees in the U.S. were awarded in 1861 by Yale to Eugene Schuyler, James Morris Whiton, and Arthur Williams Wright. [Kane, p. 215] *VFR

In 1911, American Hiram Bingham discovered the Lost City of the Incas, Vilcapampa (now called Machu Picchu), where the last Incan Emperors found refuge from the conquistadors.*TIS

In 1950, the first successful rocket launch from Cape Canaveral took place. "Bumper" No. 8 was a captured German V-2 rocket with the payload replaced by another rocket 700-pound Army-JPL Wac Corporal rocket on top. It was fired from Long-Range Proving Ground at Cape Canaveral. The first-stage V-2 climbed 10 miles, separated from the second-stage Corporal which traveled 15 more miles. (V-2 exploded). A previous attempt on 19 July 1950 of a similar launch was aborted on the pad. Image: A V2 just after launch (White Sands Missle Range, NM)*TIS

In 1991, a University of Manchester scientist announced the finding a planet outside of solar system. Andrew G. Lyne of the University of Manchester subsequently retracted his claim for a planet around pulsar PSR 1829-10 at the Jan 1992 meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Atlanta. He said that the modulation of radio waves coming from the pulsar was caused not by the presence of a planet but was in fact an artifact of the Earth's motion around the Sun. That possibility that had been considered but then discounted in earlier studies of the data.*TIS

1851 Friedrich Hermann Schottky. *VFR was a German mathematician who worked on elliptic, abelian, and theta functions and invented Schottky groups. He was born in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland) and died in Berlin.
He is also the father of Walter H. Schottky, the German physicist and inventor of a variety of semiconductor concepts.*Wik

1853 Henri-Alexandre Deslandres French astrophysicist who invented a spectroheliograph (1894) to photograph the Sun in monochromatic light (about a year after George E. Hale in the U.S.) and made extensive studies of the solar chromosphere and solar activity. He worked at the Paris and Meudon Observatories. His investigation of molecular spectra produced empirical laws presaging those of quantum mechanics. He observed spectra of planets and stars and measured their radial velocities of, and he determined the rotation rates of Uranus, Jupiter and Saturn (shortly after James E. Keeler).*TIS

1856 Emile Picard born. Picard's mathematical papers, textbooks, and many popular writings exhibit an extraordinary range of interests, as well as an impressive mastery of the mathematics of his time. Modern students of complex variables are probably familiar with two of his named theorems. His lesser theorem states that every nonconstant entire function takes every value in the complex plane, with perhaps one exception. His greater theorem states that an analytic function with an essential singularity takes every value infinitely often, with perhaps one exception, in any neighborhood of the singularity. He also made important contributions in the theory of differential equations, including work on Picard–Vessiot theory, Painlevé transcendents and his introduction of a kind of symmetry group for a linear differential equation, the Picard group. In connection with his work on function theory, he was one of the first mathematicians to use the emerging ideas of algebraic topology. In addition to his path-breaking theoretical work, Picard also made important contributions to applied mathematics, including the theories of telegraphy and elasticity. His collected papers run to four volumes.
Like his contemporary, Henri Poincaré, Picard was much concerned with the training of mathematics, physics, and engineering students. He wrote a classic textbook on analysis and one of the first textbooks on the theory of relativity. Picard's popular writings include biographies of many leading French mathematicians, including his father in law, Charles Hermite.*Wik

1871 Paul Epstein was a German mathematician. He is known for his contributions to number theory, in particular the Epstein zeta function.
Epstein was raised in Frankfurt where his father was a professor. He received his PhD in 1895 from the University of Strasbourg. From 1895 to 1918 he was a Privatdozent at the University in Strasbourg, which at that time was part of the German Empire. At the end of World War I the city of Strasbourg reverted to France, and Epstein, being German, had to return to Frankfurt.
Epstein was appointed to a non-tenured post at the university and he lectured in Frankfurt from 1919. Later he was appointed professor at Frankfurt. However, after the Nazis came to power in Germany he lost his university position. Because of his age he was unable to find a new position abroad, and finally committed suicide by abusing barbital, fearing Gestapo torture. *Wik

1923 Christine Mary Hamill (July 24, 1923 – March 24, 1956) was an English mathematician who specialized in group theory and finite geometry. After receiving her Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in 1951, she was appointed to a lectureship in the University of Sheffield and later was appointed lecturer in the University College, Ibadan, Nigeria.*Wik

1928 Errett Albert Bishop (His) work is so wide ranging that it is difficult to give an overview in a biography such as this. Let us look at the book Selected papers which was published in 1986 and reprints some of Bishop's most significant contributions. The book divided Bishop's papers into five categories:
(1) Polynomial and rational approximation. Examples are extensions of Mergelyan's approximation theorem and the theorem of Frigyes Riesz and Marcel Riesz concerning measures on the unit circle orthogonal to polynomials. Bishop found new methods in dealing with these problems;
(2) The general theory of function algebras. Here Bishop worked on uniform algebras (commutative Banach algebras with unit whose norms are the spectral norms) proving results such as antisymmetric decomposition of a uniform algebra, the Bishop-DeLeeuw theorem, and the proof of existence of Jensen measures. In 1965 Bishop wrote an excellent survey Uniform algebras examining the interaction between the theory of uniform algebras and that of several complex variables.
(3) Banach spaces and operator theory. An examples of a paper by Bishop on this topic is Spectral theory for operators on a Banach space (1957). He introduced the condition now called the Bishop condition which turned out to be very useful in the theory of decomposable operators.
(4) Several complex variables. Examples of Bishop's papers in this area are Analyticity in certain Banach spaces (1962). He proved important results in this area such as the biholomorphic embedding theorem for a Stein manifold as a closed submanifold in Cn, and a new proof of Remmert's proper mapping theorem.
(5) Constructive mathematics. Bishop become interested in foundational issues around 1964, about the time he was at the Miller Institute. He wrote a famous text Foundations of constructive analysis (1967) which aimed to show that a constructive treatment of analysis is feasible.*SAU

1934 Hans Hahn was an Austrian mathematician who is best remembered for the Hahn-Banach theorem. He also made important contributions to the calculus of variations, developing ideas of Weierstrass. *SAU

1964 Finlay Freundlich was a distinguished German astronomer who worked with Einstein on measurements of the orbit of Mercury to confirm the general theory of relativity. He left Germany to avoid Nazi rule and became the Napier Professor of Astronomy at St Andrews. *SAU

1974 Sir James Chadwick English physicist who received the Nobel Prize for Physics (1935) for his discovery of the neutron. He studied at Cambridge, and in Berlin under Geiger, then worked at the Cavendish Laboratory with Rutherford, where he investigated the structure of the atom. He worked on the scattering of alpha particles and on nuclear disintegration. By bombarding beryllium with alpha particles, Chadwick discovered the neutron - a neutral particle in the atom's nucleus - for which he received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1935. In 1932, Chadwick coined the name "neutron," which he described in an article in the journal Nature. He led the UK's work on the atomic bomb in WW II, and was knighted in 1945*TIS

1983 Eberhard Frederich Ferdinand Hopf (April 4, 1902, Salzburg, Austria-Hungary – July 24, 1983, Bloomington, Indiana) was a mathematician and astronomer, one of the founding fathers of ergodic theory and a pioneer of bifurcation theory who also made significant contributions to the subjects of partial differential equations and integral equations, fluid dynamics, and differential geometry. The Hopf maximum principle is an early result of his (1927) which is one of the most important techniques in the theory of elliptic partial differential equations.*Wik

2005 Sir Richard Doll British epidemiologist who was one of the first two researchers to link cigarette smoking to lung cancer, as published in the British Medical Journal in 1950. In the same journal, fifty years later, Doll published (22 Jun 2004) the first research that quantified the damage over the lifetime of a generation, based on a 50-year study of a group of almost 35,000 British doctors who smoked. The study found that almost half of persistent cigarette smokers were killed by their habit, and a quarter died before age 70. Persons who quit by age 30 had normal life expectancy. Even quitting at age 50 saved six more years of life over those who continued smoking. He studied other health effects, such as those caused by asbestos and electricmagnetic fields.*TIS

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