Friday, 8 July 2011

On This Day in Math - July 8

I never came across one of Laplace's "Thus it plainly appears"
without feeling sure that I have hours of hard work before me to fill up the chasm
and find out and show how it plainly appears.
Nathanial Bowditch, Quoted in F Cajori, The Teaching and History of Mathematics in the United States

1672 Newton's first publication is in a letter to the Philosophical Transactions: “A Serie’s of Quere’s Propounded by Mr. Isaac Newton, to be Determin’d by Experiments, Positively and Directly Concluding His New Theory of Light and Colours; and Here Recommended to the Industry of the Lovers of Experimental Philosophy, as they Were Generously Imparted to the Publisher in a Letter of the Said Mr. Newtons of July 8.1672” (Thanks to Thony Christie) *Philosophical Transactions
1706 de Moivre wrote to Johann Bernoulli on 8 July 1706 telling him about Machin's series for π he suggested that Johann Bernoulli might tell Jakob Hermann about Machin's unproved result. He did so and Hermann quickly discovered a proof that Machin's series converges to π. He produced techniques that show other similar series also converge rapidly to π and he wrote on 21 August 1706 to Leibniz giving details. Two years later, on 6 July 1708, de Moivre wrote again to Johann Bernoulli about Machin's series, on this occasion giving two different proofs that it converged to π.
In 1706 William Jones published a work Synopsis palmariorum matheseos or, A New Introduction to the Mathematics, Containing the Principles of Arithmetic and Geometry Demonstrated in a Short and Easie Method ... Designed for ... Beginners. (This is the book in which Jones first uses Pi in the mathematical sens it is now used) This contains on page 243 the following passage:-
There are various other ways of finding the lengths or areas of particular curve lines, or planes, which may very much facilitate the practice; as for instance, in the circle, the diameter is to the circumference as 1 to (16/5- 4/239) - 1/3(16/53- 4/2393) &c. = 3.14159 &c. = π. This series (among others for the same purpose, and drawn from the same principle) I received from the excellent analyst, and my much esteemed friend Mr John Machin; and by means thereof, van Ceulen's number, or that in Art. 64.38 may be examined with all desirable ease and dispatch.
Jones also reports that this formula allows π be calculated:-
... to above 100 places; as computed by the accurate and ready pen of the truly ingenious Mr John Machin. No indication is given in Jones's work, however, as to how Machin discovered his series expansion for π.

1835 Liberty bell cracked. *VFR

In 1881, a patron came into Edward Berner's drug store in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, and sat down at the soda-fountain counter. Since it was the Sabbath, the customer couldn't have the desirable, but scandalous, flavored soda water. Berner compromised by putting ice cream in a dish and poured over it the chocolate syrup that was previously only served as flavoring in ice-cream sodas. That was an ice cream Sunday! The name became "sundae", after the day on which Berner served it. TIS

1933 Jansky announced detection of radio radiation from galactic center.*VFR

1760 Christian Kramp (July 8, 1760 – May 13, 1826) was a French mathematician, who worked primarily with factorials.
As Bessel, Legendre and Gauss did, Kramp worked on the generalised factorial function which applied to non-integers. His work on factorials is independent of that of James Stirling and Vandermonde. He was the first to use the notation n! (Elements d'arithmétique universelle, 1808). In fact, the more general concept of factorial was found at the same time by Arbogast.*TIS For more on the symbols and history of the factorial see here.

1777 Daniel Friedrich Hecht (8 July 1777 in Sosa – 13 March 1833 in Saxony) was a German mathematician. He was a mine manager, then a teacher and finally a professor of mathematics. He is most notable for writing high school textbooks on maths and geometry. *Wik
1838 Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin Germany aviation pioneer who built the first rigid dirigible airships, named Zeppelins. He patented his idea on 31 Aug 1895 and formed a company to build airships in 1898. Many thought his invention incredible, and called him "Foolish Count". His first airship took off in 2 Jul 1900 at Lake Constance, where it had been assembled in a floating assembly shed. He continued to improve the design and built a fleet of airships for commercial passenger service. During WW I, Zeppelins were used to bomb Britain beginning 19 Jan 1915 with attacks on Great Yarmouth and King's Lynn. After the war, passenger service included transatlantic flights. Zeppelin use ended after the 6 May 1937 Hindenburg fire disaster at Lakehurst, N.J., U.S.A.*TIS

1857 Birthdate of Alfred Binet who introduced his famous IQ test in 1905. *VFR French experimental psychologist, the director of the psychological laboratory of the Sorbonne, Paris (1894). He made fundamental contributions to the measurement of intelligence.With Theodore Simon, Binet produced a series of graded tasks typical of the intellectual development of children of different ages (1905). This scale was extended (1908-11), and the tasks were assigned to the age level at which average children could manage them. Thus children could be scored for the level, or mental age, they reached. This test formed the basis for the Stanford-Binet Tests.*TIS (today in Science also gives Binet's birthdate on July 11th, with a different description:  French psychologist who was a pioneer in the field of intelligence testing of the normal mind. He took a different approach than most psychologists of his day: he was interested in the workings of the normal mind rather than the pathology of mental illness. He wanted to find a way to measure the ability to think and reason, apart from education in any particular field. In 1905 he developed a test in which he had children do tasks such as follow commands, copy patterns, name objects, and put things in order or arrange them properly. He gave the test to Paris schoolchildren and created a standard based on his data. From Binet's work, "IQ" (intelligence quotient), entered the vocabulary. The IQ is the ratio of "mental age" to chronological age, with 100 being average.)

1895 Igor Yevgenyevich Tamm Soviet physicist who shared the 1958 Nobel Prize for Physics with Pavel A. Cherenkov and Ilya M. Frank for his efforts in explaining Cherenkov radiation. Tamm was an outstanding theoretical physicist, after early researches in crystallo-optics, he evolved a method for interpreting the interaction of nuclear particles. Together with I. M. Frank, he developed the theoretical interpretation of the radiation of electrons moving through matter faster than the speed of light (the Cerenkov effect), and the theory of showers in cosmic rays. He has also contributed towards methods for the control of thermonuclear reactions. *TIS
one of my favorite math stories is from George Gamow's autobiography and is about Tamm.
"Here is a story told to me by one of my friends who was at that time
a young professor of physics in Odessa. His name was Igor Tamm (Nobel
Prize laureate in Physics, 1958). Once when he arrived in a neighboring
village, at that period when Odessa was occupied by the Reds, and was
negotiating with a villager as to how many chickens he could get for
half a dozen silver spoons, the village was captured by one of the
Makhno bands, who were roaming the country, harassing the Reds. Seeing
his city clothes (or what was left of them), the capturers [sic]
brought him to the Ataman, a bearded fellow in a tall black fur
hat with machine-gun cartridge ribbons crossed on his broad chest and
a couple of hand grenades hanging on the belt.

'You son-of-a-bitch, you Communist agitator, undermining our Mother
Ukraine! The punishment is death.'

'But no,' answered Tamm, 'I am a professor at the University of Odessa
and have come here only to get some food.'

'Rubbish!' retorted the leader. 'What kind of professor are you ?'

'I teach mathematics.'

'Mathematics?' said the Ataman. 'All right! Then give me an estimate of
the error one makes by cutting off Maclaurin's series at the nth term.
Do this, and you will go free. Fail, and you will be shot!'

Tamm could not believe his ears, since this problem belongs to a rather
special branch of higher mathematics. With a shaking hand, and under
the muzzle of the gun, he managed to work out the solution and handed
it to the Ataman.

'Correct!' said the Ataman. 'Now I see that you really are a professor.
Go home!'

Who was this man? No one will ever know. If he was not killed later, he
may well be lecturing now on higher mathematics in some Ukrainian

I tell this story every other year or so to my physics students when
they cannot be bothered to remember the form of the remainder in Taylor

1904 Henri (-Paul) Cartan, mathematician born in Nancy, France. His father, Elie Cartan, was also a mathematician. Henri made fundamental advances in the theory of analytic functions, worked on the theory of sheaves, homological theory, algebraic topology and potential theory. Along with others, such as Weil and Dieudonné, Henri Cartan wrote under the name Bourbaki. Bourbaki's Eléments de mathématique contains more than 30 volumes and aims to present mathematics so as to illustrate the axiomatic structure of modern mathematics. *TIS

1915 1915 Kenneth O. May born *VFR  Kenneth O. May (July 8, 1915 – December 1977) was an American mathematician and historian of mathematics, who developed May's theorem. The Kenneth O. May Prize is awarded for outstanding contributions to the history of mathematics. 

1390 Albert of Saxony died. He wrote an excellent logic text and published two works on squaring the circle. *VFR ert was born at Rickensdorf near Helmstedt, the son of a farmer in a small village; but because of his talent, he was sent to study at the University of Prague and the University of Paris.
At Paris, he became a master of arts (a professor), and held this post from 1351 until 1362. In 1353, he was rector of the University of Paris. After 1362, Albert went to the court of Pope Urban V in Avignon as an envoy of Rudolf IV, Duke of Austria, in order to negotiate the founding of the University of Vienna. The negotiations were successful, and Albert became the first rector of this University in 1365.
In 1366, Albert was elected bishop of Halberstadt (counted as Albert III), Halberstadt being the diocese in which he was born. As Bishop of Halberstadt, he allied himself with Magnus with the Necklace, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, against Gebhard of Berg, Bishop of Hildesheim, and was taken prisoner by Gebhard in the battle of Dinckler in 1367.
He died at Halberstadt in 1390.*Wik

1695  Christiaan Huygens   Dutch mathematician, astronomer, and physicist, who founded the wave theory of light, discovered the true shape of the rings of Saturn, and contributed to the science of dynamics - the study of the action of forces on bodies. Using a lens he ground for himself, on 25 Mar 1655, he discovered the first moon of Saturn, later named Titan. In 1656, he patented the first pendulum clock, which he developed to enable exact time measurement while observing the heavens. Huygens studied the relation of the length of a pendulum to its period of oscillation (1673) and stated theories on centrifugal force in circular motion which influenced Sir Isaac Newton in formulating his Law of Gravity. Huygens also studied and drew the first maps of Mars. On 14 Jan 2005, a NASA space probe, named after Huygens, landed on Titan. *TIS

1971 Kurt Werner Friedrich Reidemeister (October 13, 1893 – July 8, 1971) was a mathematician born in Braunschweig (Brunswick), Germany.
He received his doctorate in 1921 with a thesis in algebraic number theory at the University of Hamburg under the supervision of Erich Hecke. In 1923 he was appointed assistant professor at the University of Vienna. While there he became familiar with the work of Hans Hahn and Wilhelm Wirtinger. In 1925 he became full professor at University of Königsberg, where he stayed until 1933, when he was forced to leave because of his opposition of the Nazis.
Reidemeister's interests were mainly in combinatorial group theory, combinatorial topology, geometric group theory, and the foundations of geometry. His books include Knoten und Gruppen (1926), Einführung in die kombinatorische Topologie (1932), and Knotentheorie (1932). He was the brother of Marie Neurath.*Wik

1979 Shin'ichiro Tomonaga Japanese physicist who shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1965 (with Richard P. Feynman and Julian S. Schwinger of the U.S.) for independently developing basic principles of quantum electrodynamics. He was one of the first to apply quantum theory to subatomic particles with very high energies. Tomonaga began with an analysis of intermediate coupling - the idea that interactions between two particles take place through the exchange of a third (virtual particle), like one ship affecting another by firing a cannonball. He used this concept to develop a quantum field theory (1941-43) that was consistent with the theory of special relativity. WW II delayed news of his work. Meanwhile, Feynman and Schwinger published their own independent solutions.

2010 David Harold Blackwell (April 24, 1919 – July 8, 2010) was Professor Emeritus of Statistics at the University of California, Berkeley, and is one of the eponyms of the Rao–Blackwell theorem. Born in Centralia, Illinois, he was the first African American inducted into the National Academy of Sciences, and the first black tenured faculty member at UC Berkeley.*Wik

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