Monday, 22 August 2011

On This Day in Math - Aug 22

Only professional mathematicians learn anything from professors.
Other people learn from explanations.

~Ralph Boas

The 234th day of the year, 234 is the number of ways to stack 12 pennies in a line so that each penny lies on the table or on two pennies. *What's Special About This Number?

1450 Gutenberg borrowed 800 guilden in gold at 6% interest (a low rate then) to develop his invention of printing from movable metal type. The first book produced was a 42-line Latin Bible, the famous Gutenberg Bible. [G. H. Putnam, Books and Their Makers During the Middle Ages (1896), p. 361]. *VFR

1850 Michael Faraday in a letter to William Whewell writes, "I have been driven to assume for some time, especially in relation to the gases, a sort of conducting power for magnetism. Mere space is Zero. One substance being made to occupy a given portion of space will cause more lines of force to pass through that space than before, and another substance will cause less to pass. The former I now call Paramagnetic & the latter are the diamagnetic. The former need not of necessity assume a polarity of particles such as iron has with magnetic, and the latter do not assume any such polarity either direct or reverse. I do not say more to you just now because my own thoughts are only in the act of formation, but this I may say: that the atmosphere has an extraordinary magnetic constitution, & I hope & expect to find in it the cause of the annual & diurnal variations, but keep this to yourself until I have time to see what harvest will spring from my growing ideas." * L. P. Williams (ed.), The Selected Correspondence of Michael Faraday (1971), Vol. 2, 589.
1883 Sylvester writes Cayley that, "I have been recovering my theory of multiple algebras - by slow degrees." Thus begins his first sustained assault on Matrix Theory. *The Emergence of the American Mathematical Research Community, 1876-1900, Parshal & Rowe

In 1893 "An international Congress of Mathematicians is held at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, August 21-26. Felix Klein​ and E.H. Moore occupy center stage. The Committee of Ten on Secondary School Studies recommends a year of algebra, followed by two years of plane and solid geometry to be taught side by side with more algebra. The first year's course in algebra is recommended for all students."*from Milestones in (Ohio)Mathematics, by David E. Kullman

1900 It seems that Henry Ernest Dudeney may have been the first person to explore the use of primes to create a magic square. He gave the problem of constructing a magic in The Weekly Dispatch, 22nd July and 5th August 1900. At that time, 1 was sometimes (often?) considered as a prime number. His magic square gives the lowest possible sum for a 3x3 using primes (assuming one is prime)
The smallest magic square with true primes (not using one) has a magic constant of 177. Good luck.
*Christian Boyer, Multimagic Squares

1955 The first computer User Group is founded. SHARE was founded by users of IBM's Model 704 computer, ... in order for the growing community of IBM computer users (mainly aerospace companies on the U.S. West Coast) to exchange information and programs. The first meeting included scientists and engineers whose companies had ordered IBM's newest computer, the 704. Sparked by quick growth and the fact that its members were some of IBM's largest customers, the group had significant influence over IBM designs and customer support. *CHM

1647 Denis Papin (22 Aug 1647; c1712) French-born British physicist who invented the pressure cooker (1679). He assisted Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens with air-pump experiments, and went to London in 1675 to work with the English physicist Robert Boyle. A few years later, Papin invented his steam digester (pressure cooker), a closed vessel with a tightly fitting lid that confined the steam at a higher pressure, considerably raising the boiling point of the water. A safety valve of his own invention prevented explosions. Observing that the enclosed steam in his cooker tended to raise the lid, Papin conceived of the use of steam to drive a piston in a cylinder, the basic design for early steam engines. He never built an engine of his own, but his idea was improved by others and led to the development of the steam engine, a major contribution to the Industrial Revolution. *TIS

1796 Baden Powell born in Stamford Hill, England. Savilian professor of geometry at Oxford from 1827 to 1854. He deserves credit for the modest reforms in mathematical education at Oxford in the 1850s. One son (he had 14 children by 3 wives) Robert Baden-Powell founded the scouting movement. *VFR He fought for the principle acknowledging scientific advances were compatible with Christian religion. Following Darwin's "Origin of Species" in 1859, he contributed one of seven essays in "Essays and Reviews," 1860. This was violently attacked, and the authors denounced as being inspired by "the Evil One himself." "There was some expectation of him becoming a Bishop, before Essays and Reviews were published" (letter from his widow to her nephew 20.8.1909). *

1834 Samuel Pierpont Langley, (22 Aug 1834; 27 Feb 1906)American astronomer, physicist, and aeronautics pioneer who built the first heavier-than-air flying machine to achieve sustained flight. He launched his Aerodrome No.5 on 6 May 1896 using a spring-actuated catapult mounted on top of a houseboat on the Potomac River, near Quantico, Virginia. He also researched the relationship of solar phenomena to meteorology. *TIS


1664 Maria Cunitz was an astronomer who published simpler versions of Kepler's work. *SAU The publication of the book Urania propitia gained Cunitz a European reputation. She was acclaimed as the most learned woman since Hypatia of Alexandria. Significantly for a technical publication of that period, her book was written both in Latin and German (stating that it was to increase the accessibility to her work). Urania propitia was a simplification of the Rudolphine Tables. It provided new tables, new ephemera, and a more elegant solution to Kepler's Problem, which is to determine the position of a planet in its orbit as a function of time. Today, her book is also credited for its contribution to the development of the German scientific language. *Wik

1676 Edward Cocker was an English scholar who was the author of an influential arithmetic text which ran to more than 100 editions. Cocker died with no money in his Poke to quote his own phrase. As Wallis writes
Subsequently he might well have suffered material loss in the Fire and have had the expense of successive removals. He may also have spent extravagantly. He possessed 'some choice Manuscripts, and a great Collection of Printed Authors in several Languages' ... In any event, he died in debt, 'within the rules' of the King's Bench Prison, which was situated in Southwark; the quoted phrase meant that the prisoner had purchased the right to live within a short distance of the prison. Cocker's move to Southwark was probably an enforced one, consequent on his committal for debt.
Benjamin Franklin's autobiography makes mention that he studied ..., Cocker's Arithmetic, after he moved from his home to Pennsylvania, " And now it was that, being on some occasion made asham'd of my ignorance in figures, which I had twice failed in learning when at school, I took Cocker's book of Arithmetick, and went through the whole by myself with great ease.

1700 Siguenza y Gongora was a Mexican astronomer and philosopher. *SAU (Gongora died two days after his 55th birthday.)

1752 William Whiston (born 9 Dec 1667, 22 Aug 1752)English Anglican priest and mathematician who sought to harmonize religion and science, and who is remembered for reviving in England the heretical views of Arianism. He attended Newton's lectures while at Cambridge and showed great promise in mathematics. Ordained in 1693. While chaplain to the bishop of Norwich (1694-98), he wrote A New Theory of the Earth (1696), in which he claimed that the biblical stories of the creation, flood and final conflagration could be explained scientifically as descriptions of events with historical bases. The Flood, he believed, was caused by a comet passing close to the Earth on 28 Nov 2349 BC. This put stress on the Earth's crust, causing it to crack and allow the water to escape and flood the Earth. After serving as vicar of Lowestoft (1698–1701), he returned to his alma mater, Cambridge University to become assistant to the mathematician Sir Isaac Newton, whom he succeeded as professor in 1703. *TIS (His translations of the works of Josephus are still in print)

1907 Platon Sergeevich Poretsky He published major works on methods of solution of logical equations, and on the reverse mode of mathematical logic. He applied his logic calculus to the theory of probability. Although he retired from his teaching role at Kazan in 1889 due to ill health, this did not mean that he stopped his research. He continued to undertake research into mathematical logic for the remaining eighteen years of his life. *SAU

1974 Jacob Bronowski, (18 Jan 1908, 22 Aug 1974)Polish-born British mathematician and man of letters who eloquently presented the case for the humanistic aspects of science. He is remembered as writer and presenter of the BBC television series, The Ascent of Man. Bronowski, who had a Ph.D. in algebraic geometry, spent WW II in Operations Research, and was an official observer of the after-effects of the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings. After this experience, he turned to biology, to better understand the nature of violence. *TIS

1975 Andrzej Mostowski was a Polish mathematician who worked on logic and the foundations of mathematics.*SAU

*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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