Sunday, 28 August 2011

On This Day in Math - Aug 28



As long as algebra and geometry have been separated, their progress have been slow and their uses limited; but when these two sciences have been united, they have lent each mutual forces, and have marched together towards perfection.
~Joseph Louis Lagrange

The 240th day of the year; 240 has more divisors (20 of them) than any previous number. What would be the first number that has more?

EVENTS
412 BC The ancient city of Syracuse suffered heavily under siege by the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War. A turn of events occurred during the Second Battle of Syracuse: on Aug. 28, 412 B.C. a lunar eclipse occurred, causing the superstitious Athenians to delay departure. The Syracuseans took advantage of Athenian indecision and decisively defeated the unprotected Athenian expedition as it sat exposed in the harbor. *listosaur.com
In 1789, Sir William Herschel discovered Saturn's moon Enceladus. *TIS

1845 , the first issue of the Scientific American was published by Rufus Porter (1792-1884), a versatile if eccentric Yankee, who was by turns a portrait-painter, schoolmaster, inventor and editor. While the paper was still a small weekly journal with a circulation less than 300, he offered it for sale. It was bought for $800 in July 1846 by 20-year-old Alfred Ely Beach (1826-1896) as editor, and Orson Desaix Munn (1824-1907). Together, they built it over the years into a great and unique periodical. Their circulation reached 10,000 by 1848, 20,000 by 1852, and 30,000 by 1853.*TIS

1961 The Board of Governors of the MAA voted to name Dr. Mina S. Rees, (first) Dean of Graduate Studies at the City University of New York, the first recipient of their Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics. From 1946 to 1953 she held several important positions at the Office of Naval Research and was instrumental in getting ONR to adopt the policy that mathematics was part of this country’s total scientific effort and should be properly supported by government-sponsored research programs. [AMM 69(1962), pp. 185-187]. *VFR

1974 Sweden issued a stamp picturing a spool and thread, with the thread stretched to form a string figure of a hyperbola. [Scott #1094]. *VFR

1993, a picture was taken showing the first moon of an asteroid. The asteroid 243 Ida and its newly-discovered moon, Dactyl was imaged by NASA's Galileo spacecraft, about 14 minutes before its closest approach (within 2,400-km or 1,500 miles) to the asteroid. Ida is about 52 km (32 mi) in length and is irregularly shaped. It shows numerous craters, including many degraded craters, indicating Ida's surface is older than previously thought. Dactyl is only about 1.4-km in diameter, and it is spectrally different from Ida data. The picture was released on 26 Mar 1994. Galileo had encountered the first asteroid - 951 Gaspra - on 29 Oct 1991. Galileo continued on its mission to study Jupiter, beginning its orbit of the planet on 7 Dec 1995.*TIS

BIRTHS
1749 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe born.

1796 Irénée-Jules Bienaymé (28 August 1796, 19 October 1878), was a French statistician. He built on the legacy of Laplace generalizing his least squares method. He contributed to the fields and probability, and statistics and to their application to finance, demography and social sciences. In particular, he formulated the Bienaymé-Chebyshev inequality concerning the law of large numbers and the Bienaymé formula for the variance of a sum of uncorrelated random variables.*Wik

1801 Antoine-Augustin Cournot (28 Aug 1801; 31 Mar 1877) French economist and mathematician, who was the first economist who applied mathematics to the treatment of economic questions. In 1838, he published Recherches sur les principes mathématiques de la théorie des richesses (Researches into the Mathematical Principles of the Theory of Wealth) which was a treatment of mathematical economics. In particular, he considered the supply-and-demand functions. Further, he studied the conditions for equilibrium with monopoly, duopoly and perfect competition. He included the effect of taxes, treated as changes in production costs, and discussed problems of international trade. His definition of a market is still the basis for that presently used in economics. In other work, he applied probability to legal statistics *TIS

1863 Andre-Eugene Blondel (28 Aug 1863; 15 Nov 1938) was a French physicist who invented (1893) the electromagnetic oscillograph, a device that allowed electrical researchers to observe the intensity of alternating currents. In 1894, he proposed the lumen and other new photometric units for use in photometry, based on the metre and the Violle candle. Endorsed in 1896 by the International Electrical Congress, his system is still in use with only minor modifications. Blondel was a pioneer in the high voltage long distance transport of electric power, and also contributed to developments in wireless telegraphy, acoustics, and mechanics. He proposed theories for induction motors and coupling of a.c. generators.*TIS

1867 Maxime Bˆochner born. After receiving his doctorate under Felix Klein in 1891 he returned to Harvard for a lifetime of teaching and research in differential equations. *VFR

1883 Jan A Schouten worked on tensor analysis and its applications.*SAU

1901 Kurt Otto Friedrichs (September 28, 1901 – December 31, 1982) was a noted German American mathematician. He was the co-founder of the Courant Institute at New York University and recipient of the National Medal of Science.*Wik

1911 Shizuo Kakutani (角谷 静夫 Kakutani Shizuo?, August 28 1911, August 17 2004) was a Japanese-born American mathematician, best known for his eponymous fixed-point theorem. *Wik

1919 Sir Godfrey Newbold Hounsfield (28 Aug 1919; 12 Aug 2004) English electrical engineer who shared the 1979 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (with Allan Cormack) for creation of computerised axial tomography (CAT) scanners. He originated the idea during a country walk in 1967 when he realized that the contents of a box could be reconstructed by taking readings at all angles through it. He applied the concept for scanning the brain using hundreds of X-ray beams imaging cross-sections that were reconstructed as high-resolution graphics by a computer program handling complex algebraic calculations. By 1973 his CAT scanner could produce cross-section images of a brain in 4-1/2-min, invaluable for the diagnosis of brain diseases. He later built larger machines able to make a full body scan. *TIS

1939 John Frank Charles Kingman worked in Statistics and made significant advances in queuing theory.

DEATHS
2005 George Szekeres was a Hungarian-born mathematician who worked for most of his life in Australia on geometry and combinatorics. *SAU

2007 Paul Beattie MacCready (29 Sep 1925, 28 Aug 2007) was an American engineer who invented not only the first human-powered flying machines, but also the first solar-powered aircraft to make sustained flights. On 23 Aug 1977, the pedal-powered aircraft, the Gossamer Condor successfully flew a 1.15 mile figure-8 course to demonstrate sustained, maneuverable manpowered flight, for which he won the £50,000 ($95,000) Kremer Prize. MacCready designed the Condor with Dr. Peter Lissamen. Its frame was made of thin aluminum tubes, covered with mylar plastic supported with stainless steel wire. In 1979, the Gossamer Albatross won the second Kremer Prize for making a flight across the English Channel. *TIS

2011 Anthony Edgar Sale (or Tony Sale) (30 January 1931 - 28 August 2011) led the construction of a Colossus computer replica at Bletchley Park, completed in 2007 *Wik


In 1994, a team led by Tony Sale began a reconstruction of a Colossus at Bletchley Park. Here, in 2006, Sale (right) supervises the breaking of an enciphered message with the completed machine. *Wik Photo
Credits
*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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