Thursday, 15 September 2011
On This Day in Math - Sep 16
...[T]o many it is not knowledge but the quest for knowledge that gives greater interest to thought—to travel hopefully is better than to arrive
~Sir James Jeans
The 259th day of the year;259 expressed in base six is a repunit, 1111 (1x63+1x62+ 1x61+1x60= 216+36+6+1=259)
and for my ex-students from Japan, 259 is The number of Pokémon originally available in Pokémon Gold and Silver
In 1662, the first recorded astronomical observation by the (to become) first Astronomer Royal was John Flamsteed's observation of a solar eclipse from his home in Derby at the age of sixteen, about which he corresponded with other astronomers. Flamsteed's interest in astronomy was stirred by the solar eclipse, and besides reading all he could find on the subject he attempted to make his own measuring instruments. *TIS
1693 In a letter to John Locke, Newton apologized for ill thoughts that he had harbored against Locke. *VFR Locke was strongly denounced by several writers and even called an atheist, notably by John Edwards, but such charges were commonplace against every departure from Orthodoxy. During his period of insanity (following 1693) Isaac Newton made similar charges against Locke; at least he wrote Locke a strange letter apologizing for considering him a Hobbist and having charged him with attacking the root of morality,*Contra Mundum, No. 1 Fall 1991, "At the Origins of English Rationalism", by T.E. Wilder (Locke and Newton were usually friends)
1787 Jefferson writes his ex law professor, George Wythe in regard to the construction of geometric models in the classroom. (Jefferson sep16.pdf) Wythe is considered one of the finest jurists of the period, and had Jefferson, Monroe, and John Marshall as students.
1804 J L Gay-Lussac sets height record of 22,000+ feet during balloon lift to make measurements of magnetism and electricity.
In 1835, British naturalist Charles Darwin, aboard the ship HMS Beagle, arrived at the Galapagos archipelago, a cluster of islands on the equator 600 miles west of South America. During his five weeks studying the fauna in the Galapagos, Darwin found the giant tortoises there greatly differed from one another according to which island they came from. Moreover, many islands developed their own races of iguanas. These observations contributed to his theory of “natural selection,” that species evolved over thousands of millions of years. *TIS
1848 Weierstrass came to the Catholic Gymnasium in Braunsberg, his third such position. That year he taught mathematics 19 hours per week, took over the geography class after Easter, and received a special note of thanks for helping out in gym! [From the annual report of the Gymnasium in the University of Louisville’s Bullitt Collection of Mathematics. *VFR
1895 Pierson writes to Yule, "I had a most kindly and encouraging letter from Francis Galton about my Heredity paper. He really is a fine old fellow to take my modification of his views so well." *The History of Statistics: The Measurement of Uncertainty Before 1900
By Stephen M. Stigler
1986 “Four out of three jocks can’t count,” read a headline in The Harvard Lampoon’s parody of USA Today. *VFR
1494 Francisco Maurolico(September 16, 1494-July 21 or July 22, 1575) was an Italian Benedictine who wrote important books on Greek mathematics. He also worked on geometry, the theory of numbers, optics, conics and mechanics.*SAU (His Arithmeticorum libri duo (1575) includes the first known proof by mathematical induction. He proved that the sum of the first n odd numbers is equal to n2 .) Maurolico's astronomical observations include a sighting of the supernova that appeared in Cassiopeia in 1572. Tycho Brahe published details of his observations in 1574; the supernova is now known as Tycho's Supernova.*Wik
1736 Johannes Nikolaus Tetens (16 Sep 1736; 17 Aug 1807) German natural philosopher whose empirical approach strongly influenced the work of Immanuel Kant, and later in his life, Tetens became interested in mathematics, especially in actuarial applications. From 1760, as a teacher of natural philosophy he wrote on diverse topics but later began the development of the field of developmental psychology in Germany. He wrote Philosophische Versuche über die menschliche Natur und ihre Entwickelung (1777) on the origin and structure of knowledge. He changed career after 1789 to the civil service during which time he pursued mathematics. As a statistician he produced an Introduction to the Calculation of Life Annuities (1785) and On the Tetens Mortality Curve (1785)*TIS
1804 Squire Whipple (16 Sep 1804; 15 Mar 1888) U.S. civil engineer, inventor, and theoretician who provided the first scientifically based rules for bridge construction, was considered one of the top engineers of the 19th Century, and was known as the "father of iron bridges." He began his career as a bridge-builder in 1840 by designing and patenting an iron-bridge truss. During the next ten years he built several bridges on the Erie canal and the New York and Erie railroad. His design of the Whipple truss bridge was the model for hundreds of bridges that crossed the Erie Canal in the late 19-th century. Before developing his design, Whipple worked for several years on surveys, estimates, and reports for the enlargement of the Erie Canal, and in 1840 he patented a scale for weighing canal boats. He later built the first weighing lock scale constructed on the Erie Canal. The invention of the steam engine required bridges which could support heavy live loads and this motivated Squire to turn his attention to bridges. In 1853, he completed a 146-ft span iron railroad bridge near West Troy (now Watervliet), N.Y. His book on the design of bridges using scientific methods (1847) was the first of its kind. The formulas and his methods are still useful. He obtained a patent for his lift draw-bridge in 1872.*TIS
1736 Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit (24 May 1686, 16 Sep 1736) was a German-Dutch physicist and instrument maker (meteorological). He lived in Holland for most of his life. He invented the alcohol thermometer (1709) and mercury thermometer (1714) and developed the Fahrenheit temperature scale. For the zero of his scale he used the temperature of an equal ice-salt mixture; 30° for the freezing point of water; and 90° for normal body temperature. Later, he adjusted to 32° for the freezing point of water and 212° for the boiling point of water, the interval between the two being divided into 180 parts. He also invented a hygrometer to measure relative humidity and experimented with other liquids discovering that each liquid had a different boiling point that would change with atmospheric pressure.*TIS
1925 Alexander Alexandrovich Friedmann (16 Jun 1888, 16 Sep 1925) Russian mathematician who was the first to work out a mathematical analysis of an expanding universe consistent with general relativity, yet without Einstein's cosmological constant. In 1922, he developed solutions to the field equations, one of which clearly described a universe that began from a point singularity, and expanded thereafter. In his article On the Curvature of Space received by the journal Zeitschrift für Physik on 29 Jun 1922, he showed that the radius of curvature of the universe can be either an increasing or a periodic function of time. In Jul 1925, he made a record-breaking 7400-m balloon ascent to make meteorological and medical observations. A few weeks later he fell ill and died of typhus. *TIS
1931 Niels Nielsen (2 Dec 1865 , 16 Sept 1931) was a Danish mathematician who worked on special functions and number theory. *SAU (He also wrote two mathematical histories, one for France, and one for Denmark)
1932 Sir Ronald Ross (born 13 May 1857, 16 Sep 1932) English physician, bacteriologist and mathematician whose discovery of the malarial parasite in the gastrointestinal tract of the Anopheles mosquito led to the realization that malaria was transmitted by Anopheles. For this work, he was awarded the 1902 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, becoming the first British Nobelist. He began studying malaria in 1892. In 1894 he made an experimental investigation in India of the hypothesis of Alphonse Laveran and Patrick Manson that mosquitoes are connected with the propagation of the disease. After two and a half years' failure, Ross succeeded in demonstrating the life-cycle of the parasites of malaria in mosquitoes, thus establishing the hypothesis of Laveran and Manson. Later, in West Africa he found the species of mosquitoes which convey the deadly African fever.*TIS (He is most remembered for his work on malaria, but his greatest influence may have come from his development and publishing of a mathematical theory of epidemiology.)
The Royal Society has only two death masks in its archives, one of Isaac Newton , and one of Jeans.
In her autobiography, Joy Adamson (the author of Born Free) describes a tragic incident in 1946, when she visited her close friend Suzi Jeans, a concert organist and Sir James’s second wife. Adamson recounts how she was alone in a room with Jeans when he collapsed and died of coronary thrombosis, and describes seeing his face ’transformed by a spiritual radiance which I felt … expressed his genius’. She was so impressed that she suggested a death mask be made; this was kept by Suzi Jeans in her music room until it was deposited with the Royal Society by her son in 1993.
1989 Allen Shields worked on a wide range of mathematical topics including measure theory, complex functions, functional analysis and operator theory.*SAU
2005 Gordon Gould (17 Jul 1920, 16 Sep 2005) American physicist who coined the word "laser" from the initial letters of "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation." Gould was inspired from his youth to be an inventor, wishing to emulate Marconi, Bell, and Edison. He contributed to the WWII Manhattan Project, working on the separation of uranium isotopes. On 9 Nov 1957, during a sleepless Saturday night, he had the inventor's inspiration and began to write down the principles of what he called a laser in his notebook. Although Charles Townes and Arthur Schawlow, also successfully developed the laser, eventually Gould gained his long-denied patent rights. *TIS
Credits*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*TIS= Today in Science History
*Wik = Wikipedia
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History
*CHM=Computer History Museum