Wednesday, 19 October 2011
On This Day in Math - Oct 19
I am a great believer in the simplicity of things and as you probably know I am inclined to hang on to broad & simple ideas like grim death until evidence is too strong for my tenacity.
~Sir Ernest Rutherford
The 292nd day of the year; The continued fraction representation of pi is [3; 7, 15, 1, 292, 1, 1, 1, 2...]; the convergent obtained by truncating before the surprisingly large term 292 yields the excellent rational approximation 355/113 to pi *Wik
1752 Franklin described his kite experiment in a letter written in Philadelphia and addressed to Peter Collinson, who had earlier provided Franklin with some simple apparatus for performing electrical experiments. A copy of the original letter is at present in the archives of the Royal Society in London. *Julian Rubin web site
1759 Gauss writes,in a letter to his former teacher, E. A. W. von Zimmermann, when he showed up at the Göttingen University library, "I cannot deny, that I found it very unpleasant that most of my beautiful discoveries in indefinite analysis were not original. What consoles me is this. All of Euler's discoveries that I have so far found, I have made also, and still more so. I have found a more general, and, I think, more natural viewpoint; yet I still see an immeasurable field before me..." *Animating Creativity, The LaRouche Youth Movement web page.
1948 The National Bureau of Standards authorized construction of its Standards Western Automatic Computer. The machine, which would be built at the Institute for Numerical Analysis in Los Angeles, had an objective to compute using already-developed technology. This was in contrast to the machine’s cousin, the Standards Eastern Automatic Computer, which tested components and systems for computer *CHM
1965 The London Times reported that an archaeologist has located what he believes to be the tomb of Archimedes.*VFR
In 1973, a US Federal Judge signed his decision following a lengthy court trial which declared the ENIAC patent invalid and belatedly credited physicist John Atanasoff with developing the first electronic digital computer, the Atanasoff- Berry Computer or the ABC. Built in 1937-42 at Iowa State University by Atanadoff and a graduate student, Clifford Berry, it introduced the ideas of binary arithmetic, regenerative memory, and logic circuits. These ideas were communicated from Atanasoff to John Mauchly, who used them in the design of the better-known ENIAC built and patented several years later.*TIS
1795 Arthur Jules Morin (19 October 1795 – 7 February 1880) was a French physicist. He conducted experiments in mechanics and invented the Morin dynamometer.
In 1850, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. His name is one of the 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.*Wik (He was also the director of my favorite Paris Museum, Musee des Arts et Métiers.) In the issue of Nature which appeared on 5 February 1880 the following report appears:-
We regret to state that General Morin, the well-known director of the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers, is lying in a very precarious state in consequence of a severe cold. Great anxiety is felt for him at the Institute, of which he is one of the most respected and popular members. The General is aged 85 years. In the following issue of Nature, his death in Paris on 7 February was reported. *SAU
1871 John Miller (19 Oct 1871 in Glasgow, Scotland - 14 July 1956 in Victoria Infirmary, Glasgow, Scotland) studied at Glasgow and Göttingen. He returned to Glasgow to the Royal College of Science and Technology (the precursor to Strathclyde University). He became President of the EMS in 1913. *SAU
1903 Jean Frédéric Auguste Delsarte (October 19, 1903, Fourmies – November 28, 1968, Nancy) was a French mathematician known for his work in mathematical analysis, in particular, for introducing mean-periodic functions and generalised shift operators. He was one of the founders of the Bourbaki group.*Wik
1910 Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (19 Oct 1910; 21 Aug 1995) Indian-born American astrophysicist who (with William A.Fowler) won the 1983 Nobel Prize for Physics for formulating the currently accepted theory on the later evolutionary stages of massive stars. He was one of the first scientists to combine the disciplines of physics and astronomy. Early in his career he demonstrated that there is an upper limit, now called the Chandrasekhar limit, to the mass of a white dwarf star. A white dwarf is the last stage in the evolution of a star such as the Sun. When the nuclear energy source in the center of a star such as the Sun is exhausted, it collapses to form a white dwarf. Further, it shows that stars much more massive than the Sun must either explode or form black holes. *TIS
1586 Egnatio Danti was an Italian Dominican who made contributions to architecture, geography and astronomy.Finally, among Danti's publications, we mention Trattato del radio latino (1586) which is Danti's work describing his surveying instrument. This book appeared in the year in which Danti died. The other task he undertook just before his death was to travel to Rome, at the request of Pope Sixtus, to assist the architect Domenico Fontana, who had become architect to the papacy when Sixtus was elected, in moving the Egyptian obelisk from its place in the circus of the Vatican. The obelisk had been brought to Rome in the 1st century AD and Danti and Fontana erected it in 1586 where it now stands in the centre of St Peter's Square in the Vatican. After his return from this trip to Rome, Danti contracted pneumonia from which he died. *SAU
1875 Sir Charles Wheatstone (6 Feb 1802, 19 Oct 1875) English physicist who popularized the Wheatstone bridge, a device that accurately measured electrical resistance and became widely used in laboratories. He didn't actually invent the "Wheatstone Bridge". His contemporary, Samuel Hunter Christie, came up with the idea of the bridge circuit, but Wheatstone set the precedent for using it in the way in which it has been most commonly used. Over time, the device became associated with him and took on his name. He did, however, invent the concertina (1829), the stereoscope (1838), and an early form of the telegraph. He also developed a chronoscope (1842) to determine the velocity of projectiles at an English gunnery.*TIS (For students of discrete math, or interested in codes, Wheatstone was also the creator of the Playfair Cipher.)
1878 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
1890 Émile Léonard Mathieu (15 May 1835 in Metz, France - 19 Oct 1890 in Nancy, France) is remembered especially for his discovery (in 1860 and 1873) of five sporadic simple groups named after him. These were studied in his thesis on transitive functions.*SAU
1937 Sir Ernest Rutherford (30 Aug 1871, 19 Oct 1937) (baron) New Zealand-born British physicist who laid the groundwork for the development of nuclear physics. He worked under Sir J. J. Thomson at Cambridge University (1895-98). Then he collaborated with Frederick Soddy in studying radioactivity. In 1899 he discovered alpha particles and beta particles, followed by the discovery of gamma radiation the following year. In 1905, with Soddy, he announced that radioactive decay involves a series of transformations. In 1907, with Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden, he devised the alpha-particle scattering experiment that led in 1911 to the discovery of the atomic nucleus. In 1919 he achieved the artificial splitting of light atoms. In 1908 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. *TIS
1944 Denes König (21 Sept 1884 in Budapest, Hungary - 19 Oct 1944 in Budapest, Hungary) At Göttingen, König had been influenced by Minkowski's lectures on the four color problem. These lectures contributed to his growing interest in graph theory, on which he lectured in Budapest from 1911. His book, Theorie der endlichen und unendlichen Graphen, was published in 1936, and was a major factor in the growth of interest in graph theory worldwide. It was eventually translated into English under the title Theory of finite and infinite graphs (translated by R McCoart), Birkhauser, 1990; this also contains a biographical sketch by Tibor Gallai. König's work on the factorization of bipartite graphs relates closely to the marriage problem of Philip Hall. König's use of graphs to give a simpler proof of a determinant result of Frobenius seems to have led to some hostility between the two men.
After the Nazi occupation of Hungary, König worked to help persecuted mathematicians. This led to his death a few days after the Hungarian National Socialist Party took over the country. *SAU
1979 Marjorie Lee Browne (September 9, 1914 – October 19, 1979) was a notable mathematics educator, the second African-American woman to receive a doctoral degree in the U.S., and one of the first black women to receive a doctorate in mathematics in the U.S.*Wik
*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*TIS= Today in Science History
*Wik = Wikipedia
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History
*CHM=Computer History Museum