Thursday, 27 October 2011
On This Day in Math - Oct 27
It is the duty of every true Muslim, man and woman, to strive after knowledge.
Ulugh Beg [quoting the Hadith. Inscribed on his gate in Bukhara]
The 300th day of the year; 300 is a triangular number, the sum of the integers from 1 to 24. 300 is also the sum of a pair of twin primes (149 + 151). It is also the sum of ten consecutive primes, 300 = 13 + 17 + 19 + 23 + 29 + 31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47.
In 1780, the first U.S. astronomical expedition to record an eclipse of the sun observed the event which lasted from 11:11 am to 1:50 pm. The observers left about three weeks earlier, on 9 Oct from Harvard College, Cambridge, Mass., for Penobscot Bay, led by Samuel Williams. A boat was supplied by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts the four professors and six students. Although the U.S. was at war with Britain, the British officer in charge of Penobscot Bay permitted the expedition to land and set up equipment to observe the predicted total eclipse of the sun. The expedition was shocked to find itself outside the path of totality. They saw a thin arc of the sun instead of its complete obscuration by the moon. *TIS
1980 The first major network crash, the four-hour collapse of the ARPANET, occurred
The ARPANET, predecessor of the modern Internet, was set up by the Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Initially it had linked four sites in California and Utah, and later was expanded to cover research centers across the country.
The network failure resulted from a redundant single-error detecting code that was used for transmission but not storage, and a garbage-collection algorithm for removing old messages that was not resistant to the simultaneous existence of one message with several different time stamps. The combination of the events took the network down for four hours. *CHM
2011 EPL (Europhysics Letters) went beyond Earthly limits by publishing its first ever paper submitted from space: a landmark for both European and physics-based research. Concerned with the properties of complex plasma in almost zero gravity conditions, the paper represents collaborative research of 29 individual missions performed over the last 10 years by German and Russian researchers aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The experiments detailed in the paper were performed on the ISS in July 2010 by Alexander Alexandrovich Skvortsov and were submitted on 27 October 2011 by Skvortsov’s colleague, Sergey Alexandrovich Volkov, who remains on the ISS. IOP Blog
1678 Pierre Rémond de Montmort (27 Oct 1678 in Paris, France, 7 Oct 1719 in Paris, France) was a French mathematician who wrote an important work on probability. Montmort's reputation was made by his book on probability Essay d'analyse sur les jeux de hazard which appeared in 1708. The book, which is a collection of combinatorial problems, is a systematic study of games of chance and shows that there is important mathematics in this area.
Montmort collaborated with Nicolaus(I) Bernoulli and he was also a friend of Taylor. At a time of high feelings in the Newton-Leibniz controversy it says a lot for Montmort that he could be friends with followers of both camps.
In addition to those mentioned above, Montmort corresponded with Craig, Halley, Hermann and Poleni.
Montmort was elected to be a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1715, when he was on a trip to England. The following year he was elected to the Académie Royal des Sciences. *SAU
1798 Heinrich Ferdinand Scherk (27 Oct 1798 in Poznań, Poland - 4 Oct 1885 in Bremen, Germany) was a mathematician born in what is now Poland who discovered an important example of a minimal surface. Scherk discovered the third non-trivial examples of a minimal surface which appeared in his paper Bemerkungen über die kleinste Fläche innerhalb gegebener Grenzen published in Crelle's Journal. The first two examples, the catenoid and the helicoid (also called the screw surface), had been found by the Frenchman Jean Baptiste Marie Meusnier in 1776. The catenoid arises from rotating the catenary curve about a horizontal line. Scherk's result was certainly seen as a major breakthough and brought him considerable fame; two surfaces, Scherk's First Surface and Scherk's Second Surface, as they are named today, are studied in the paper. Scherk's doubly periodic surface is the first example of a complete, embedded, doubly periodic minimal surface. His minimal surfaces have recently been the basis of sculptures by the American artist Brent Collins who has based many of his works on Scherk's second minimal surface.
Another contribution by Scherk is still important today, namely his work on the distribution of the prime numbers. *SAU
1827 Pierre-Eugène-Marcellin Berthelot (27 Oct 1827, 18 Mar 1907 at age 79) was a French chemist and science historian and government official whose creative thought and work significantly influenced the development of chemistry in the late 19th century. He helped to found the study of thermochemistry, introduced a standard method for determining the latent heat of steam, measured hundreds of heats of reactions and coined the words exothermic and endothermic. Berthelot systematically synthesized organic compounds, including some not found in nature. His syntheses of many fundamental organic compounds helped to destroy the classical division between organic and inorganic compounds. *TIS
1890 Olive Clio Hazlett born (October 27, 1890 - March 8, 1974) was an American mathematician who spent most of her career working for the University of Illinois. She mainly researched algebra, and wrote seventeen research papers on subjects such as nilpotent algebras, division algebras, modular invariants, and the arithmetic of algebras. *Wik
1728 James Cook (27 Oct 1728; 14 Feb 1779) English seaman who was the first of the really scientific navigators. Captain Cook spent several years surveying the coasts of Labrador and Newfoundland. He observed a solar eclipse on 5 Aug 1766 near Cape Ray, Newfoundland. On the first of three expeditions into the Pacific (1768) he took Joseph Banks as the ship's botanist to study the flora and fauna discovered. (This practice of carrying a naturalist took place some 75 years before Charles Darwin's famous voyage.) Cook observed the transit of Venus on this voyage from the island of Tahiti on 3 Jun 1769. This would help scientists plot the distance between the sun to the earth. His geographical discoveries made him the most famous navigator since Magellan. He was killed by cannibal natives in Hawaii.*TIS
1856 Ernest William Hobson (27 Oct 1856 in Derby, England, 19 April 1933 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England) wrote the first English book on the measure theory and integration of Baire, Borel and Lebesgue. *SAU
1890 Olive Clio Hazlett (October 27, 1890 - March 8, 1974) was an American mathematician who spent most of her career working for the University of Illinois. She mainly researched algebra, and wrote seventeen research papers on subjects such as nilpotent algebras, division algebras, modular invariants, and the arithmetic of algebras.*Wik
1915 Robert Alexander Rankin (27 Oct 1915 in Garlieston, Wigtownshire, Scotland, 27 Jan 2001 in Glasgow, Scotland) studied at Cambrige University. His fellowship there was interrupted by his wartime work on rockets. He became Professor of Mathematics at Birmingham before moving to the professorship at Glasgow, a post he held for 27 years. His most important work was on Number Theory. He became President of the EMS in 1957 and 1978 and an honorary member in 1990. *SAU
1449 Ulugh Beg (22 Mar 1394- 27 Oct 1449) The only important Mongol scientist, mathematician, and the greatest astronomer of his time. His greatest interest was astronomy, and he built an observatory (begun in 1428) at Samarkand. In his observations he discovered a number of errors in the computations of the 2nd-century Alexandrian astronomer Ptolemy, whose figures were still being used. His star map of 994 stars was the first new one since Hipparchus. After Ulugh Beg was assassinated by his son, the observatory fell to ruins by 1500, rediscovered only in 1908. Written in Arabic, his work went unread by the world's next generation of astronomers. When his tables were translated into Latin in 1665, telescopic observations had surpassed them. *TIS
1845 Jean-Charles-Athanase Peltier (22 Feb 1785, 27 Oct 1845) French physicist who discovered the Peltier effect (1834), that at the junction of two dissimilar metals an electric current will produce heat or cold, depending on the direction of current flow. In 1812, Peltier received an inheritance sufficient to retire from clockmaking and pursue a diverse interest in phrenology, anatomy, microscopy and meteorology. Peltier made a thermoelectric thermoscope to measure temperature distribution along a series of thermocouple circuits, from which he discovered the Peltier effect. Lenz succeeded in freezing water by this method. Its importance was not fully recognized until the later thermodynamic work of Kelvin. The effect is now used in devices for measuring temperature and non-compressor cooling units. *TIS
1675 Gilles Personne de Roberval (8 Aug 1602- 27 Oct 1675) French mathematician who developed powerful methods in the early study of integration, writing Traité des indivisibles. He computed the definite integral of sin x, worked on the cycloid and computed the arc length of a spiral. Roberval is important for his discoveries on plane curves and for his method for drawing the tangent to a curve, already suggested by Torricelli. This method of drawing tangents makes Roberval the founder of kinematic geometry. In 1669 he invented the Roberval balance with an articulated parallelogram is now almost universally used for weighing scales of the balance type. He studied the vacuum and designed apparatus which was used by Pascal in his experiments and also worked in cartography. *TIS
1968 Lise Meitner (7 Nov 1878, 27 Oct 1968)Austrian physicist who shared the Enrico Fermi Award (1966) with the chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann for their joint research beginning in 1934 that led to the discovery of uranium fission. She refused to work on the atom bomb. In 1917, with Hahn, she had discovered the new radioactive element protactinium. She was the first to describe the emission of Auger electrons. In 1935, she found evidence of four other radioactive elements corresponding to atomic numbers 93-96. In 1938, she was forced to leave Nazi Germany, and went to a post in Sweden. Her other work in the field of nuclear physics includes study of beta rays, and study of the three main disintegration series. Later, she used the cyclotron as a tool. *TIS
1980 John Hasbrouck Van Vleck (13 Mar 1899, 27 Oct 1980) was an American physicist and mathematician who shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1977 with Philip W. Anderson and Sir Nevill F. Mott. The prize honoured Van Vleck's contributions to the understanding of the behaviour of electrons in magnetic, noncrystalline solid materials. *TIS
1999 Robert L. Mills (15 Apr 1927, 27 Oct 1999)American physicist who shared the 1980 Rumford Premium Prize with his colleague Chen Ning Yang for their "development of a generalized gauge invariant field theory" in 1954. They proposed a tensor equation for what are now called Yang-Mills fields. Their mathematical work was aimed at understanding the strong interaction holding together nucleons in atomic nuclei. They constructed a more generalized view of electromagnetism, thus Maxwell's Equations can be derived as a special case from their tensor equation. Quantum Yang-Mills theory is now the foundation of most of elementary particle theory, and its predictions have been tested at many experimental laboratories. *TIS
*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*TIS= Today in Science History
*Wik = Wikipedia
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History
*CHM=Computer History Museum