Wednesday, 16 November 2011

On This Day in Math - Nov 16

Ramanujan, the Chuck Norris of math,
~John D. Cook

The 320th day of the year; 320 is the maximum value of the determinant of a 10x10 binary matrix (all entries are either one or zero). (Students might explore all possible determinants of smaller matrices looking for a pattern)

In 1904, the first electron tube, a diode thermionic valve, was invented by John Ambrose Fleming. The valve consists of a carbon or tungsten filament lamp, to which is added a metal plate (insulated from the filament), and a connecting wire brought through the glass wall of the bulb to a third terminal outside. When battery current is applied to the filament making it incandescent, the space between the filament and the insulated plate will be found to conduct elecrons in only one direction. That means if the valve is connected in a circuit in with an oscillating current, its one-way conductivity will convert the oscillating current into a unidirectional current capable of actuating a telephone receiver. He notified Marconi in a 30 Nov 1904 letter.*TIS

In 1942, work began on an experimental atomic pile to investigate the world's first artificial nuclear chain reaction. In a makeshift lab underneath the University's football stands at Stagg Field, physicists and staffers, worked around the clock to built a lattice of 57 layers of uranium metal and uranium oxide embedded in graphite blocks. A wooden structure supported the graphite pile. The research would be an important contribution to the Manhattan Project, a secret wartime project to develop nuclear weapons, which initiated the modern nuclear age. Little more than two weeks later, on 2 Dec 1942, the first self-sustained nuclear chain reaction was achieved by Enrico Fermi and his team*TIS

1717Jean le Rond D'Alembert (16 Nov 1717, 29 Oct 1783) was abandoned by his parents on the steps of Saint Jean le Rond, which was the baptistery of Notre-Dame, qv in Section 7-A-1. Foster parents were found and he was christened with the name of the saint. [Eves, vol. II, pp. 32 33. Okey, p. 297.] When he became famous, his mother attempted to reclaim him, but he rejected her. *VFR Known for his work in various fields of applied mathematics, in particular dynamics. In 1743 he published his Traité de dynamique (Treatise on Dynamics). The d'Alembert principle extends Newton's third law of motion, that Newton's law holds not only for fixed bodies but also for free moving bodies. D'Alembert also wrote on fluid dynamics, the theory of winds, the properties of vibrating strings and conducted experiments on the properties of sound . His most significant purely mathematical innovation was his invention and development of the theory of partial differential equations. He published eight volumes of mathematical studies (1761-80). He was editor of the mathematical and scientific articles for Denis Diderot's Encyclopédie.*TIS

1823 Birthdate of Jakob Amsler (b.11 November 1823 - d. 3 January 1912)inventor, in 1854, of the polar planimeter, a device for measuring areas enclosed by plane curves. *VFR Tracing around the perimeter of a surface induces a movement in another part of the instrument and a reading of this is used to establish the area of the shape. The planimeter contains a measuring wheel that rolls along the drawing as the operator traces the contour. He was a mathematician, physicist, engineer and the founder of his own factory . Amsler was born on the Stalden near the village of Schinznach in the district of Brugg, canton Aargau, and died in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. His father was Jakob Amsler-Amsler (1779–1869).
On graduating from school in 1843, he went to the University of Jena and then to the University of Königsberg to study theology. At Königsberg he changed courses, deciding to focus on mathematics and physics after meeting the inspiring Franz Neumann. Among Amsler's fellow students at Königsberg were Gustav Robert Kirchhoff and Siegfried Heinrich Aronhold. Amsler gained his doctorate from Königsberg in 1848 and returned to Switzerland in the same year. In 1851 he became a Privatdozent at the University of Zürich and later in that year accepted a position as a mathematics teacher at the Gymnasium in Schaffhausen.*Wik Amsler set up a workshop in Schaffhausen in 1854 specially designed to produce his polar planimeter. Three years later he had given up al his other interests to concentrate fully on producing instruments in the workshop. His shop produced 50 000 such instruments during his lifetime. *SAU

1835 Eugenio Beltrami (November 16, 1835, Cremona – February 18, 1900, Rome) was an Italian mathematician notable for his work concerning differential geometry and mathematical physics. His work was noted especially for clarity of exposition. He was the first to prove consistency of non-Euclidean geometry by modeling it on a surface of constant curvature, the pseudosphere, and in the interior of an n-dimensional unit sphere, the so-called Beltrami–Klein model. He also developed singular value decomposition for matrices, which has been subsequently rediscovered several times. Beltrami's use of differential calculus for problems of mathematical physics indirectly influenced development of tensor calculus by Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro and Tullio Levi-Civita.*Wik

1886 Marcel Riesz (November 16, 1886 – September 4, 1969) was a Hungarian mathematician who was born in Győr, Hungary (Austria-Hungary). He moved to Sweden in 1908 and spent the rest of his life there, dying in Lund, where he was a professor from 1926 at Lund University. He was known for work on classical analysis, on fundamental solutions of partial differential equations, on divergent series, Clifford algebras, and number theory. Riesz was elected a member of Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1936.
He was the younger brother of the mathematician Frigyes Riesz. *Wik

1897 Josif Zakharovich Shtokalo (16 Nov 1897 in Skomorokhy, Sokal, Galicia (now Ukraine) - 5 Jan 1987 in Kiev, Ukraine) Shtokalo worked mainly in the areas of differential equations, operational calculus and the history of mathematics.
Shtokalo's work had a particular impact on linear ordinary differential equations with almost periodic and quasi-periodic solutions. He extended the applications of the operational method to linear ordinary differential equations with variable coefficients.
He is regarded as one of the founders of the history of Soviet mathematics and particularly of the history in Ukraine and articles about M Ostrogradski and H Voronoy, he edited the three volume collections of Voronoy's (1952-3) and Ostrogradski's works (1959-61), a Russian-Ukrainian mathematical dictionary (1960) and approximately eighteen other Russian-Ukrainian terminology dictionaries. *SAU

1922 IBM System/360 hardware designer Gene Amdahl is born in Flandreau, SD. The System/360 marked IBM’s transition from discrete transistors to integrated circuits, as well as its move to a focus on electronic computer systems rather than punch card equipment. Amdahl went on from IBM to found his own company, Amdahl Computer Corp., which was very successful in making the first IBM-compatible mainframe systems.*CHM

1672 John Wilkins was an English mathematician who was one of the founders of the Royal Society. He wrote on astronomy and mechanical machines.*SAU Wilkins is one of the few persons to have headed a college at both the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. He was a polymath, although not one of the most important scientific innovators of the period. His personal qualities were brought out, and obvious to his contemporaries, in reducing political tension in Interregnum Oxford, in founding the Royal Society on non-partisan lines, and in efforts to reach out to religious nonconformists. He was one of the founders of the new natural theology compatible with the science of the time.
He is particularly known for An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language in which, amongst other things, he proposed a universal language and a decimal system of measure not unlike the modern metric system.*Wik

1786 István Hatvani was a Hungarian mathematician who wrote a pioneering work on probability and statistics. Hatvani was the first Hungarian to present work on statistics. In Introductio ad principia philosophicae solidioris in 1757 he presents tables for the number of births in Debrecen for the years 1750 to 1753 inclusive. He records the number of children who died within a year of being born and, finding a mortality rate of 34.2% which was well above that in other European countries (around 19%), he seeks medical reasons to explain the findings. *SAU

1922 Max Abraham (26 Mar 1875, 16 Nov 1922) German physicist whose life work was almost all related to Maxwell's theory. The text he wrote was the standard work on electrodynamics in Germany for a long time. Throughout his life, he remained strongly opposed to Einstein's Theory of Relativity, objecting to its postulates which he felt were contrary to classical common sense. He further held that the experimental evidence did not support that theory. In 1902, he had developed a theory of the electron in which he held that an electron was a perfectly rigid sphere with a charge distributed evenly over its surface. He also believed in the ether theory, thought that future astronomical data would validate it, and thus relativity was not in fact a good description of the real world. *TIS

1982 Pavel Sergeevich Aleksandrov (25 Apr 1896, 16 Nov 1982) Soviet mathematician who made important contributions to the field of topology (the study of related physical or abstract elements that remain unchanged under certain distortions) and one of the founders of the theory of compact and bicompact spaces. Aleksandrov introduced many of the basic concepts of topology, such as the notion that an arbitrarily general topological space can be approximated to an arbitrary degree of accuracy by simple geometric figures such as polyhedrons. Giving support to international cooperation, he supervised the publication of an English-Russian dictionary of mathematical terminology (1962).*TIS

2002 Frank Smithies FRSE (10 March 1912 Edinburgh, Scotland – 16 November 2002 Cambridge, England) was a British mathematician who worked on integral equations, functional analysis, and the history of mathematics. He was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1961.*Wik

2007 Gene Howard Golub (February 29, 1932 – November 16, 2007), Fletcher Jones Professor of Computer Science (and, by courtesy, of Electrical Engineering) at Stanford University, was one of the preeminent numerical analysts of his generation.
Credits. *Wik

*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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