Tuesday, 22 November 2011

On This Day in Math - Nov 22

Ulam Spiral

I believe there are
protons in the universe,
and the same number of electrons.
— Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington

1850 J J Sylvester called to the Bar. Rather than practicing law he gave private instruction in mathematics, and counted among his pupils Florence Nightingale. [Osiris, 1(1936), 102] *VFR (This idea of Sylvester tutoring Nightingale, to the best of my knowledge, originates from the Herbert Baker obituary. Karen Hunger Parshall, among others, has questioned the accuracy of this statement.)

1906 An International Radiotelegraphic Convention adopted the S.O.S radio distress signal, ... The Convention met in Berlin in 1906. This body signed an international agreement on November 3, 1906, with an effective date of July 1, 1908. An extensive collection of Service Regulations was included to supplement the Convention, and in particular Article XVI adopted Germany's Notzeichen distress signal as the international standard, stating: "Ships in distress shall use the following signal: · · · — — — · · · repeated at brief intervals".
The first well documented use of the SOS distress call is by the Arapahoe on August 11, 1909, when it suffered a broken shaft in the Atlantic Ocean, near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. However, an article titled "Notable Achievements of Wireless" in the September, 1910 Modern Electrics suggests that an earlier SOS distress call was transmitted by the Cunard liner Slavonia, on June 10, 1909.
[The wireless operator aboard S.S. Arapahoe, T. D. Haubner, radioed for help. A few months later, Haubner on the S.S. Arapahoe received an SOS from the SS Iroquois, the second use of SOS in America.(*TIS)]
The first radio distress call to be adopted appears to have been "CQD", by the Marconi International Marine Communication Company​, for Marconi-operated shipboard stations. It was announced on January 7, 1904 by the company's "Circular 57" that "...on and after the 1st February, 1904, the call to be given by ships in distress or in any way requiring assistance shall be 'C.Q.D.'." ("CQ" was a general call to all stations; amateur or "ham" radio operators still use it today when soliciting a contact with any station that hears the call.) *Citizens Compendium

1796 Charles Bonnycastle born. The University of Virginia's second Professor of Mathematics, Charles Bonnycastle, was born in Woolwich, England on 22 November 1796. His father, John, was Professor of Mathematics at the Royal Military Academy there, and so Charles grew up and received his education in an environment that very much influenced his own subsequent career. The contributions that the son made to the thirteenth edition of his father's textbook, Introduction to Algebra (1824), in fact, augmented the credentials he presented to Francis Walker Gilmer, agent for the newly forming University of Virginia.
Bonnycastle actually came to the University at its opening in 1825 as the first professor, not of mathematics, but of natural philosophy (as physics was then called). When Thomas Key, the first Professor of Mathematics, resigned to return to his native England, Bonnycastle shifted over to the mathematical chair and remained in that post until his untimely death on 31 October 1840 at the age of only forty-three. "Old Bonny," as he was fondly called by the students, moved away from what was increasingly becoming the antiquated synthetic approach to mathematical pedagogy that had been so typical of Oxbridge mathematical teaching in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and introduced the more avant-garde analytic approach of late eighteenth-century French authors such as Silvestre Lacroix. In 1834, he published his own textbook, Inductive Geometry, in which he aimed to unite the best of the synthetic and the analytic approaches to geometry for the college- and university-level audience. Bonnycastle also contributed works on mathematical and physical topics to the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, one of the few venues available in early nineteenth-century America for the publication of original work in the sciences.
Bonnycastle apparently also entrusted a number of mathematical papers to his friend, Princeton physics professor and (after 1846) first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Joseph Henry. Shortly before his death in 1878, Henry deposited these in the library at the University of Virginia. They did not survive the infamous Rotunda fire of 1895. *History of the U V Math Dept.

1803 Giusto Bellavitis (22 Nov 1803 in Bassano, Vicenza, Italy - 6 Nov 1880 in Tezze (near Bassano) Italy ) Bellavitis solved various mechanical problems by original methods, among them Hamilton's quaternions. He developed very personal critical observations about the calculus of probabilities and the theory of errors. He also explored physics, especially optics and electrology, and chemistry. As a young man, Bellavitis weighted the problem of a universal scientific language and published a paper on this subject in 1863. He also devoted time to the history of mathematics and, among other things, he vindicated Cataldi by attributing the invention of continued fractions to him. *SAU

1840 Émile Michel Hyacinthe Lemoine (22 Nov 1840 in Quimper, France - 21 Feb 1912 in Paris, France) Lemoine work in mathematics was mainly on geometry. He founded a
new study of properties of a triangle in a paper of 1873 where he studied the point of intersection of the symmedians of a triangle. He had been a founder member of the Association Française pour l'Avancement des Sciences and it was at a meeting of the Association in 1873 in Lyon that he presented his work on the symmedians.
A symmedian of a triangle from vertex A is obtained by reflecting the median from A in the bisector of the angle A. He proved that the symmedians are concurrent, the point where they meet now being called the Lemoine point. Among other results on symmedians in Lemoine's 1873 paper is the result that the symmedian from the vertex A cuts the side BC of the triangle in the ratio of the squares of the sides AC and AB. He also proved that if parallels are drawn through the Lemoine point parallel to the three sides of the triangle then the six points lie on a circle, now called the Lemoine circle. Its centre is at the mid-point of the line joining the Lemoine point to the circumcentre of the triangle. Lemoine gave up active mathematical research in 1895 but continued to support the subject. He had helped to found a mathematical journal, L'intermédiaire des mathématiciens., in 1894 and he became its first editor, a role he held for many years. *sau

1904 Louis-Eugène-Félix Néel (22 Nov 1904; 17 Nov 2000) French physicist, corecipient (with the Swedish astrophysicist Hannes Alfvén) of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1970 for his pioneering studies of the magnetic properties of solids. His contributions to solid-state physics have found numerous useful applications, particularly in the development of improved computer memory units. About 1930 he suggested that a new form of magnetic behavior might exist - called antiferromagnetism. Above a certain temperature (the Néel temperature) this behaviour stops. Néel pointed out (1947) that materials could also exist showing ferrimagnetism. Néel has also given an explanation of the weak magnetism of certain rocks, making possible the study of the past history of the Earth's magnetic field.*TIS

1784 Paolo Frisi (13 Apr 1728, 22 Nov 1784) Italian mathematician, astronomer, and physicist who is best known for his work in hydraulics (he designed a canal between Milan and Pavia). He was, however, the first to introduce the lightning conductor into Italy. His most significant contributions to science, however, were in the compilation, interpretation, and dissemination of the work of other scientists, such as Galileo Galilei and Sir Isaac Newton. His work on astronomy was based on Newton's theory of gravitation, studying the motion of the earth (De moto diurno terrae). He also studied the physical causes for the shape and the size of the earth using the theory of gravity (Disquisitio mathematica, 1751) and tackled the difficult problem of the motion of the moon. *TIS

1880 James Craig Watson (January 28, 1838 – November 22, 1880) was a Canadian-American astronomer born in the village of Fingal, Ontario Canada. His family relocated to Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1850.
At age 15 he was matriculated at the University of Michigan, where he studied the classical languages. He later was lectured in astronomy by professor Franz Brünnow.
He was the second director of Detroit Observatory (from 1863 to 1879), succeeding Brünnow. He wrote the textbook Theoretical Astronomy in 1868.
He discovered 22 asteroids, beginning with 79 Eurynome in 1863. One of his asteroid discoveries, 139 Juewa was made in Beijing when Watson was there to observe the 1874 transit of Venus. The name Juewa was chosen by Chinese officials (瑞華, or in modern pinyin, ruìhuá). Another was 121 Hermione in 1872, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and this asteroid was found to have a small asteroid moon in 2002.
He was a strong believer in the existence of the planet Vulcan, a hypothetical planet closer to the Sun than Mercury, which is now known not to exist (however the existence of small Vulcanoid planetoids remains a possibility). He believed he had seen such two such planets during a July 1878 solar eclipse in Wyoming.
He died of peritonitis at the age of only 42. He had amassed a considerable amount of money through non-astronomical business activities. By bequest he established the James Craig Watson Medal, awarded every three years by the National Academy of Sciences for contributions to astronomy.
The asteroid 729 Watsonia is named in his honour, as is the lunar crater Watson. *Wik
1907 Asaph Hall (15 Oct 1829; 22 Nov 1907) American astronomer, discovered and named the two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos, and calculated their orbits.Born in Goshen, Conn. and apprenticed as a carpenter at age 16, he had a passion for geometry and algebra. Hall obtained a position at the Harvard Observatory in Cambridge, Mass. in 1857 and became an expert computer of orbits. In August 1862, he joined the staff of the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. where he made his discoveries, in mid- Aug 1877, using the Observatory's 26-inch "Great Equatorial" refracting telescope, then the largest of its kind in the world. He stayed there 30 years until 1891. His son, Asaph Hall, Jr., followed him and worked at the Observatory at various times between 1882-1929.*TIS

1944 Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (28 Dec 1882, 22 Nov 1944) English astrophysicist, and mathematician known for his work on the motion, distribution, evolution and structure of stars. He also interpreted Einstein's general theory of relativity. He was one of the first to suggest (1917) conversion of matter into radiation powered the stars. In 1919, he led a solar eclipse expedition which confirmed the predicted bending of starlight by gravity. He developed an equation for radiation pressure. In 1924, he derived an important mass-luminosity relation. He also studied pulsations in Cepheid variables, and the very high densities of white dwarfs. He sought fundamental relationships between the prinicipal physical constants. Eddington wrote many books for the general reader, including Stars And Atoms
. *TIS

1986 Nikolai Grigor'evich Chudakov (14 Dec 1904 in Lysovsk, Novo-Burassk, Saratov, Russia - 22 Nov 1986 in Saratov, Russia) Chudakov established a number of important results in number theory. He gave an estimate for the bounds of the zeta-function in the critical strip using techniques which had been introduced a few years earlier by Vinogradov. As a consequence of this work he was able to give a substantially improved remainder term in the asymptotic formula for the number of primes less than a fixed number N. Also, by these method, he improved the estimate for the difference between two consecutive primes. In his later work he extended these results to apply to arbitrary arithmetic progressions. In 1947 Chudakov published On Goldbach-Vinogradov's theorem in the Annals of Mathematics. In this paper he proves Vinogradov's theorem that every large odd integer is representable as a sum of three odd primes. *SAU

1996 Garrett Birkhoff (January 19, 1911, Princeton, New Jersey, USA – November 22, 1996, Water Mill, New York, USA) was an American mathematician. He is best known for his work in lattice theory.During the 1930s, Birkhoff, along with his Harvard colleagues Marshall Stone and Saunders Mac Lane, substantially advanced American teaching and research in abstract algebra. During and after World War II, Birkhoff's interests gravitated towards what he called "engineering" mathematics. Birkhoff's research and consulting work (notably for General Motors) developed computational methods besides numerical linear algebra, notably the representation of smooth curves via cubic splines.
The mathematician George Birkhoff (1884–1944) was his father.*Wik

2007 Andrew Ronald Mitchell (22 June 1921 – 22 November 2007), popularly known as Ron Mitchell, was a British applied mathematician and numerical analyst. He was a professor of mathematics at the University of St Andrews, Dundee, Scotland. He was known for his contribution to the field of numerical analysis of partial differential equations in general and finite difference method and finite element method in particular. Mitchell has authored several influential books on numerical solution of partial differential equations, including "The Finite Element Analysis in Partial Differential Equations" with Richard Wait and "The Finite Difference Method in Partial Differential Equations" with David F. Griffiths.*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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