Sunday, 4 December 2011
On This Day in Math - Dec 4
Taking him for all and all, I think it will be conceded that Michael Faraday was the greatest experimental philosopher the world has ever seen.
The 338th day of the year; the last day of the year which will be twice a perfect square. 338 is the arithmetic mean of two triangular numbers.
1639 "On this day in 1639 Jeremiah Horrocks and were the first human beings to have recorded a transit of Venus. ... Moreover, Horrocks predicted the event from his own calculations, improving on Kepler’s ephemeris of Venus and the sun. Horrocks still used the old Julian calendar, which differed then by 10 days with the Gregorian calendar we use today. That is, to Horrocks the transit took place on November 24, (see my blog for that date) while in the rest of Europe it was already December 4." The image is from the same site . " It’s a mosaic showing Horrocks observing the transit of Venus, and a line from one of his own poems: His mortal eyes to scan the furthest heavens." *Transit of Venus
image by Mark Phillips
1679 Philosopher Thomas Hobbes died, thus ending his 25 year feud with John Wallis over Hobbes’s attempt to square the circle in 1655. It began when Hobbes called Wallis’s Arithmetica Inﬁnitorum a “scab of symbols”. *VFR
1985 Cray X-MP Supercomputer Begins Operation. The Cray X-MP/48 started operation at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. The X-MP was popular for generating computer graphics, especially for movies. It nearly doubled the operating speed of competing machines with its parallel processing system, which ran at 420 million floating-point operations per second, or megaflops. An even faster speed could be achieved by arranging two Crays to work together on different parts of the same problem. Other applications included the defense industry and scientific research.*CHM
In 1998, the space shuttle Endeavour and a crew of six blasted off on the first mission to begin assembling the international space station.*TIS
1795 Thomas Carlyle (4 Dec 1795 in Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland - 5 Feb 1881 in Chelsea, London, England) was a Scottish writer who was also interested in mathematics. He translated Legendre's work.*SAU
1886 Ludwig Georg Elias Moses Bieberbach (4 Dec 1886 in Goddelau, Darmstadt in Hessen, Germany - 1 Sept 1982 in Oberaudorf in Oberbayern, Germany) Born in Goddelau, near Darmstadt, he studied at Heidelberg and under Felix Klein at Göttingen, receiving his doctorate in 1910. His dissertation was titled On the theory of automorphic functions (German: Theorie der automorphen Funktionen). He began working as a Privatdozent at Königsberg in 1910 and as Professor ordinarius at the University of Basel in 1913. He taught at the University of Frankfurt in 1915 and the University of Berlin from 1921–45.
Bieberbach wrote a habilitation thesis in 1911 about groups of Euclidean motions – identifying conditions under which the group must have a translational subgroup whose vectors span the Euclidean space – that helped solve Hilbert's 18th problem. He worked on complex analysis and its applications to other areas in mathematics. He is known for his work on dynamics in several complex variables, where he obtained results similar to Fatou's. In 1916 he formulated the Bieberbach conjecture, stating a necessary condition for a holomorphic function to map the open unit disc injectively into the complex plane in terms of the function's Taylor series. In 1984 Louis de Branges proved the conjecture (for this reason, the Bieberbach conjecture is sometimes called de Branges' theorem). There is also a Bieberbach theorem on space groups.*Wik
1924 Frank Press (4 Dec 1924, )American geophysicist known for his investigations of the structure of the Earth's crust and mantle and the mechanics of earthquakes. Press pioneered the use of seismic waves to explore subsurface geological structures and for his pioneering use of waves to explore Earth's deep interior. In 1950, with William Maurice Ewing, a major innovator in modern geology at Columbia University, he invented an improved seismograph,and they published a landmark paper recognized as beginning a new era in structural seismology. While at Caltech (1955-65) and later MIT, Press became knownin public policy circles for his work on seismic detection of underground nuclear tests and for advocacating a national program for earthquake prediction capabilities. *TIS
1938 George Eyre Andrews (December 4, 1938 in Salem, Oregon) is an American mathematician working in analysis and combinatorics. He is currently an Evan Pugh Professor of Mathematics at Pennsylvania State University. He received his PhD in 1964 at University of Pennsylvania where his advisor was Hans Rademacher.
Andrews's contributions include several monographs and over 250 research and popular articles on q-series, special functions, combinatorics and applications. He is considered to be the world's leading expert in the theory of integer partitions. In 1976 he discovered Ramanujan's Lost Notebook. He is highly interested in mathematical pedagogy, and is a vocal critic of the "calculus reform" movement.*Wik
1131 Omar Khayyam (18 May 1048, 4 Dec 1131) Persian poet, mathematician, and astronomer. Khayyam, who was born at Nishapur (now in Iran), produced a work on algebra that was used as a textbook in Persia until this century. In geometry, he studied generalities of Euclid and contributed to the theory of parallel lines. Around 1074, he set up an observatory and led work on compiling astronomical tables, and also contributed to the reform of the Persian calendar. His contributions to other fields of science included developing methods for the accurate determination of specific gravity. He is known to English-speaking readers for his "quatrains" as The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, published in 1859 by Edward Fitzgerald, though it is now regarded as an anthology of which little or nothing may be by Omar. *TIS A nice blog with more detail about the Persian Polymath is at Galileo's Pendulum .
1574 Georg Joachim Rheticus (16 Feb 1514, 4 Dec 1574) Austrian-born astronomer and mathematician who was among the first to adopt and spread the heliocentric theory of Nicolaus Copernicus. He was first taught by his father, a physician, who was beheaded for sorcery in 1528, while Rheticus was still a teenager. He is best known as the first disciple of Copernicus. In 1540, Rheticus published the first account of the heliocentric hypothesis which had been elaborated by Copernicus, entitled Narratio prima, which was explicitly authorised by Copernicus, who also asked for his friend's aid in editing the edition of his De revolutionibus orbium coelestium ("On the revolutions of the heavenly spheres"). Rheticus was the first mathematician to regard the trigonometric functions in terms of angles rather than arcs of a circle.*TIS
The First Copernican: Georg Joachim Rheticus and the Rise of the Copernican Revolution
(I have seen his date of death also listed as the Dec 5th)
1798 Luigi Galvani (9 Sep 1737, 4 Dec 1798) Italian physician and physicist studied the structure of organs and the physiology of tissues who is best known for his investigation of the nature and effects of what he conceived to be electricity in animal tissue. He observed how frog muscles twitched when they were touched by metal contacts but he wrongly attributed this to innate "animal electricity" (the current was actually produced by the metal contacts). This was disputed by Alessandro Volta who, in the course of this argument, invented his electrochemical cell. The current produced by this device was for many years called galvanic electricity. The galvanometer was named after him.*TIS
1850 William Sturgeon (22 May 1783, 4 Dec 1850) English electrical engineer who devised the first electromagnet capable of supporting more than its own weight (1825). The 7-oz (200-g) magnet supported 9-lb (4-kg) of iron with a single cell's current. He built an electric motor (1832) and invented the commutator, now part of most modern electric motors. In 1836, he invented the first suspended coil galvanometer, a device for measuring current. Sturgeon also worked on improving the voltaic battery, developing a theory of thermoelectricity, and even atmospheric charge conditions. From 500 kite flights made in calm weather, he found the atmosphere is consistently charged positively with respect to the Earth, and increasingly so at increased height.*TIS
1893 John Tyndall (2 Aug 1820, 4 Dec 1893)British physicist who demonstrated why the sky is blue. His initial scientific reputation was based on a study of diamagnetism. He carried out research on radiant heat, studied spontaneous generation and the germ theory of disease, glacier motion, sound, the diffusion of light in the atmosphere and a host of related topics. He showed that ozone was an oxygen cluster rather than a hydrogen compound, and invented the firemans respirator and made other less well-known inventions including better fog-horns. One of his most important inventions, the light pipe, has led to the development of fibre optics. The modern light instrument is known as the gastroscope, which enables internal observations of a patient's stomach without surgery. Tyndall was a very popular lecturer. *TIS
1934 Sir Horace Lamb (27 Nov 1849, 4 Dec 1934) English mathematician who contributed to the field of mathematical physics. Topics he worked on include wave propagation, electrical induction, earthquakes, and the theory of tides. He wrote important papers on the oscillations of a viscous spheroid, the vibrations of elastic spheres, waves in elastic solids, electric waves and the absorption of light. In a famous paper in the Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society he showed how Rayleigh's results on the vibrations of thin plates fitted with the general equations of the theory. Another paper reported on his study of the propagation of waves on the surface of an elastic solid where he tried to understand the way that earthquake tremors are transmitted around the surface of the Earth.*TIS
1978 Samuel Abraham Goudsmit (11 Jul 1902, 4 Dec 1978) Dutch-born U.S. physicist who, with George E. Uhlenbeck, a fellow graduate student at the University of Leiden, Neth., formulated (1925) the concept of electron spin. It led to recognition that spin was a property of protons, neutrons, and most elementary particles and to a fundamental change in the mathematical structure of quantum mechanics. Goudsmit also made the first measurement of nuclear spin and its Zeeman effect with Ernst Back (1926-27), developed a theory of hyperfine structure of spectral lines, made the first spectroscopic determination of nuclear magnetic moments (1931-33), contributed to the theory of complex atoms and the theory of multiple scattering of electrons, and invented the magnetic time-of-flight mass spectrometer (1948).*TIS
*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*TIS= Today in Science History
*Wik = Wikipedia
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History
*CHM=Computer History Museum