Tuesday, 10 January 2012

On This Day in Math - Jan 10

The sun comes up just about as often as it goes down, in the long run, but this doesn't make its motion random.
~Donald Knuth

The 10th day of the year; 10 balls can be arranged in the plane as a triangle, and in space as a tetrahedron.

1765 When Frederick the Great saw Lambert for the first time he exclaimed that the greatest blockhead had been suggested for his Academy. He based this opinion on Lambert’s strange dress and behavior, but later he saw the “immesurableness of insight" that Lambert possessed and so appointed him to the Academy on this date. *VFR

1844 George Boole submitted his first paper to the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. The council of the Royal Society almost rejected it without looking at it because the author was unknown. After considerable argument it was sent to two referees—thereby setting a precedent of refereeing papers. One referee rejected it, the other recommended a special prize. In 1844 this paper was the first mathematics paper to receive a gold medal from the Royal Society. *MacHale, George Boole, His Life and Work, p 61. (This seems to only be partly true. I find the following in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: "In 1841 Boole also published his first paper on invariants, a paper that would strongly influence Eisenstein, Cayley, and Sylvester to develop the subject. Arthur Cayley​ (1821–1895), the future Sadlerian Professor in Cambridge and one of the most prolific mathematicians in history, wrote his first letter to Boole in 1844, complimenting him on his excellent work on invariants. He became a close personal friend, one who would go to Lincoln to visit and stay with Boole in the years before Boole moved to Cork, Ireland. In 1842 Boole started a correspondence with Augustus De Morgan​ (1806–1871) that initiated another lifetime friendship. In 1843 the schoolmaster Boole finished a lengthy paper on differential equations, combining an exponential substitution and variation of parameters with the separation of symbols method. The paper was too long for the CMJ—Gregory, and later De Morgan, encouraged him to submit it to the Royal Society. The first referee rejected Boole's paper, but the second recommended it for the Gold Medal for the best mathematical paper written in the years 1841–1844, and this recommendation was accepted." )

1854 Riemann presents a paper to the philosophical faculty at G¨ottingen in which he challenged the mathematical world to redefine the concept of infinity to be either endless or unbounded. [George Martin, Foundation of Geometry and the Non-Euclidean Plane, Intext, 1975, p. 311] *VFR

1942 Peter Hilton arrived at Bletchley Park where he was greeted by the question “Do you play chess?” The “somewhat strange individual” who asked the question was the logician Alan Turing. Thus much of Hilton’s first day of war service was spent solving a chess problem. The group of pure mathematicians at Bletchley Park was involved in breaking German codes during WW II. (Peter Hilton, “Reminiscences of Bletchley Park, 1942–1945,” pp. 291–301 in A Century of Mathematics in America, Part I, especially p. 292.) *VFR

In 1946, the U.S. Army Project Diana team detected radar signals reflected off the moon's surface. A 180 cycle wave pulse with a 1/4 sec duration was beamed by the Army Signal Corps from the Evans Signal Laboratories, Belmar, N.J. The echo was received 2.4 sec. later, proving that radio waves could penetrate Earth's atmosphere. The experiment was supervised by Lt. Col. John H. De Witt, the broadcasting pioneer and amateur astronomer who first came up with the idea in 1940. His early amateur attempts were unsuccessful, but his chance came a few years later, after WW II, courtesy of the U.S. Army, at the Signal Corps Laboratories. During the war, he had developed radar for locating mortars and directing counterfire.*TIS

1991 Here is one for those of you who have always distrusted statistics: “... according to a study conducted by Caroline Nielsen of the University of Connecticut. She followed 10 women who joined an expensive health club and another 10 who joined a ‘simple’ club; after three months, 63 percent of those who joined the no-frills club improved in fitness, compared with 25 percent for those at the luxury club.” “It must be a joke, but I just don’t get it.” writes (on the computer net) Richard Griffith of Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, who found it in the Globe and Mail, page A18, Social Studies, Gyms: Less is More. *VFR

1573 Simon Marius (10 Jan 1573; 26 Dec 1624) (Also known as Simon Mayr) German astronomer, pupil of Tycho Brahe, one of the earliest users of the telescope and the first in print to make mention the Andromeda nebula (1612). He studied and named the four largest moons of Jupiter as then known: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto (1609) after mythological figures closely involved in love with Jupiter. Although he may have made his discovery independently of Galileo, when Marius claimed to have discovered these satellites of Jupiter (1609), in a dispute over priority, it was Galileo who was credited by other astronomers. However, Marius was the first to prepare tables of the mean periodic motions of these moons. He also observed sunspots in 1611. *TIS

1875 Issai Schur (10 Jan 1875 in Mogilev, Russian Empire (now Belarus) - 10 Jan 1941 in Tel Aviv, Palestine (now Israel)) is mainly known for his fundamental work on the representation theory of groups but he also worked in number theory and analysis.*SAU

1905 Ruth Moufang (10 Jan 1905 in Darmstadt, Germany - 26 Nov 1977 in Frankfurt, Germany) Moufang studied projective planes, introducing Moufang planes and non-associative systems called Moufang loops. *SAU

1906 Grigore Constantin Moisil (10 January 1906 in Tulcea, Romania – 21 May 1973 in Ottawa, Canada) was a Romanian mathematician, computer pioneer, and member of the Romanian Academy. His research was mainly in the fields of mathematical logic, (Łukasiewicz-Moisil algebra), Algebraic logic, MV-algebra, algebra and differential equations. He is viewed as the father of computer science in Romania.*wik

1936 Robert Woodrow Wilson (10 Jan 1936, ) American radio astronomer who shared, with his coworker Arno Penzias, the 1978 Nobel Prize for Physics for their discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation using a microwave horn antenna at Bell Laboratories, Holmdel, New Jersey. Their discovery in 1964 is now widely interpreted as being the remnant radiation from the "big bang" model for the creation of the universe several billion years ago. Wilson is continuing his astrophysics work with Penzias, looking for interstellar molecules and determining the relative abundances of interstellar isotopes. (Soviet physicist Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitsa also shared the Nobel award, for unrelated research.)*TIS

1938 Donald Ervin Knuth, born, best known for his ongoing multi-volume book series The Art of Computer Programming. Knuth's books provide surveys of the software field, comparing algorithms for performing some of the most fundamental computer science procedures. The book project, which is expected to last his entire lifetime, was born out of a desire to eliminate duplication of effort by programmers. Knuth also took a decade-long diversion from the book series to create the language TeX, when he received galley-proofs of one of his books and noticed how poor the state of technical typesetting was. Knuth has based much of his writing on his theory that programming a computer is an art form, like the creation of poetry or music. He received the 1980 Computer Society Pioneer Award.*CHM

1949 Ann Watkins born in Los Angeles. Today she is professor at Los Angeles Pierce College and editor of The College Mathematics Journal. Of her first love, teaching, she says: “It’s often said that the best way to learn something is to teach it. That’s certainly true about mathematics. If you can get the math clear enough in your heat to explain it to someone else, either orally or in writing, then you’ve really ‘got it’.” [Quoted from Karl J. Smith, The Nature of Mathematics, sixth edition, 1991, p. 646.] *VFR

1833 Adrien-Marie Legendre (18 Sep 1752, 10 Jan 1833) French mathematician who contributed to number theory, celestial mechanics and elliptic functions. In 1794, he was put in charge of the French government's department that was standardizing French weights and measures. In 1813, he took over as head of the Bureau des Longitudes upon the death of Lagrange, its former chief. It was in a paper on celestial mechanics concerning the motion of planets (1784) that he first introduced the Legendre Polynomials. His provided outstanding work on elliptic functions (1786), and his classic treatise on the theory of numbers (1798) and also worked on the method of least squares.*TIS

1864 Nicholas Joseph Callan (22 Dec 1799, 10 Jan 1864) Irish pioneering scientist in electrical science, who invented the induction coil (1836) before that of better-known Heinrich Ruhmkorff. Callan's coil was built using a horseshoe shaped iron bar wound with a secondary coil of thin insulated wire under a separate winding of thick insulated wire as the "primary" coil. Each time a battery's current through the "primary" coil was interrupted, a high voltage current was produced in the electrically separate "secondary" coil. By 1837, Callan used a clock mechanism to rock a wire in and out of a small cup of mercury to interrupt the circuit 20 times/sec on a giant induction machine, producing 15-inch sparks (estimated at 600,000 volts).*TIS

1919 Wallace Clement Ware Sabine (13 Jun 1868, 10 Jan 1919) was a U.S. physicist who founded the science of architectural acoustics. After experimenting in the Fogg lecture room at Harvard, to investigate the effect of absorption on the reverberation time, on 29 of October 1898 he discovered the type of relation between these quantities. The duration T of the residual sound to decay below the audible intensity, starting from a 1,000,000 times higher initial intensity is given by: T = 0.161 V/A (V=room volume in m3, A=total absorption in m2). The first auditorium Sabine designed applying his new insight in acoustics, was the new Boston Music Hall, formally opened on 15 Oct 1900. Now known as the Symphony Hall, and still considered one of the world's three finest concert halls.*TIS

1929 Karl Heun (3 April 1859 in Wiesbaden, Germany - 10 Jan 1929 in Karlsruhe, Germany) was a German mathematician best known for the Heun differential equation which generalises the hypergeometric differential equation. *SAU

1941 Issai Schur (10 Jan 1875 in Mogilev, Russian Empire (now Belarus) - 10 Jan 1941 in Tel Aviv, Palestine (now Israel))is mainly known for his fundamental work on the representation theory of groups but he also worked in number theory and analysis.*SAU

1944 Thomas Scott Fiske​ (12 May 1865 in New York - 10 Jan 1944 in Poughkeepsie, New York) was an American mathematician. He was born in New York City and graduated in 1885 (Ph.D., 1888) from Columbia University, where he was a fellow, assistant, tutor, instructor, and adjunct professor until 1897, when he became professor of mathematics. In 1899 he was acting dean of Barnard College. He was president in 1902–04 of the American Mathematical Society, and he also edited the Bulletin (1891–99) and Transactions (1899-1905) of this society. In 1902 he became secretary of the College Entrance Examination Board. In 1905–06 he also served as president of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics of the Middle States and Maryland. Besides his mathematical papers, he was author of Theory of Functions of a Complex Variable (1906; fourth edition, 1907)*Wik

1984 Lancelot Stephen Bosanquet (26 Dec 1903 in St. Stephen's-by-Saltash, Cornwall, England - 10 Jan 1984 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England) Bosanquet wrote many papers on the convergence and summability of Fourier series. He also wrote on the convergence and summability of Dirichlet series and studied specific kinds of summability such as summability factors for Cesàro means. His later work on integrals include two major papers on the Laplace-Stieltjes integral published in 1953 and 1961. Other topics he studied included inequalities, mean-value theorems, Tauberian theorems, and convexity theorems. *SAU

*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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