**Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.**

~Hermann Minkowski

The 12th day of the year; 12 is the smallest abundant number (number whose proper factors add up to more than the number itself). It is also the largest number of spheres that may be in contact with a given sphere in 3-D (This is not trivial, Newton couldn't prove it). See Kissing Number.

**EVENTS**

**1721**John Hadley showed up at a meeting of the Royal Society with a reﬂecting telescope six feet long which magniﬁed 200 times and was made according to Newton’s plan. *VFR

1812 Thomas Jefferson writes to his old friend John Adams about his life after the Presidency, "I have given up newspapers in exchange for Tacitus and Thucydides, for Newton and Euclid; and I find myself much the happier." *Steven Strogatz, The Joy of X

1817 Thomas Young writes to Arago to explain his theory of transverse vibration to explain polarization. He had struggled for six years to find a way to explain polarization with a wave theory of light. *A history of physics in its elementary branches By Florian Cajori

**1820**Founding of the Royal Astronomical Society of England. Charles Babbage was one of the founding members. *Goldstine, The Computer from Pascal to von Neumann, p. 10 *VFR

**In 1896**, the first x-ray photograph in the U.S. was taken by Dr. Henry Louis Smith, a professor of physics and astronomy at Davidson College, Davidson, NC. It showed the location of a bullet in the hand of a corpse, using a 15 minute exposure. Immediately after he first heard of Roentgen's discovery in Germany, Smith obtained the hand of the corpse, and fired a bullet into it, for this experiment. In Feb 1896, he published this X-Ray photograph in the Charlotte Observer. He was subsequently elected president of Davidson College in 1901. In 1905, Smith established the first electric light plant in the town of Davidson.*TIS

**1898**Charlotte Agnes Scott wrote to to M. Carey Thomas: “I am most disturbed and disappointed at present to ﬁnd you taking the position that intellectual pursuits must be ‘watered down’ to make them suitable for women and that a lower standard must be adopted in a woman’s college than in a man’s.” At the time Scott, who received a “First Class” D.Sc. from the University of London in 1885, was a faculty member at Bryn Mawr. Thomas was president of Bryn Mawr and the ﬁrst American woman to earn a doctorate in any ﬁeld (linguistics from Zurich in 1882). *Women of Mathematics. A Biobibliographic Sourcebook (1987), edited by Louise S. Grinstein and Paul J. Campbell, 196-197 *VFR

**1924**The ﬁrst U.S. History of Science Society was organized in Boston “to encourage and maintain active interest in the history of science and the various sciences in particular.” The movement to form the society was begun by David Eugene Smith and today is the most important historical society in the world. *VFR

1997 The fictional HAL 9000 computer becomes operational, according to Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the 1968 movie adaptation, the computer's statement -- I am a HAL 9000 computer, Production Number 3. I became operational at the HAL Plant in Urbana, Illinois, on January 12, 1997 -- put his birthdate in 1992. Both dates have now passed with no super-intelligent, human-like HAL computer in sight. *CHM

**BIRTHS**

**1716 Antonio de Ulloa**(12 Jan 1716; 5 Jul 1795) Spanish scientist and naval officer who discovered the element platinum (atomic number 78). In 1735, the French and Spanish governments sent an scientific expedition to Peru and Equador to measure a degree of meridian at Quinto, close to the equator. Ulloa was one of the officers appointed to take charge of the expedition. In 1744, the ship on which he returned was captured by the British, and he was taken prisoner, though treated respectfully by the English naval officers for they "were not at war with the arts and sciences." The log of his voyage to Peru published in 1748 contains a description of platinum. He established the first museum of natural history and the first metallurgical laboratory in Spain, as well as the Cadiz observatory.*TIS

**1853 Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro**(12 Jan 1853; 6 Aug 1925) Italian mathematician instrumental in the development of the absolute differential calculus (also called the Ricci calculus), now known as tensor analysis. Ricci-Curbastro's early work was in mathematical physics, particularly on the laws of electric circuits and differential equations. He changed area somewhat to undertake research in differential geometry and was the inventor of the absolute differential calculus between 1884 and 1894. Ricci-Curbastro's absolute differential calculus became the foundation of tensor analysis and was used by Einstein in his theory of general relativity. As a councillor for his home town of Lugo, he was involved in many projects relating to the supply of water and to swamp drainage.*TIS

**1857 Knut Johan Angstrom**(12 Jan 1857; 4 Mar 1910) Swedish physicist, son of Anders Angstrom, who invented an electric compensation pyrheliometer and other devices for infra-red photography. With these, he studied the sun's heat radiation*TIS

**1896 David Wechsler**(12 Jan 1896; 2 May 1981) U.S. psychologist and inventor of several widely used intelligence tests for adults and children. During WW I, while assisting Edwin Garrigues Boring (1886-1968) in testing army recruits, Wechsler realized the inadequacies of the Army Alpha Tests (designed to measure abilities of conscripts and match them to suitable military jobs). He concluded that academically defined "intelligence" did not apply to "real life" situations. After leaving the military and more years of research, he developed the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, and introduced deviation scores in intelligence tests. He developed the Wechsler Memory Scale in 1945, Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (1949), and Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (1967).*TIS

**1903 Igor Vasilyevich Kurchatov**(12 Jan 1903; 7 Feb 1960) Soviet nuclear physicist who from 1932 conducted nuclear science research in the Soviet Union, during which time his team built a cyclotron, a proton accelerator and studied artificial radioactivity and neutron-proton interactions. During WW II, he was chosen as director for the development of his country's first atomic bomb, detonated 29 Aug 1949. Meanwhile, in Dec 1946, Kurchatov demonstrated a working prototype reactor, though limited to producing only a few watts and by Jun 1948, a plutonium production reactor. He subsequently produced the world's first practical thermonuclear bomb (1952). Before 1978, the Soviet name for element-104 was kurchatovium (Ku), though subsquently rutherfordium (Rf) became the accepted name. *TIS

**1906 Kurt Hirsch**(12 Jan 1906 in Berlin, Germany - 4 Nov 1986 in London, England) worked in various areas of Group Theory.*SAU

**1915 Herbert Ellis Robbins**(January 12, 1915 – February 12, 2001) was an American mathematician and statistician who did research in topology, measure theory, statistics, and a variety of other fields. He was the co-author, with Richard Courant, of

**What is Mathematics?**, a popularization that is still (as of 2007) in print. The Robbins lemma, used in empirical Bayes methods, is named after him. Robbins algebras are named after him because of a conjecture (since proved) that he posed concerning Boolean algebras. The Robbins theorem, in graph theory, is also named after him, as is the Whitney–Robbins synthesis, a tool he introduced to prove this theorem. The well-known unsolved problem of minimizing in sequential selection the expected rank of the selected item under full information, sometimes referred to as the fourth secretary problem, also bears his name: Robbins' problem (of optimal stopping).*WIK

**DEATHS**

**1665 Pierre de Fermat**, age 65, died without publishing a single mathematical work. However, because of his correspondence he was known as one of he best mathematicians in Europe. *VFR

(17 Aug 1601, 12 Jan 1665)French mathematician, often called the founder of the modern theory of numbers. Together with Rene Descartes, Fermat was one of the two leading mathematicians of the first half of the 17th century. He anticipated differential calculus with his method of finding the greatest and least ordinates of curved lines. He proposed the famous Fermat's Last Theorem while studying the work of the ancient Greek mathematician Diophantus. He wrote in pencil in the margin, "I have discovered a truly remarkable proof which this margin is too small to contain," that when the Pythagorean theorem is altered to read a

^{n}+ b

^{n}= c

^{n}, the new equation cannot be solved in integers for any value of n greater than 2. *TIS The quote in the margin is given this way by *SAU : "To divide a cube into two other cubes, a fourth power or in general any power whatever into two powers of the same denomination above the second is impossible, and I have assuredly found an admirable proof of this, but the margin is too narrow to contain it."

**1849 James Thomson**(13 Nov 1786 in Annaghmore, near Ballynahinch, Co. Down, Ireland - 12 Jan 1849 in Glasgow, Scotland) campaigned to reform Glasgow University. He wrote many textbooks. He was the father of Lord Kelvin.*SAU

**1909 Hermann Minkowski**(22 Jun 1864, 12 Jan 1909) German mathematician who developed the geometrical theory of numbers and who used geometrical methods to solve difficult problems in number theory, mathematical physics, and the theory of relativity. By 1907, Minkowski realised that the work of Lorentz and Einstein could be best understood in a non-euclidean space. He considered space and time, which were formerly thought to be independent, to be coupled together in a four-dimensional "space-time continuum". Minkowski worked out a four-dimensional treatment of electrodynamics. His idea of a four-dimensional space (since known as "Minkowski space"), combining the three dimensions of physical space with that of time, laid the mathematical foundation of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity.*TIS Minkowski had won his first cash prize at the age of 16 in his first semester at University in Berlin, but then gave the cash to a needy student and never mentioned it to friends or family(his family found out when told by the brother of the student who had received the money). At the age of 17 he set his eyes on the Grand Prix of the Paris Academy. The problem was to prove the the number of representations of a number as the sum of five squares. (Unknown to the committee the problem had been solved an published by H J S Smith When Smith wrote Hermite that he had published a general solutions several years earlier, Hermite acknowledged that the committee was unaware of his work, and asked him to spare them embarrassment by writing up his work and submitting for the prize. Smith agreed and published his work, but Hermite later admitted he forgot to notify the prize committee of the contact with Smith.) Minkowski, meanwhile had become so involved in the problem that he went on to extend and generalize his solution to the point that he neglected to translate his paper into French, as required by the rules. He submitted it anyway, with a short preface that indicated his neglect was due to his attraction to the topic. When the prize was awarded, Minkowski, still only eighteen was named as a co-winner with Smith, who had died in February. Minkowski died at noon on a Tuesday following an attack of appendicitis, and an operation on Sunday. It was the practice of his associates to walk and talk together each Thursday at 3pm, and so on Thursday January 14th, Klein, Hilbert, Runge and the other mathematics professors walked together to carry Hermann Minkowski to his grave, at exactly 3pm. *Constance Reid, Hilbert; pg 11

**1996 Bartel Leendert van der Waerden**(February 2, 1903, Amsterdam, Netherlands – January 12, 1996, Zürich, Switzerland) was a Dutch mathematician and historian of mathematics. Van der Waerden is mainly remembered for his work on abstract algebra. He also wrote on algebraic geometry, topology, number theory, geometry, combinatorics, analysis, probability and statistics, and quantum mechanics (he and Heisenberg had been colleagues at Leipzig). In his later years, he turned to the history of mathematics and science. His historical writings include Ontwakende wetenschap (1950), which was translated into English as Science Awakening (1954), Geometry and Algebra in Ancient Civilizations (1983), and A History of Algebra (1985).*Wik

**2001 William (Redington) Hewlett**(20 May 1913, 12 Jan 2001) was an American electrical engineer who co-founded the Hewlett-Packard Company, a leading manufacturer computers, computer printers, and analytic and measuring equipment. In 1939, he formed a partnership known as Hewlett-Packard Company with David Packard, a friend and Stanford classmate. (The order of their names was determined by a coin toss.) HP's first product was an audio oscillator based on a design developed by Hewlett when he was in graduate school. Eight were sold to Walt Disney for Fantasia. Lesser-known early products were: bowling alley foul-line indicator, automatic urinal flusher, weight-loss shock machine. The company's first "plant" was a small garage in Palo Alto, with $538 initial capital.*TIS

**2004 Olga Aleksandrovna Ladyzhenskaya**(March 7, 1922, Kologriv – January 12, 2004, St. Petersburg) was a Soviet and Russian mathematician. She was known for her work on partial differential equations (especially Hilbert's 19th problem) and fluid dynamics. She provided the first rigorous proofs of the convergence of a finite difference method for the Navier-Stokes equations. She was a student of Ivan Petrovsky. She was awarded the Lomonosov Gold Medal in 2002.*Wik

Credits

*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA

*TIS= Today in Science History

*Wik = Wikipedia

*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History

*CHM=Computer History Museum

*FFF=Kane, Famous First Facts