Saturday, 28 January 2012

On This Day in Math - Jan 28

Mathematical discoveries, like springtime violets in the woods, have their season which no human can hasten or retard.
~Janos Bolyai

The 28th day of the year; 28 is the second perfect number; the sum of its proper factors.
1699 Leibniz elected the first foreign member of the French Academy. *VFR

1902 "It is proposed to found in the city of Washington, an institution which...shall in the broadest and most liberal manner encourage investigation, research, and discovery [and] show the application of knowledge to the improvement of mankind..." — Andrew Carnegie, January 28, 1902
Established to support scientific research, today the CIW directs its efforts in six main areas: plant molecular biology at the Department of Plant Biology (Stanford, California), developmental biology at the Department of Embryology (Baltimore, Maryland), global ecology at the Department of Global Ecology (Stanford, CA), Earth science, materials science, and astrobiology at the Geophysical Laboratory (Washington, DC); Earth and planetary sciences as well as astronomy at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (Washington, DC), and (at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington (OCIW; Pasadena, CA and Las Campanas, Chile)).*Wik

1977 According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the most freakish rise in temperature ever recorded was on this date in Spearfish, South Dakota. At 7:30 a.m. it was −4 degrees Fahrenheit; at 7:32 a.m. it was +45 degrees Fahrenheit. What was the average rate of change in temperature per minute? [NCTM Sourcebook of Applications of School Mathematics, p. 125] *VFR
Some other temp changes from around the net show:
1972 The greatest temperature change in 24 hours occurred in Loma, MT. on January 15. The temperature rose exactly 103 degrees, from -54 degrees Fahrenheit to 49 degrees. This is the world record for a 24—hour temperature change.
1911 Fastest temperature drop: 27.2 °C (49 °F) in 15 minutes on Jan 10 in Rapid City, South Dakota,

1540 Ludolph van Ceulen, a German mathematician who is famed for his calculation of π to 35 places. In Germany π used to be called the Ludolphine number. Because van Ceulen could not read Greek, Jan Cornets de Groot, the burgomaster of Delft and father of the jurist, scholar, statesman and diplomat, Hugo Grotius​, translated Archimedes' approximation to π for Van Ceulen. This proved a significant point in Van Ceulen's life for he spent the rest of his life obtaining better approximations to π using Archimedes' method with regular polygons with many sides.*SAU He has Pi on his memorial stone.

1608 Giovanni Alfonso Borelli (28 Jan 1608; 31 Dec 1679) Italian mathematician, physiologist and physicist sometimes called “father of biomechanics.” He was the first to apply the laws of mechanics to the muscular action of the human body. In De motu animalium (Concerning Animal Motion, 1680), he correctly described the skeleton and muscles as a system of levers, and explained the mechanism of bird flight. He calculated the forces required for equilibrium in various joints of the body well before the mechanics of Isaac Newton. In 1649, he published a work on malignant fevers. He repudiated astrological causes of diseases and believed in chemical cures. In 1658, he published Euclidus restitutus. He made anatomical dissections, drew a diver's rebreather, investiged volcanoes, was first to suggest a parabolic path for comets, and considered Jupiter had an attractive influence on its moons.*TIS

1611 Johannes Hevelius (28 Jan 1611; 28 Jan 1687) German astronomer, who studying in Leiden and established his own observatory on the rooftops of several houses. From four years' telescopic study of the Moon, using telescopes of long focal power, Hevelius compiled Selenographia ("Pictures of the Moon", 1647), an atlas of the Moon with some of the earliest detailed maps. A few of his names for lunar mountains (e.g., the Alps) are still in use, and a lunar crater is named for him. Hevelius is today best remembered for his use of "aerial" telescopes of enormous focal length and his rejection of telescopic sights for stellar observation and positional measurement. He catalogued 1564 stars in Prodromus Astronomiae (1690), discovered four comets, and was one of the first to observe the transit of Mercury. He died on his birthday. *TIS You can find a nice blog about Hevelius, "The last great naked eye astronomer." by the Renaissance Mathematicus.

1622 Adrien Auzout (28 January 1622 – 23 May 1691) was a French astronomer.
In 1664–1665 he made observations of comets, and argued in favor of their following elliptical or parabolic orbits. (In this he was opposed by his rival Johannes Hevelius.) Adrien was briefly a member of the Académie Royale des Sciences from 1666 to 1668, and a founding member of the French Royal Obseratory. (He may have left the academy due to a dispute.) He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1666. He then left for Italy and spent the next 20 years in that region, finally dying in Rome in 1691. Little is known about his activities during this last period.
Auzout made contributions in telescope observations, including perfecting the use of the micrometer. He made many observations with large aerial telescopes and he is noted for briefly considering the construction of a huge aerial telescope 1,000 feet in length that he would use to observe animals on the Moon. In 1647 he performed an experiment that demonstrated the role of air pressure in function of the mercury barometer. In 1667–68, Adrien and Jean Picard attached a telescopic sight to a 38-inch quadrant, and used it to accurately determine positions on the Earth. The crater Auzout on the Moon is named after him. *Wik

1701 Charles Marie de La Condamine (28 January 1701 – 13 February 1774) was a French explorer, geographer, and mathematician. He spent ten years in present-day Ecuador measuring the length of a degree latitude at the equator and preparing the first map of the Amazon region based on astronomical observations. *Wik

1838 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

1855 William Seward Burroughs (28 Jan 1855, 5 Sep 1898) American inventor who invented the world's first commercially viable recording adding machine and pioneer of its manufacture. He was inspired by his experience in his beginning career as a bank clerk. On 10 Jan 1885 he submitted his first patent (issued 399,116 on 21 Aug 1888) for his mechanical “calculating machine.” Burroughs co-founded the American Arithmometer Co in 1886 to develop and market the machine. The manufacture of the first machines was contracted out, and their durability was unsatisfactory. He continued to refine his design for accuracy and reliability, receiving more patents in 1892, and began selling the much-improved model for $475 each. By 1895, 284 machines had been sold, mostly to banks, and 1500 by 1900. The company later became Burroughs Corporation (1905) and eventually Unisys. *TIS

1855 Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Rohn (January 25 1855 in Schwanheim - August 4 1920 in Leipzig ) was a German mathematician working mainly in geometry.
He studied under Alexander von Brill , who led him away from an initial engineering studies for mathematics; and in 1878 he received his doctorate in Munich under Felix Klein. His doctoral was on the Kummer surface of fourth Order and its relationship with hyperelliptic functions (with Riemann surfaces of genus 2). Besides his work on the Kummer surface, and other algebraic surfaces , he also examined algebraic space curves, and there completed the classification work of Georges Halphen and Max Noether. In 1913 he was president of the German Mathematical Society. *Wik His love of geometry is also illustrated by his beautiful thread models which were especially produced to excite the curiosity of the uninitiated. Rohn constructed models of surfaces and space curves that he was studying, particularly in the early part of his career. In 1884 the Jablonowski Society proposed as prize problem asking for essays on the general surface of order 4, extending the work of Schläfli, Klein and Zeuthen on cubic surfaces; they awarded the prize to Rohn for his essay in 1886. He made important contributions to the theory of quartic surfaces, in particular of ruled quartics and quartics with a triple point.*SAU

1888 Louis Joel Mordell (28 January 1888 – 12 March 1972) was a British mathematician, known for pioneering research in number theory. He was born in Philadelphia, USA, in a Jewish family of Lithuanian extraction. He came in 1906 to Cambridge to take the scholarship examination for entrance to St John's College, and was successful in gaining a place and support.
Having taken third place in the Mathematical Tripos, he began independent research into particular diophantine equations: the question of integer points on the cubic curve, and special case of what is now called a Thue equation, the Mordell equation

y2 = x2 + k.

During World War I he was involved in war work, but also produced one of his major results, proving in 1917 the multiplicative property of Ramanujan's tau-function. The proof was by means, in effect, of the Hecke operators, which had not yet been named after Erich Hecke; it was, in retrospect, one of the major advances in modular form theory, beyond its status as an odd corner of the theory of special functions.
In 1920 he took a teaching position in Manchester College of Technology, becoming the Fielden Reader in Pure Mathematics at the Victoria University of Manchester in 1922 and Professor in 1923. There he developed a third area of interest within number theory, geometry of numbers. His basic work on Mordell's theorem is from 1921/2, as is the formulation of the Mordell conjecture.
In 1945 he returned to Cambridge as a Fellow of St. John's, when elected to the Sadleirian Chair, and became Head of Department. He officially retired in 1953. It was at this time that he had his only formal research students, of whom J. W. S. Cassels was one. His idea of supervising research was said to involve the suggestion that a proof of the transcendence of the Euler–Mascheroni constant was probably worth a doctorate. *Wik

1892 Carlo Emilio Bonferroni (28 Jan 1892 in Bergamo, Italy - 18 Aug 1960 in Florence, Italy) His articles are more of a contribution to probability theory than to simultaneous statistical inference. He also had interests in the foundations of probability. He developed a strongly frequentist view of probability denying that subjectivist views can even be the subject of mathematical probability. *SAU He is best known for the Bonferroni inequalities, and gives his name to (but did not devise) the Bonferroni correction in statistics. *Wik

1903 Dame Kathleen Lonsdale (28 Jan 1903; 1 Apr 1971) British crystallographer (née Yardley) who developed several X-ray techniques for the study of crystal structure. Her experimental determination of the structure of the benzene ring by x-ray diffraction, which showed that all the ring C-C bonds were of the same length and all the internal C-C-C bond angles were 120 degrees, had an enormous impact on organic chemistry. She was the first woman to be elected (1945) to the Royal Society of London. *TIS

1911 Robert Schatten (January 28, 1911 – August 26, 1977) principal mathematical achievement was that of initiating the study of tensor products of Banach spaces. The concepts of crossnorm, associate norm, greatest crossnorm, least crossnorm, and uniform crossnorm, all either originated with him or at least first received careful study in his papers. He was mainly interested in the applications of this subject to linear transformations on Hilbert space. In this subject, the Schatten Classes perpetuate his name. Schatten had his own way of making abstract concepts memorable to his elementary classes. Who could forget what a sequence was after hearing Schatten describe a long corridor, stretching as far as the eye could see, with hooks regularly spaced on the wall and numbered 1, 2, 3, ...? "Then," Schatten would say, "I come along with a big bag of numbers over my shoulder, and hang one number on each hook." This of course was accompanied by suitable gestures for emphasis. *SAU

1924 Wilhelm Paul Albert Klingenberg (28 January 1924 Rostock, Mecklenburg, Germany – 14 October 2010 Röttgen, Bonn) was a German mathematician who worked on differential geometry and in particular on closed geodesics. One of his major achievements is the proof of the sphere theorem in joint work with Marcel Berger in 1960: The sphere theorem states that a simply connected manifold with sectional curvature between 1 and 4 is homeomorphic to the sphere. *Wik

1687 Johannes Hevelius (28 Jan 1611; 28 Jan 1687) German astronomer, who studying in Leiden and established his own observatory on the rooftops of several houses. From four years' telescopic study of the Moon, using telescopes of long focal power, Hevelius compiled Selenographia ("Pictures of the Moon", 1647), an atlas of the Moon with some of the earliest detailed maps. A few of his names for lunar mountains (e.g., the Alps) are still in use, and a lunar crater is named for him. Hevelius is today best remembered for his use of "aerial" telescopes of enormous focal length and his rejection of telescopic sights for stellar observation and positional measurement. He catalogued 1564 stars in Prodromus Astronomiae (1690), discovered four comets, and was one of the first to observe the transit of Mercury. He died on his birthday. *TIS

1864 Benoit Clapeyron (26 Feb 1799, 28 Jan 1864) French engineer who expressed Sadi Carnot's ideas on heat analytically, with the help of graphical representations. While investigating the operation of steam engines, Clapeyron found there was a relationship (1834) between the heat of vaporization of a fluid, its temperature and the increase in its volume upon vaporization. Made more general by Clausius, it is now known as the Clausius-Clapeyron formula. It provided the basis of the second law of thermodynamics. In engineering, Clayeyron designed and built locomotives and metal bridges. He also served on a committee investigating the construction of the Suez Canal and on a committee which considered how steam engines could be used in the navy.*TIS

1889 Joseph Émile Barbier (18 March 1839 in St Hilaire-Cottes, Pas-de-Calais, France - 28 Jan 1889 in St Genest, Loire, France)
He was offered a post at the Paris Observatory by Le Verrier and Barbier left Nice to begin work as an assistant astronomer. For a few years he applied his undoubted genius to problems of astronomy. He proved a skilled observer, a talented calculator and he used his brilliant ideas to devise a new type of thermometer. He made many contributions to astronomy while at the observatory but his talents in mathematics were also to the fore and he looked at problems in a wide range of mathematical topics in addition to his astronomy work.
As time went by, however, Barbier's behaviour became more and more peculiar. He was clearly becoming unstable and exhibited the fine line between genius and mental problems which are relatively common. He left the Paris Observatory in 1865 after only a few years of working there. He tried to join a religious order but then severed all contacts with his friends and associates. Nothing more was heard of him for the next fifteen years until he was discovered by Bertrand in an asylum in Charenton-St-Maurice in 1880.
Bertrand discovered that although Barbier was clearly unstable mentally, he was still able to make superb original contributions to mathematics. He encouraged Barbier to return to scientific writing and, although he never recovered his sanity, he wrote many excellent and original mathematical papers. Bertrand, as Secretary to the Académie des Sciences, was able to find a small source of income for Barbier from a foundation which was associated with the Académie. Barbier, although mentally unstable, was a gentle person and it was seen that, with his small income, it was possible for him to live in the community. This was arranged and Barbier spent his last few years in much more pleasant surroundings.
Barbier's early work, while at the Observatory, consists of over twenty memoirs and reports. These cover topics such as spherical geometry and spherical trigonometry. We mentioned above his work with devising a new type of thermometer and Barbier wrote on this as well as on other aspects of instruments. He also wrote on probability and calculus.
After he was encouraged to undertake research in mathematics again by Bertrand, Barbier wrote over ten articles between the years 1882 and 1887. These were entirely on mathematical topics and he made worthwhile contributions to the study of polyhedra, integral calculus and number theory. He is remembered for Barbier's theorem, nicely explained here by Alex Bogomolny.*SAU

1910 Alfredo Capelli (5 Aug 1855, Milan, Italy – 28 Jan 1910, Naples, Italy) was an Italian mathematician who discovered Capelli's identity.
Capelli graduated from the University of Rome in 1877, and moved to the University of Pavia where he worked as an assistant for Felice Casorati. In 1881 he became a professor at the University of Palermo, replacing Cesare Arzelà who had recently moved to Bologna. In 1886, he moved again to the University of Naples, where he held the chair in algebra. He remained at Naples until his death in 1910. As well as being a professor there, he was editor of the Giornale di Matematiche di Battaglini from 1894 to 1910, and was elected to the Accademia dei Lincei.*Wik

1946 Dmitrii Matveevich Sintsov (21 November 1867 – 28 January 1946) was a Russian mathematician known for his work in the theory of conic sections and non-holonomic geometry.
He took a leading role in the development of mathematics at Kharkov University, serving as chairman of the Kharkov Mathematical Society for forty years, from 1906 until his death at the age of 78.*Wik

1954 Ernest Benjamin Esclangon (March 17, 1876 – January 28, 1954) was a French astronomer and mathematician.
Born in Mison, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, in 1895 he started to study mathematics at the École Normale Supérieure, graduating in 1898. Looking for some means of financial support while he completed his doctorate on quasi-periodic functions, he took a post at the Bordeaux Observatory, teaching some mathematics at the university.
During World War I, he worked on ballistics and developed a novel method for precisely locating enemy artillery. When a gun is fired, it initiates a spherical shock wave but the projectile also generates a conical wave. By using the sound of distant guns to compare the two waves, Escaglon was able to make accurate predictions of gun locations.
After the armistice, Esclangon became director of the Strasbourg Observatory and professor of astronomy at the university the following year. In 1929, he was appointed director of the Paris Observatory and of the International Time Bureau, and elected to the Bureau des Longitudes in 1932. In 1933, he initiated the talking clock telephone service in France. He was elected to the Académie des Sciences in 1939.
Serving as director of the Paris Observatory throughout World War II and the German occupation of Paris, he retired in 1944. He died in Eyrenville, France.
The binary asteroid 1509 Esclangona and the lunar crater Esclangon are named after him.*Wik

1988 (Emil) Klaus (Julius) Fuchs (29 Dec 1911; 28 Jan 1988) was a German-born physicist who was convicted as a spy on 1 Mar 1950, for passing nuclear research secrets to Russia. He fled from Nazi Germany to Britain. He was interned on the outbreak of WW II, but Prof. Max Born intervened on his behalf. Fuchs was released in 1942, naturalized in 1942 and joined the British atomic bomb research project. From 1943 he worked on the atom bomb with the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, U.S. By 1945, he was sending secrets to Russia. In 1946, he became head of theoretical physics at Harwell, UK. He was caught, confessed, tried, imprisoned for nine of a 14 year sentence, released on 23 Jun 1959, and moved to East Germany and resumed nuclear research until 1979. *TIS

1993 Helen Battles (Sawyer) Hogg (1 Aug 1905, 28 Jan 1993) was a Canadian astronomer who located, cataloged and measured the distances to variable stars in globular clusters (stars with cyclical changes of brightness found within huge, dense conglomerations of stars located in the outer halo of the Milky Way galaxy). Her interest in astronomy was spurred when she witnessed a total eclipse of the sun in 1925. Alongside her career work, she was also foremost in Canada in popularizing astronomy, about which she wrote a column in the Toronto Star for thirty years. She was the first woman to become president of the Royal Canadian Institute. In 1989, the observatory at the National Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa was dedicated in her name.*TIS

2009 William Moser (5 Sep 1927;28 Jan 2009) My mathematical interests are: presentations for finite groups; combinatorial enumerations (e.g., counting restricted permutations and combinations); problems in discrete and combinatorial geometry. *From his page at McGill Univ.
In March 2003 Moser was interviewed by Siobhan Roberts who was working on her major work on Coxeter King of Infinite space. He recounted the following story

"Donald made many great contributions to mathematics. I made one great contribution," recounted Moser. Moser's opportunity came at the end of Coxeter's 1955 summer of roving lectures, after his session in Stillwater, at Oklahoma State University. Moser drove down to meet Coxeter and serve as his assistant, taking detailed notes of the well-polished lectures. "At the end of the summer we drove north, to civilisation," said Moser wryly. "We were in my car and Donald asked me if he could drive. It was a new car. Indeed it was the first car I had ever purchased, a green 1955 Plymouth 2-door. I paid $2,000 for it and drove it to Oklahoma. But I agreed. I was surprised to see that he was an aggressive driver. At one point he was trying to pass a car while driving up a hill on a 2-lane highway. I immediately perceived that this was not a prudent thing to do. He tried to coax the car to go faster but it wouldn't respond. At the last moment I shrieked at him, 'Pull back, pull back'. I was probably his only student to shriek at him. He began to pull back and at that moment a truck came over the hill. He managed to get back in the right lane just in time. I HAD SAVED HIS LIFE! And mine. But saving Coxeter's life was my greatest contribution to mathematics." *SAU

2012 Roman Juszkiewicz (born 8 August 1952, died 28 January 2012) is a Polish astrophysicist whose work is concerned with fundamental issues of cosmology.
Juszkiewicz's scientific interests include the theory of gravitational instability, origins of the large-scale structure, microwave background radiation and Big Bang nucleosynthesis. He wrote nearly one hundred research papers, mostly in the area of cosmology. Calculated results based on observed motions of pairs of galaxies, obtained in 2000 by Roman Juszkiewicz and the group led by him, aimed at estimating the amount of dark matter in the Universe, were confirmed by the recently published data from the South Pole's ACBAR detector. *Wik

*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
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