Monday, 27 February 2012

On This Day in Math - Feb 27

Andromeda Galaxy which Hubble measured to be 300,000 parsecs away.

Mathematical Knowledge adds a manly Vigour to the Mind, frees it from Prejudice, Credulity, and Superstition.
~John Arbuthnot

The 58th day of the year; 58 is the fourth smallest Smith Number. (Find the first three. A Smith number is a composite number for which the sum of its digits equals the sum of the digits in its prime factorization, including repetition. 58 = 2*29, and 5+8= 2+2+9.)Smith numbers were named by Albert Wilansky of Lehigh University. He noticed the property in the phone number (493-7775) of his brother-in-law Harold Smith.

1477 Founding of the University of Uppsala. A research university in Uppsala, Sweden, and is the oldest university in Sweden and Northern Europe. It ranks among the best universities in Northern Europe and is generally considered one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in Europe. Prominent students include Carolus Linnaeus , the father of taxonomy; Anders Celsius, inventor of the centigrade scale, and Niklas Zennström, co-founder of KaZaA and Skype. *Wik

In 1611, Johannes Fabricius, a Dutch astronomer, observed the rising sun through his telescope, and observed several dark spots on it. This was perhaps the first ever observation of sunspots. He called his father to investigate this new phenomenon with him. The brightness of the Sun's center was very painful, and the two quickly switched to a projection method by means of a camera obscura. Johannes was the first to publish information on such observations. He did so in his Narratio de maculis in sole observatis et apparente earum cum sole conversione. ("Narration on Spots Observed on the Sun and their Apparent Rotation with the Sun"), the dedication of which was dated 13 Jun 1611. *TIS

1665 Huygens writes letter to Robert Moray at the Royal Society asking him to pass on his "miraculous" observation of a synchronizing of his pendulum clocks. (See Feb 25). *Steven Strogatz, Synch
1890 Dedekind’s second letter to Keferstein. Hans Keferstein had published a paper on the notion of number with comments and suggestions for change of Dedekind's 1888 book. Dedekind first responded on February 9, and on February 14 and announced that he would push the publication by the "Society". It was in the letter of February 27 that Dedekind gives what is called, "a brilliant presentation of the development of his ideas on the notion of natural number." *Jean Van Heijenoort, From Frege to Gödel: a source book in mathematical logic, 1879-1931, pg 98 The text of the letter is available on-line at Google Books

1924, Harlow Shapley wrote replied to a letter from Edwin Hubble which presented the measurement of 300,000 parsecs as the distance to the Andromeda nebula. That was the first proof that the nebula was far outside the Milky Way, in fact, a separate galaxy. When Shapley had debated Heber Curtis on 26 Apr 1920, he presented his firm, life-long conviction that all the Milky Way represented the known universe (and, for instance, the Andromeda nebula was part of the Milky Way.) On receipt of the letter, Shapley told Payne-Gaposchkin and said “Here is the letter that has destroyed my universe.” In his reply, Shapley said sarcastically that Hubble's letter was “the most entertaining piece of literature I have seen for a long time.” Hubble sent more data in a paper to the AAS meeting, read on 1 Jan 1925. *TIS

1936 France issued a stamp with a portrait (by Louis Boilly) of Andr´e-Marie Amp`ere (1775–1836) to honor the centenary of his death. [Scott #306] *VFR

1942, J.S. Hey discovered radio emissions from the Sun. *TIS Several prior attempts were made to detect radio emission from the Sun by experimenters such as Nikola Tesla and Oliver Lodge, but those attempts were unable to detect any emission due to technical limitations of their instruments. Jansky first thought the radio signals he picked up from space were from the sun. *Wik

1989 In a review of Einstein–Bessso correspondence in the New Yorker, Jeremy Bernstein wrote: “In 1909, Einstein accepted a job as an associate professor at the University of Zurich, ... Einstein makes a familiar academic complaint—that because of his teaching duties he has less free time than when he was examining patents for eight hours a day.” *VFR

1547 Baha' ad-Din al-Amili (27 Feb 1547 in Baalbek, now in Lebanon - 30 Aug 1621 in Isfahan, Iran) was a Lebanese-born mathematician who wrote influential works on arithmetic, astronomy and grammar. Perhaps his most famous mathematical work was Quintessence of Calculation which was a treatise in ten sections, strongly influenced by The Key to Arithmetic (1427) by Jamshid al-Kashi. *SAU

1881 L(uitzen) E(gbertus) J(an) Brouwer (27 Feb 1881, 2 Dec 1966) was a Dutch mathematician who founded mathematical Intuitionism (a doctrine that views the nature of mathematics as mental constructions governed by self-evident laws). He founded modern topology by establishing, for example, the topological invariance of dimension and the fixpoint theorem. (Topology is the study of the most basic properties of geometric surfaces and configurations.) The Brouwer fixed point theorem is named in his honor. He proved the simplicial approximation theorem in the foundations of algebraic topology, which justifies the reduction to combinatorial terms, after sufficient subdivision of simplicial complexes, the treatment of general continuous mappings. *TIS He denies the law of the excluded middle. *VFR

1897 Bernard(-Ferdinand) Lyot (27 Feb 1897; 2 Apr 1952 at age 55) French astronomer who invented the coronagraph (1930), an instrument which allows the observation of the solar corona when the Sun is not in eclipse. Earlier, using his expertise in optics, Lyot made a very sensitive polariscope to study polarization of light reflected from planets. Observing from the Pic du Midi Observatory, he determined that the lunar surface behaves like volcanic dust, that Mars has sandstorms, and other results on the atmospheres of the other planets. Modifications to his polarimeter created the coronagraph, with which he photographed the Sun's corona and its analyzed its spectrum. He found new spectral lines in the corona, and he made (1939) the first motion pictures of solar prominences.*TIS

1910 Joseph Doob (27 Feb 1910 in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA - 7 June 2004 in Clark-Lindsey Village, Urbana, Illinois, USA) American mathematician who worked in probability and measure theory. *SAU After writing a series of papers on the foundations of probability and stochastic processes including martingales, Markov processes, and stationary processes, Doob realized that there was a real need for a book showing what is known about the various types of stochastic processes. So he wrote his famous "Stochastic Processes" book. It was published in 1953 and soon became one of the most influential books in the development of modern probability theory. *Wik

1942 Robert (Bob) Howard Grubbs (b. 27 February 1942 near Possum Trot, Kentucky, ) is an American chemist and Nobel laureate. Grubbs's many awards have included: Alfred P. Sloan Fellow (1974–76), Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (1975–78), Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (1975), ACS Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry (2000), ACS Herman F. Mark Polymer Chemistry Award (2000), ACS Herbert C. Brown Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods (2001), the Tolman Medal (2002), and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2005). He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1989 and a fellowship in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994. Grubbs received the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with Richard R. Schrock and Yves Chauvin, for his work in the field of olefin metathesis. *Wik

1735 John Arbuthnot (baptized 29 Apr 1667, 27 Feb 1735 at age 67), fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. In 1710, his paper “An argument for divine providence taken form the constant regularity observ’s in the bith of both sexes” gave the first example of statistical inference. In his day he was famous for his political satires, from which we still know the character John Bull. *VFR
He inspired both Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels book III and Alexander Pope's Peri Bathous, Or the Art of Sinking in Poetry, Memoirs of Martin Scriblerus. He also translated Huygens' "De ratiociniis in ludo aleae " in 1692 and extended it by adding a few further games of chance. This was the first work on probability published in English.*SAU

1867 James Dunwoody Brownson DeBow (1820 – February 27, 1867) was an American publisher and statistician, best known for his influential magazine DeBow's Review, who also served as head of the U.S. Census from 1853-1857.*Wik

1906 Samuel Pierpont Langley, (22 Aug 1834; 27 Feb 1906)American astronomer, physicist, and aeronautics pioneer who built the first heavier-than-air flying machine to achieve sustained flight. He launched his Aerodrome No.5 on 6 May 1896 using a spring-actuated catapult mounted on top of a houseboat on the Potomac River, near Quantico, Virginia. He also researched the relationship of solar phenomena to meteorology. *TIS

1915 Nikolay Yakovlevich Sonin (February 22, 1849 – February 27, 1915) was a Russian mathematician.
Sonin worked on special functions, in particular cylindrical functions. He also worked on the Euler–Maclaurin summation formula. Other topics Sonin studied include Bernoulli polynomials and approximate computation of definite integrals, continuing Chebyshev's work on numerical integration. Together with Andrey Markov, Sonin prepared a two volume edition of Chebyshev's works in French and Russian. He died in St. Petersburg.*Wik

1975 Hyman Levy (28 Feb 1889 in Edinburgh, Scotland - 27 Feb 1975 in Wimbledon, London, England )graduated from Edinburgh and went on to study in Göttingen. He was forced to leave Germany on the outbreak of World War II and returned to work at Oxford and at the National Physical Laboratory. He held various posts in Imperial College London, finishing as Head of the Mathematics department. His main work was in the numerical solution of differential equations. he published Numerical Studies in Differential Equations (1934), Elements of the Theory of Probability (1936), and Finite Difference Equations (1958). However, Levy was more than a mathematician. He was a philosopher of science and also a political activist. *SAU

*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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