Saturday, 10 March 2012

On This Day in Math - March 10

Rings of Uranus from Voyager 2, *

The calculus is the greatest aid we have to the application of physical truth in the broadest sense of the word.
~William F Osgood

The 70th day of the year; 70 is the smallest "Weird" number. It is abundant (the sum of it's proper divisors are greater than 70) but not a pseudoperfect (no subset of the divisors total to 70). (There is only one more below 1000... can you find it?)
1615 Henry Briggs was completely engaged in the study of logarithms by this date for he wrote “Neper, lord of Markinston, hath set my head and hands a work with his new and admirable logarithms. I hope to see him this summer, if it please God, for I never saw a book, which pleased me better, and made me more wonder.” *VFR

1625 Henry Briggs writes to Kepler that work was underway to edit Thomas Harriot’s papers, “since we may expect and hope for a posthumous book from that author any day”. *Thomas Harriot’s Doctrine of Triangular Numbers, Beery & Stedall, pg 28

1672 From Hooke's Journal: Hooke’s first weather report was for Sunday 10 March 1672"[mercury] fell from 170 to 185. most part of ye Day cleer but cold & somewhat windy at the South–[I was this morning better with my cold then I had been 3 months before] [moon] apogeum–It grew cloudy about 4. [mercury] falling still"
Instead of writing the words ‘mercury’ and ‘moon’ (transcribed in square brackets here), Hooke depicted them with their astrological symbols ☿ and ☽ as a kind of shorthand. *felicityhen, Hooke's
1763 E812. Read before the Academy of Berlin 10 March 1763 but only published posthumously in 1862. "Reflexions sur une espese singulier de loterie nommée loterie genoise." Opera postuma I, 1862, p. 319–335. The paper determined the probability that a particular number be drawn in a lottery.
Euler's interest in lotteries began at the latest in 1749 when he was commissioned by Frederick the Great to render an opinion on a proposed lottery. The first of two letters began 15 September 1749. A second series began on 17 August 1763. *Ed Sandifer, How Euler Did It

1773 Laplace introduces inverse probability. *Springer’s 1985 Statistics Calendar

1797 The surveyor Caspar Wessel presented his one and only mathematics paper to the Danish Academy of Sciences. It established his priority in publishing a geometrical representation of complex numbers. The paper was essentially unknown until 1895 when Christian Juel pointed out its significance. *VFR (this paper introduced what are now often called Argand Diagrams) He represented complex numbers as points in a Cartesian plane, with the real portion of the number on the x axis and the imaginary part on the y axis. This was also independently devised a few years later, by Jean-Robert Argand, an amateur mathematician who self-published his ideas in an anomymous monograph (1806). Through publicity generated when Argand came forward and identified himself as the author, it was his name that has the lasting association with the Argand diagram

1812 Jean Jacques Bret became docteur d´es sciences, having previously been professor of transcen-dental mathematics at the lyc´ee in Grenoble. Later he was involved in a prolonged polemic with J. B. E. Dubourguet concerning the fundamental theorem of algebra. *VFR

1926 Amazing Stories was the first magazine devoted solely to science fiction. Before Amazing, science fiction stories had made regular appearances in other magazines, including some published by Gernsback, but Amazing helped define and launch a new genre of pulp fiction.The first issue appeared on 10 March 1926, with a cover date of April 1926. *Wik

1977 Rings of Planet Uranus discovered. The rings of Uranus were discovered by James L. Elliot, Edward W. Dunham, and Douglas J. Mink. More than 200 years ago, William Herschel also reported observing rings (in 1789); some modern astronomers are skeptical that he could have actually seen them, as they are very dark and faint – others are not.See March 4, 1979. In 1977, the rings of Uranus were discovered from earth by stellar occultation experiments made when Uranus occulted (passed in front of) a star and it was noticed that there were dips in the brightness of the star before and after it passed behind the body of Uranus. This data suggested that Uranus was surrounded by at least five rings. Four more rings were suggested by subsequent occultation measurements from the Earth, and two additional ones were found by space probe Voyager 2, bringing the total to 11. *TIS

1981 Czechoslovakia issued a stamp picturing the philosopher/mathematician Bernhard Bolzano (1781–1848). [Scott #2352] *VFR

In 1982, a syzygy occurred when all nine planets aligned on the same side of the Sun. The planets are spread out over 98 degrees on this date. The four major planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, span an arc of some 73 degrees. *TIS The next "grand" syzygy is May 19, 2161, when eight planets (excluding Pluto) will be found within 69 degrees of each other, according to astronomers at the Kitt Peak National Observatory.

1622 Johann Heinrich Rahn (10 March 1622 in Zürich, Switzerland - 25 May 1676 in Zürich, Switzerland) mathematician who was the first to use the symbol "÷",called an obelus, for a division symbol in Teutsche Algebra (1659). The invention is also sometimes credited to British Mathematician John Pell. Here is more on the various symbols used for division .

1748 John Playfair (10 Mar 1748; 20 Jul 1819 at age 71) Scottish mathematician, He is responsible for introducing (although we now know that it was known to Proclus in the fifth century) the commonly used equivalent of Euclid’s Fifth Postulate: Through a given point not on a given straight line only one line parallel to the given line may be drawn. *VFR His Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory of the Earth (1802) gave strong support to James Hutton's principle of uniformitarianism, essential to a proper understanding of geology. Playfair was the first scientist to recognise that a river cuts its own valley, and he cited British examples of the gradual, fluvial origins of valleys, to challenge the catastrophic theory (based on the Biblical Flood in Genesis) that was still widely accepted. He was also the first to link the relocation of loose rocks to the movement of glaciers. Playfair published texts on geometry, physics, and astronomy.*TIS

1762 Jeremias Benjamin Richter (10 Mar 1762; 4 Apr 1807 at age 45) was a German chemist who discovered law of equivalent proportions. He studied chemistry in his spare time while in the Prussian army (1778-1785) and afterwards while earning a Ph.D. in mathematics (1789). Richter was much influenced by Kant, whose lectures he may have attended, in the contention that science is applied mathematics. Richter looked for mathematical relationships in chemisty, convinced that substances reacted with each other in fixed proportions. He showed such a relationship when acids and bases neutralize to produce salts (1791). Thus he was the first to establish stoichiometry, which became the basis of quantitative chemical analysis. He died of tuberculosis at age 45 years.*TIS

1818 JOEL E. HENDRICKS, (March 10, 1818 - June 9, 1893) a noted mathematician, was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, March 10, 1818. He early developed a love of mathematics and began to teach school at nineteen years of age. He chanced to procure Moore's Navigation and Ostrander's Astronomy and, without instruction, soon became able to work in trigonometry and calculate solar and lunar eclipses. He took up algebra while teaching and soon became master of that science without instruction. He taught mathematics two years in Neville Academy, Ohio, and then occupied a position on a Government survey in Colorado in 1861. In 1864 he located in Des Moines, Iowa and pursued his mathematical studies. In 1874 he began the publication of the Analyst, a journal of pure and applied mathematics and soon won a reputation in Europe among eminent scholars as one of the most advanced mathematicians of the day. His Analyst was taken by the colleges and universities of Europe and found a place in the best foreign libraries. His name became famous among all mathematical experts of the world. Among his correspondents were Benjamin Silliman, John W. Draper and James D. Dana; while his journal was authority at Yale and Johns Hopkins Universities. For ten years, up to 1884, this world-famous Analyst was published at Des Moines by Dr. Joel E. Hendricks. Up to the time it was discontinued, no journal of mathematics had been published so long in America. It is one of the remarkable events of the Nineteenth Century that a self-educated man should, by his own genius and industry, without instruction, reach such an exalted place among the world's great scholars. Dr. Hendricks died in Des Moines on the 9th of June, 1893. *History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/Volume 4 by Benjamin F. Gue
A more complete mathematical biography of Mr. Hendricks can be found in The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol 1, #3, 1894.

1864 William Fogg Osgood (March 10, 1864, Boston - July 22, 1943, Belmont, Massachusetts) From 1899 to 1902, he served as editor of the Annals of Mathematics and in 1904–1905 was president of the American Mathematical Society, whose Transactions he edited in 1909–1910.
The works of Osgood dealt with complex analysis, in particular conformal mapping and uniformization of analytic functions, and calculus of variations. He was invited by Felix Klein to write an article on complex analysis in the Enzyklopädie der mathematischen Wissenschaften which was later expanded in the book Lehrbuch der Funktionentheorie. Besides his research on analysis, Osgood was also interested in mathematical physics and wrote on the theory of the gyroscope. Osgood's cousin, Louise Osgood, was the mother of Bernard Koopman, the statistician. *Wik Although his nickname was “Foggy,” this was not an apt description of him as a teacher. He instilled the habit of careful thought in Harvard students for 43 years. His A First Course in Differential and Integral Calculus (1907) was revised once and reprinted 17 times.*VFR
An interesting anecdote about the book dates to about 1940. Osgood chose not to use limits in his book and used infinitesimals instead. Leonidas Alaoglu taught the course at Harvard, he apparently didn't agree with Osgood's choice, and instructed the class, "Gentleman, please take pages 123 to 150 (Chapter 7 on infinitesimals) between thumb and forefinger and tear them out." *Steven Krantz, Mathematical Apocrypha Redux

1869 Benjamin Fedorovich Kagan (10 March 1869 in Shavli, Kovno (now Kaunas, Lithuania)
- 8 May 1953 in Moscow, USSR) Kagan worked on the foundations of geometry and his first work was on Lobachevsky's geometry. In 1902 he proposed axioms and definitions very different from Hilbert. Kagan studied tensor differential geometry after going to Moscow because of an interest in relativity.
Kagan wrote a history of non-euclidean geometry and also a detailed biography of Lobachevsky. He edited Lobachevsky's complete works which appeared in five volumes between 1946 and 1951. *SAU

1872 Mary Ann Elizabeth Stephansen (10 March 1872 in Bergen, Norway - 23 Feb 1961 in Espeland, Norway)received her Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Zurich in 1902. She was the first woman from Norway to receive a doctoral degree in any subject. Her thesis area was in partial differential equations. It was not until 1971 that another Norwegian woman obtained a doctorate in mathematics. Stephansen taught at the Norwegian Agricultural College from 1906 until her retirement in 1937. She began as an assistant in physics and mathematics, then was appointed to a newly created docent position in mathematics in 1921. She published four mathematical research papers on partial differential equations and difference equations.
A extensive biography of Elizabeth Stephansen is available as a pdf document at the web site of Professor Kari Hag. This also includes description of her mathematical work. *Agnes Scott College Web site

1912 Frank Smithies FRSE (10 March 1912 Edinburgh, Scotland – 16 November 2002 Cambridge, England) was a British mathematician who worked on integral equations, functional analysis, and the history of mathematics. He was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1961.*Wik

1923 Val Logsdon Fitch (10 Mar 1923, )American particle physicist who was corecipient with James Watson Cronin of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1980 for an experiment conducted in 1964 that disproved the long-held theory that particle interaction should be indifferent to the direction of time. Working with Leo James Rainwater, Fitch had been the first to observe radiation from muonic atoms; i.e., from species in which a muon is orbiting a nucleus rather than an electron. This work indicated that the sizes of atomic nuclei were smaller than had been supposed. He went on to study kaons and in 1964 began his collaboration with James Cronin, James Christenson, and René Turley which led to the discovery of violations of fundamental symmetry principles in the decay of neutral K-mesons. *TIS His birthplace is in Merriman, a village in Cherry County, Nebraska, United States. The population was 118 at the 2000 census.

1825 Karl Brandan Mollweide (3 Feb 1774 in Wolfenbüttel, Brunswick, now Germany - 10 March 1825 in Leipzig, Germany) He is remembered for his invention of the Mollweide projection of the sphere, a map projection which he produced to correct the distortions in the Mercator projection, first used by Gerardus Mercator in 1569. Mollweide announced his projection in 1805. While the Mercator projection is well adapted for sea charts, its very great exaggeration of land areas in high latitudes makes it unsuitable for most other purposes. In the Mercator projection the angles of intersection between the parallels and meridians, and the general configuration of the land, are preserved but as a consequence areas and distances are increasingly exaggerated as one moves away from the equator. To correct these defects, Mollweide drew his elliptical projection; but in preserving the correct relation between the areas he was compelled to sacrifice configuration and angular measurement.
The second piece of work to which Mollweide's name is attached today is the Mollweide equations which are sometimes called Mollweide's formulas. These trigonometric identities ares

sin(½(A - B)) / cos(½C) = (a - b) / c, and

cos(½(A - B)) / sin(½C) = (a + b) / c,

where A, B, C are the three angles of a triangle opposite to sides a, b, c, respectively. These trigonometric identities appear in Mollweide's paper Zusätze zur ebenen und sphärischen Trigonometrie (1808). *SAU

1921 Francis Robbins Upton (born 1852, 10 Mar 1921) American mathematician and physicist who, as assistant to Thomas Edison, contributed to the development of the American electric industry. Upton was the best educated of Edison's Menlo Park assistants. He was recruited by investors who felt it couldn't hurt to supplement Edison's wizardry with some advanced scientific training. He joined Edison in 1878, working at Edison's Menlo Park laboratory on mathematical problems relating to the development of the light bulb, the watt-hour meter and large dynamos. He later became a partner and general manager of the Edison Lamp Company (est. 1880). Upton's articles for Scientific American and Scribner's Monthly introduced many of Edison's inventions to the public. *TIS Upton graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover in 1870. He studied at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, at Princeton University where he received his M.S., and in Berlin, where he worked together with Hermann von Helmholtz.*Wik

1948 Evgeny Evgenievich Slutsky (19 April 1880 in Novoe, Yaroslavl guberniya, Russia - 10 March 1948 in Moscow, USSR) Slutsky was important in the application of mathematical methods in economics. Slutsky introduced stochastic concepts of limits, derivatives and integrals between 1925 to 1928 while he worked at the Conjuncture Institute. In 1927 he showed that subjecting a sequence of independent random variables to a sequence of moving averages generated an almost periodic sequence. This work stimulated the creation of stationary stochastic processes. He also studied correlations of related series for a limited number of trials. He obtained conditions for measurability of random functions in 1937. He applied his theories widely, in addition to economics mentioned above he also studied solar activity using data from 500 BC onwards. Other applications were to diverse topics such as the pricing of grain and the study of chromosomes. *SAU

1971 Lester Halbert Germer (10 Oct 1896; 10 Mar 1971) was a American physicist who, with his colleague Clinton Joseph Davisson, conducted an experiment (1927) that first demonstrated the wave properties of the electron. They showed that a beam of electrons scattered by a crystal produces a diffraction pattern characteristic of a wave. This experiment confirmed the hypothesis of Louis-Victor de Broglie, a founder of wave mechanics, that the electron should show the properties of an electromagnetic wave as well as a particle. He also studied thermionics, erosion of metals, and contact physics.*TIS

1981 Yaroslav Borisovich Lopatynsky (9 Nov 1906 in Tbilisi, Georgia, Russia - 10 March 1981 in Donetsk, USSR) Lopatynsky's contributions to the theory of differential equations are particularly important, with important contributions to the theory of linear and nonlinear partial differential equations. He worked on the general theory of boundary value problems for linear systems of partial differential equations of elliptic type, finding general methods of solving boundary value problems. *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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