Sunday, 22 April 2012

On This Day in Math - April 22


It can be of no practical use to know
that π is irrational,
but if we can know,
it surely would be intolerable not to know.
 ~ Edward Titchmarsh


The 113th day of the year; 113 is prime, its reversal (311) is prime, and the number you get by any reordering of its digits is still prime. Students might try to find other of these "absolute" or "permutable" primes.
Also the sum of the first 113 digits of e is prime. That was also true of yesterday's number, and tomorrow's.


EVENTS

1056, the supernova in the Crab nebula was last seen by the naked eye. The creation of the Crab Nebula corresponds to the bright SN 1054 supernova that was independently recorded by Indian, Arabic, Chinese and Japanese astronomers in 1054 AD. The Crab Nebula itself was first observed in 1731 by John Bevis. The nebula was independently rediscovered in 1758 by Charles Messier as he was observing a bright comet. Messier catalogued it as the first entry in his catalogue of comet-like objects. The Earl of Rosse observed the nebula at Birr Castle in 1848, and referred to the object as the Crab Nebula because a drawing he made of it looked like a crab.*Wik

???? In the century and a half between 1725 and 1875, the French fought and won a certain battle on 22 April of one year, and 4382 days later, also on 22 April, they gained another victory. The sum of the digits of the years is 40. Find the years of the battles. For a solution see Ball’s Mathematical Recreations and Essays, 11th edition, p. 27. *VFR (or see this blog)

1715   A total solar eclipse was observed in England from Cornwall in the south-west to Lincolnshire and Norfolk in the east. This eclipse is known as Halley's Eclipse, after Edmund Halley (1656–1742) who predicted this eclipse to within 4 minutes accuracy. Halley observed the eclipse from London where the city of London enjoyed 3 minutes 33 seconds of totality. He also drew a predictive map showing the path of totality across England. The original map was about 30 km off the observed eclipse path. After the eclipse, he corrected the eclipse path, and added the path and description of the 1724 total solar eclipse.Note: Great Britain didn't adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752, so the date was considered 22 April 1715. (Under the modern calendar this would be May 3.) *Wik… The Royal Society reports: Edmund Halley, a Fellow of the Royal Society, is most famous for his work on the orbits of comets, predicting when the one that now bears his name would be seen; however, his interests were more widespread. In 1715 the first total solar eclipse for 500 years took place over England and Wales. Halley, a talented mathematician, realized that such an event would generate a general curiosity and requested that the ‘curious’ across the country should observe ‘what they could’ and make a record of the time and duration of the eclipse. At the time, there were only two universities in England and their astronomy professors did not have much luck in observing the event: ‘the Reverend Mr Cotes at Cambridge had the misfortune to be oppressed by too much company’ and ‘Dr John Keill by reason of clouds, saw nothing distinctly at Oxford but the end’. The event did indeed capture the imagination of the nation and the timings collected allowed Halley to work out the shape of the eclipse shadow and the speed at which it passed over the Earth (29 miles per minute). Halley's map of the path of the eclipse is here.

In 1970, the first nationwide Earth Day was celebrated in the U.S. as an environmental awareness event celebrated by millions of Americans with marches, educational programs, and rallies. (A local Earth Day celebration had occurred on 21 Mar 1970, in San Francisco, Cal.). Later the same year, President Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, on 2 Dec 1970 to address America's severe pollution problem. Its mission is to safeguard the nation's water, air and soil from pollution. The agency conducts research, sets standards, monitors activities and helps to enforce environmental protection laws*TIS

2012 A rare daytime meteor was seen and heard streaking over northern Nevada and parts of California on Sunday, just after the peak of an annual meteor shower.
Observers in the Reno-Sparks area of Nevada reported seeing a fireball at about 8 a.m. local time, accompanied or followed by a thunderous clap that experts said could have been a sonic boom from the meteor or the sound of it breaking up high over the Earth. While meteors visible at night typically range in size from a pebble to a grain of sand, a meteor large enough to be seen during daylight hours would presumably be as big as a baseball or softball.*Reuters US

Bill Cooke of the Meteoroid Environments Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., estimates the object was about the size of a minivan, weighed in at around 154,300 pounds (70 metric tons) and at the time of disintegration released energy equivalent to a 5-kiloton explosion. *NASA

BIRTHS
1592 Wilhelm Shickard (22 April 1592 – 24 October 1635) He invented and built a working model of the first modern mechanical calculator. *VFR 
Schickard's machine could perform basic arithmetic operations on integer inputs. His letters to Kepler explain the application of his "calculating clock" to the computation of astronomical tables.
In 1935 while researching a book on Kepler, a scholar found a letter from Schickard and a sketch of his calculator, but did not immediately recognize thedesigns or their great importance. Another twenty years passed before the book's editor, Franz Hammer, found additional drawings and instructions for Schickard's second machine and released them to the scientific community in 1955.A professor at Schickard's old university, Tübingen, reconstructed thecalculator based upon Schickard's original plans; it is still on display there today. 
He was a friend of Kepler and did copperplate engravings for Kepler's Harmonice Mundi. He built the first calculating machine in 1623, but it was destroyed in a fire in the workshop in 1624.


1724 Immanuel Kant  in Konigsberg, Germany. German philosopher, trained as a mathematician and physicist, who published his General History of Nature and theory of the Heavens in 1755. This physical view of the universe contained three anticipations of importance to astronomers. 1) He made the nebula hypothesis ahead of Laplace. 2) He described the Milky Way as a lens-shaped collection of stars that represented only one of many "island universes," later shown by Herschel. 3) He suggested that friction from tides slowed the rotation of the earth, which was confirmed a century later. In 1770 he became a professor of mathematics, but turned to metaphysics and logic in 1797, the field in which he is best known. *TIS

1807 Luigi Palmieri (April 22, 1807 – September 9, 1896) was an Italian physicist and meteorologist. He was famous for his scientific studies of the eruptions of Mount Vesuvius, for his researches on earthquakes and meteorological phenomena and for improving the seismographer of the time. Using a modified Peltier electrometer, he also carried out research in the field of atmospheric electricity. Other scientific contributions included the development of a modified Morse telegraph, and improvements to the anemometer and pluviometer. *Wik

1811 Ludwig Otto Hesse (22 April 1811 in Königsberg, Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia)- 4 Aug 1874 in Munich, Germany)Hesse worked on the development of the theory algebraic functions and the theory of invariants. He is remembered particularly for introducing the Hessian (matrix)determinant. *SAU The Hessian matrix is a square matrix of second-order partial derivatives of a function; that is, it describes the local curvature of a function of many variables.*Wik


1816 The French general, Charles Denis Sauter Bourbaki was born. There is a statue of him in Nancy, France, where Jean Dieudonn´e once taught. The polycephalic mathematician Nicolas Bourbaki was named after him. See Joong Fang, Bourbaki, Paideia Press, 1970, p. 24.*VFR

1830 Thomas Archer Hirst FRS (22 April 1830 – 16 February 1892) was a 19th century mathematician, specialising in geometry. He was awarded the Royal Society's Royal Medal in 1883.Hirst was a projective geometer in the style of Poncelet and Steiner. He was not an adherent of the algebraic geometry approach of Cayley and Sylvester, despite being a personal friend of theirs. His speciality was Cremona transformations.*Wik

1884 David Enskog (April 22, 1884, Västra Ämtervik, Sunne – June 1, 1947,Stockholm) was a Swedish mathematical physicist. Enskog helped develop the kinetic theory of gases by extending the Maxwell–Boltzmann equations.*Wik

1887 Harald August Bohr (22 April 1887 – 22 January 1951) was a Danish mathematician and football player. After receiving his doctorate in 1910, Bohr became an eminent mathematician, founding the field of almost periodic functions. His brother was the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Niels Bohr. He was a member of the Danish national team for the 1908 Summer Olympics, where he won a silver medal.*Wik (Is there another prominent mathematician who has won an Olympic medal?)

1891 Sir Harold Jeffreys (22 Apr 1891, 18 Mar 1989 at age 97)English astronomer, geophysicist and mathematician who had diverse scientific interests. In astronomy he proposed models for the structures of the outer planets, and studied the origin of the solar system. He calculated the surface temperatures of gas at less than -100°C, contradicting then accepted views of red-hot temperatures, but Jeffreys was shown to be correct when direct observations were made. In geophysics he researched the circulation of the atmosphere and earthquakes. Analyzing earthquake waves (1926), he became the first to claim that the core of the Earth is molten fluid. Jeffreys also contributed to the general theory of dynamics, aerodynamics, relativity theory and plant ecology.*TIS

1903 Taro Morishima (22 April 1903 in Wakayama, Japan - 8 Aug 1989 in Tokyo, Japan) a Japanese mathematician specializing in algebra who attended University of Tokyo in Japan. Morishima published at least thirteen papers, including his work on Fermat's Last Theorem, and a collected works volume published in 1990 after his death. He also corresponded several times with American mathematician H. S. Vandiver.
Morishima's Theorem on FLT:
Let m be a prime number not exceeding 31. Let p be prime, and let x, y, z be integers such that xp + yp + zp = 0. Assume that p does not divide the product xyz. Then, p2 must divide mp − 1-1. *Wik

1904 J(ulius) Robert Oppenheimer was a U.S. theoretical physicist and science administrator, noted as director of the Los Alamos laboratory during development of the atomic bomb (1943-45) and as director of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (1947-66). Accusations as to his loyalty and reliability as a security risk led to a government hearing that resulted the loss of his security clearance and of his position as adviser to the highest echelons of the U.S. government. The case became a cause célèbre in the world of science because of its implications concerning political and moral issues relating to the role of scientists in government. *TIS

1910 Norman Earl Steenrod (April 22, 1910 – October 14, 1971) was a preeminent mathematician most widely known for his contributions to the field of algebraic topology. He was born in Dayton, Ohio, and educated at Miami University and University of Michigan (A.B. 1932). After receiving a master's degree from Harvard University in 1934, he enrolled at Princeton University. He completed his Ph.D. under the direction of Solomon Lefschetz, with a thesis titled Universal homology groups. He held positions at the University of Chicago from 1939 to 1942, and the University of Michigan from 1942 to 1947. He moved to Princeton University in 1947, and remained on the Faculty there for the rest of his career. He died in Princeton.
Thanks to Lefschetz and others, the cup product structure of cohomology was understood by the early 1940s. Steenrod was able to define operations from one cohomology group to another (the so-called Steenrod squares) that generalized the cup product. The additional structure made cohomology a finer invariant. The Steenrod cohomology operations form a (non-commutative) algebra under composition, known as the Steenrod algebra.
His book The Topology of Fiber Bundles is a standard reference. In collaboration with Samuel Eilenberg, he was a founder of the axiomatic approach to homology theory. *Wik

1929 Sir Michael Francis Atiyah, OM, FRS, FRSE (22 April 1929, ) is a British mathematician working in geometry.
was awarded the Fields Medal in 1966 primarily for his work in topology. Atiyah received a knighthood in 1983 and the Order of Merit in 1992. He also served as president of the Royal Society (1990-95). *TIS

1946 Paul Charles William Davies, AM (22 April 1946, ) is an English physicist, writer and broadcaster, currently a professor at Arizona State University as well as the Director of BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science. He has held previous academic appointments at the University of Cambridge, University of London, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, University of Adelaide and Macquarie University. His research interests are in the fields of cosmology, quantum field theory, and astrobiology. He has proposed that a one-way trip to Mars could be a viable option.*Wik

DEATHS

1945 Wilhelm Cauer (June 24, 1900 – April 22, 1945) was a German mathematician and scientist. He is most noted for his work on the analysis and synthesis of electrical filters and his work marked the beginning of the field of network synthesis. Prior to his work, electronic filter design used techniques which accurately predicted filter behaviour only under unrealistic conditions. This required a certain amount of experience on the part of the designer to choose suitable sections to include in the design. Cauer placed the field on a firm mathematical footing, providing tools that could produce exact solutions to a given specification for the design of an electronic filter. *Wik
By the end of World War II, he was, like millions of less-distinguished countrymen and -women, merely a person in the way of a terrible conflagration.
Cauer succeeded in evacuating his family west, where the American and not the Soviet army would overtake it — but for reasons unclear he then returned himself to Berlin. His son Emil remembered the sad result.
The last time I saw my father was two days before the American Forces occupied the small town of Witzenhausen in Hesse, about 30 km from Gottingen. We children were staying there with relatives in order to protect us from air raids. Because rail travel was already impossible, my father was using a bicycle. Military Police was patrolling the streets stopping people and checking their documents. By that time, all men over 16 were forbidden to leave towns without a permit, and on the mere suspicion of being deserters, many were hung summarily in the market places. Given this atmosphere of terror and the terrible outrages which Germans had inflicted on the peoples of the Soviet Union, I passionately tried to persuade my father to hide rather than return to Berlin, since it was understandable that the Red Army would take its revenge. But he decided to go back, perhaps out of solidarity with his colleagues still in Berlin, or just due to his sense of duty, or out of sheer determination to carry out what he had decided to do.
Seven months after the ending of that war, my mother succeeded in reaching Berlin and found the ruins of our house in a southern suburb of the city. None of the neighbors knew about my father’s fate. But someone gave identification papers to my mother which were found in a garden of the neighborhood. The track led to a mass grave with eight bodies where my mother could identify her husband and another man who used to live in our house. By April 22, 1945, the Red Army had crossed the city limits of Berlin at several points. Although he was a civilian and not a member of the Nazi Party, my father and other civilians were executed by soldiers of the Red Army. The people who witnessed the executions were taken into Soviet captivity, and it was not possible to obtain details of the exact circumstances of my father’s death.
*ExecutedToday.com

1948 Herbert William Richmond (17 July 1863 Tottenham, England – 22 April 1948 Cambridge, England) was a mathematician who studied the Cremona–Richmond configuration. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1911. T
The Cremona–Richmond configuration is a configuration of 15 lines and 15 points, having 3 points on each line and 3 lines through each point, and containing no triangles.*Wik

1989 Emilio Gino Segrè (1 Feb 1905; 22 Apr 1989) was an Italian-born American physicist who was co-winner, with Owen Chamberlain of the United States, of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1959 for the discovery of the antiproton, an antiparticle having the same mass as a proton but opposite in electrical charge. He also created atoms of the man-made new element technetium (1937) and astatine (1940). Technetium occupied a hitherto unfilled space in the body of the Periodic Table, and was the first man-made element not found in nature. Astatine exists naturally only in exceedly small quantities because as a decay product of larger atoms, and having a half-life of only a few days, it quickly disappears by radioactively decay to become atoms of another element.*TIS

2002 Victor Frederick Weisskopf (September 19, 1908 – April 22, 2002) was an Austrian-born American theoretical physicist. He did postdoctoral work with Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, Wolfgang Pauli and Niels Bohr.[1] During World War II he worked at Los Alamos on the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb, and later campaigned against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
His brilliance in physics led to work with the great physicists exploring the atom, especially Niels Bohr, who mentored Weisskopf at his institute in Copenhagen. By the late 1930s, he realized that, as a Jew, he needed to get out of Europe. Bohr helped him find a position in the U.S.
In the 1930s and 1940s, 'Viki', as everyone called him, made major contributions to the development of quantum theory, especially in the area of Quantum Electrodynamics.[3] One of his few regrets was that his insecurity about his mathematical abilities may have cost him a Nobel prize when he did not publish results (which turned out to be correct) about what is now known as the Lamb shift. *Wik
2008 Derek Thomas "Tom" Whiteside FBA (23 July 1932 – 22 April 2008) was a British historian of mathematics. He was the foremost authority on the work of Isaac Newton and editor of The Mathematical Papers of Isaac Newton. From 1987 to his retirement in 1999, he was the Professor of History of Mathematics and Exact Sciences at Cambridge University. *Wik



Credits
*CHM=Computer History Museum
*FFF=Kane, Famous First Facts
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History
*TIS= Today in Science History
*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*Wik = Wikipedia
*WM = Women of Mathematics, Grinstein & Campbell
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