## Thursday, 7 June 2012

### On This Day in Math - June 7

Go down deep enough into anything
and you will find mathematics.
~Dean Schlicter

The 159th day of the year; 159 = 3 x 53, and upon concatenating these factors in order we have a peak palindrome, 353, which is itself a prime.*Prime Curios

EVENTS
1634  In a letter which he wrote at Dover in England to Mersenne on 7 June 1634, Bernard Frenicle describes an experiment to study the trajectory of a body released from the top of the mast of a moving ship. The data which he presents in the letter is quite accurate. Again on a more applied mathematical topic, Frenicle wrote an article which makes comments on Galileo's Dialogue. *SAU

1713 Johan Bernoulli (I) writes to Leibniz from Basil to stir the pot in the great calculus dispute. "...my nephew (Nikolaus) brought from Paris a single copy of the Commercium Epistolicum... sent from London for distribution to the learned.... you are at once accused by a tribunal consisting,..., of the participants and witnesses themselves.. documents against you are produced, sentence is passed; you lose the case, you are condemned." *The Correspondence of Isaac Newton

1742, the German mathematician Christian Goldbach originally of Brandenburg-Prussia wrote a letter to Leonhard Euler (letter XLIII) in which he proposed the following conjecture:
“Every integer which can be written as the sum of two primes, can also be written as the sum of as many primes as one wishes, until all terms are units.”
He then proposed a second conjecture in the margin of his letter:
“Every integer greater than 2 can be written as the sum of three primes.”
He considered 1 to be a prime number, a convention subsequently abandoned. The two conjectures are now known to be equivalent, but this did not seem to be an issue at the time. A modern version of Goldbach's marginal conjecture is:
Every integer greater than 5 can be written as the sum of three primes.
*Wik

1753  the British Museum was founded, the world's oldest public national museum, when King George II gave his royal assent to an Act of Parliament to accept the collection of Sir Hans Sloane, a London-based physician, following his death. In his will, he had offered the British nation the collection he built over his lifetime: 71,000 objects, mostly plant and animal specimens. In return, he asked a sum of £20,000 for his heirs (which today would be more than £2,000,000). The museum opened to the public 15 Jan 1759 at Bloomsbury. Its current buildings there date from the mid-19th century. The natural history collection moved to its own museum in 1881. The British Museum set up a laboratory in 1920 for scientific study of objects. *TIS

1886 Just two-and-a-half years after Winifred Edgerton entered Columbia, she completed her thesis. At the Board of Trustees meeting that day the following motion was made and passed unanimously: “That in consideration of the extraordinary excellence of the scientific work done by Miss Winifred Edgerton, as attested by the Professors who have had the superintendence of her course in practical Astronomy, and the Pure Mathematics in the Graduate Department, the degree of Doctor of Philosophy can be conferredupon Miss Edgerton cum laude”
Winifred Edgerton thus became the first American woman to receive her Ph.D. in mathematics and the first woman to graduate from Columbia University.*Susan E. Kelly and Sarah A. Rozner *AMS Notices,Volume 59, Number 4

1914   the Alliance was the first vessel to pass through the Panama Canal.*TIS

1958 France issued a stamp with a portrait of Denis Diderot (1713–1784). [Scott #B 323].

BIRTHS
1761 John Rennie Scottish engineer and architect who designed London Bridge. After working as a millwright with Andrew Meikle he studied at Edinburgh University (1780-83). He was employed by Boulton & Watt for five years In 1791, he moved to London and started his own engineering company. Over the next few years he became famous as a bridge-builder, including Leeds Bridge, Southwark Bridge and Waterloo Bridge. He was also designed and built docks at Hull, Liverpool, Greenock and Leith and improving the harbours and dockyards at Portsmouth, Chatham and Plymouth. His last project was London Bridge, though he died in 1821 before it was finished. The bridge was completed by his son, Sir John Rennie.*TIS

1863 American mathematician Edward Burr Van Vleck born.  (June 7, 1863, Middletown, Connecticut – June 3, 1943, Madison, Wisconsin) The son of astronomer John Monroe Van Vleck, he graduated from Wesleyan University in 1884, attended Johns Hopkins in 1885-87, and studied at Göttingen (Ph.D., 1893). He was assistant professor and professor at Wesleyan (1895-1906), and after 1906 a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where the mathematics building is named after him. In 1913 he became president of the American Mathematical Society, of whose Transactions he had been first associate editor (1902-05) and then editor (1905-10). He was the author of Theory of Divergent Series and Algebraic Continued Fractions (1903), and of several monographs in mathematical journals. His son, John Hasbrouck van Vleck, was a notable physicist who received the Nobel Prize in 1977.*Wik

1868 Sir John Sealy Edward Townsend (7 Jun 1868, 16 Feb 1957 at age 88) British physicist who pioneered in the study of electrical conduction in gases. In 1898 he made the first direct measurement of the unit electrical charge (e). As a postgraduate, he was a research student of J. J. Thomson. In 1897, Townsend developed the falling-drop method for measuring e, using saturated clouds of charged water droplets (extended by Robert Millikan's highly accurate oil-drop method). He was first to explain how electric discharges pass through gases (Electricity in Gases, 1915) whereby motion of electrons in an electric field releases more electrons by collision. These in turn collide releasing even more electrons in a multiplication of charges known as an avalanche. *TIS

1877 Charles Barkla (7 June 1877 to 23 October 1944) was an influential English physicist who became professor of Natural Philosophy in Edinburgh. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1917 for his work on X-ray spectroscopy.

1890 Werner Schmeidler born. He worked in analysis and applied mathematics.*SAU  He studied mathematics in Göttingen.  From 1939 he was Professor at the Technical University of Berlin , where he held the Chair of Pure and Applied Mathematics until the summer semester 1958. *Wik

1896 Robert Sunderson Mulliken (June 7, 1896 – October 31, 1986),  primarily responsible for the early development of molecular orbital theory, i.e. the elaboration of the molecular orbital method of computing the structure of molecules. Dr. Mulliken received the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1966. He received the Priestley Medal in 1983. *Wik

DEATHS
1843 Alexis Bouvard (27 June 1767 – 7 June 1843) French astronomer and director of the Paris Observatory, who is noted for discovering eight comets and writing Tables astronomiques of Jupiter and Saturn (1808) and of Uranus (1821). Bouvard's tables accurately predicted orbital locations of Jupiter and Saturn, but his tables for Uranus failed, leading him to hypothesize that irregularities were caused by an unknown perturbing body. This spurred observations leading to the discovery of Neptune by Adams and Leverrier.*TIS

1954 Alan Turing (23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954), died by committing suicide because he was persecuted by the British Government for his homosexuality. *VFR Alan Mathison Turing, OBE, FRS (play /ˈtjʊərɪŋ/ tewr-ing; 23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954), was an English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and computer scientist. He was highly influential in the development of computer science, providing a formalization of the concepts of "algorithm" and "computation" with the Turing machine, which played a significant role in the creation of the modern computer. Turing is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence.
Turing's homosexuality resulted in a criminal prosecution in 1952, when homosexual acts were still illegal in the United Kingdom. On 10 September 2009, following an Internet campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for the way in which Turing was treated after the war.
My favorite Turing story is this: When he was found, he had a half eaten apple by his bed, which may have been the delivery mechanism for the poison. Some suggest he chose this method because it was a re-enactment of a scene from the 1937 film Snow White, his favorite fairy tale. Years later, to honor Turing, the developers of Apple Computers used the symbol of an apple with a bite out for their logo. The last part, about the Apple logo, seems not to be true, but it is a great story, and a good excuse to tell students about the work of Turing.. so I do.*Wik

2004  Joseph Doob (February 27, 1910–June 7, 2004) was an 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

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