Saturday, 28 July 2012

On This Day in Math - July 28



It appears to me that if one wishes to make progress in mathematics
one should study the masters and not the pupils.
Quoted in O Ore's, Niels Abel, Mathematician Extraordinary

The 210th day of the year; (21, 20, 29) and (35, 12, 37) are the two least primitive Pythagorean triangles with different hypotenuses and the same area (=210). Students are challenged to find another pair of such PPTs


EVENTS
1619 Kepler wrote Napier expressing his enthusiasm for Napier’s invention of logarithms. *VFR

1851 July 28, 1851 First American eclipse expedition to Europe when George Phillips Bond (1825 - 1865) led a team to Scandinavia. *NSEC   In the transcription of his notes he wrote:

1851 A total solar eclipse was photographed for the first time. *VFR The first correctly-exposed photograph of the solar corona was made during the total phase of the solar eclipse of 28 July 1851 at Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) by a local daguerreotypist named Berkowski at the Royal Observatory in Königsberg, Prussia (now Kalinigrad in Russia). Berkowski, whose first name was never published, observed at the Royal Observatory. A small 6-cm refracting telescope was attached to the 15.8-cm Fraunhofer heliometer and a 84-second exposure was taken shortly after the beginning of totality.
United Kingdom astronomers, Robert Grant and William Swan, and Austrian astronomer Karl Ludwig von Littrow observed this eclipse and determined that prominences are part of the Sun because the Moon is seen to cover and uncover them as it moves in front of the Sun.*Wik

In 1858, fingerprints were used as a means of identification for the first time.*TIS The English first began using fingerprints in July of 1858, when Sir William James Herschel, Chief Magistrate of the Hooghly district in Jungipoor, India, first used fingerprints on native contracts. On a whim, and without thought toward personal identification, Herschel had Rajyadhar Konai, a local businessman, impress his hand print on a contract.
The idea was merely "... to frighten [him] out of all thought of repudiating his signature." The native was suitably impressed, and Herschel made a habit of requiring palm prints--and later, simply the prints of the right Index and Middle fingers--on every contract made with the locals. Personal contact with the document, they believed, made the contract more binding than if they simply signed it. Thus, the first wide-scale, modern-day use of fingerprints was predicated, not upon scientific evidence, but upon superstitious beliefs.
As his fingerprint collection grew, however, Herschel began to note that the inked impressions could, indeed, prove or disprove identity. While his experience with fingerprinting was admittedly limited, Sir William Herschel's private conviction that all fingerprints were unique to the individual, as well as permanent throughout that individual's life, inspired him to expand their use. *History of Fingerprints, Onin.com

1866 The first act (in the USA) legalizing the employment of the metric system was approved (14 Stat. L. 339). The act provided that it “shall be lawful throughout the United States of America to employ the weights and measures of the metric system.” *VFR

1882 The Institute of Accountants and Bookkeepers was organized in New York City. It was the first accounting society in the United States. *FFF

1899 Cantor asks Dedekind whether the set of all cardinal numbers is itself a set, because if it is it would have a cardinal number larger than any other cardinal. *VFR

1948 Allen Turing writes to Jack Good with an estimate of the number of neurons in the human brain. "I have repeatedly looked in books on neurology ... and never found any numbers offered. My own estimate is 3x108 to 3x109. " *Turing Archives

2061 Halley's comet will next reach perihelion. The comet last reached perihelion on 9 February 1986, and will reach it again on 28 July 2061 *Wik


BIRTHS
1849 Robert Scott studied at Cambridge and was elected to a fellowship. After a short time teaching he studied to be a barrister. He spent most of his career as Bursar and Master of St John's College Cambridge. He published a book on Determinants. *SAU

1867 Charles Dillon Perrine (July 28, 1867; Steubenville, Ohio, – June 21, 1951) U.S. astronomer who discovered the sixth and seventh moons of Jupiter in 1904 and 1905, respectively. In 1904 he published a calculation of the solar parallax (a measure of the Earth-Sun distance) based on observations of the minor planet Eros during one of its close approaches to the Earth. *TIS

1928 John Bell's (28 June 1928 – 1 October 1990)   great achievement was that during the 1960s he was able to breathe new and exciting life into the foundations of quantum theory, a topic seemingly exhausted by the outcome of the Bohr-Einstein debate thirty years earlier, and ignored by virtually all those who used quantum theory in the intervening period. Bell was able to show that discussion of such concepts as 'realism', 'determinism' and 'locality' could be sharpened into a rigorous mathematical statement, 'Bell's inequality', which is capable of experimental test. Such tests, steadily increasing in power and precision, have been carried out over the last thirty years. *SAU

1954 Gerd Faltings (July 28, 1954 - ) was born in Gelsenkirchen-Buer, West Germany. In 1986 he received a Fields Medal for solving Mordell’s Conjecture using arithmetic algebraic geometry. *VFR He has also been closely linked with the work leading to the final proof of Fermat's Last Theorem by Andrew Wiles. In 1983 Faltings proved that for every n greater than 2 there are at most a finite number of coprime integers x, y, z with xn + yn = zn. This was a major step but a proof that the finite number was 0 in all cases did not seem likely to follow by extending Falting's arguments.
However, Faltings was the natural person that Wiles turned to when he wanted an opinion on the correctness of his repair of his proof of Fermat's Last Theorem in 1994.*TIS



DEATHS
1818 Gaspard Monge (9 May 1746 – 28 July 1818) died in disgrace in Bourbon Paris, having been stripped of his place in the reorganized Acad´emie of 1816. Although he contributed to differential equations and the geom¬etry of surfaces, his special interest was descriptive geometry. Employed as a teacher, he made significant contributions to educational reform. [Ivor Grattan-Guiness, Convolutions in French Mathematics, 1800–1840, p. 616]
On the fall of Napoleon he was deprived of all his honors, and even excluded from the list of members of the reconstituted Institute. Monge died at Paris on 28 July 1818 and was interred in Le Père Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris, in a mausoleum. He was later transferred to the Panthéon. The mausoleum and Monge's bust remain in Le Père Lachaise Cemetery.
A statue portraying him was erected in his home town of Beaune, Côte-d'Ors in 1849. His name is one of the 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel Tower.

1944 Sir Ralph Fowler (17 January 1889 – 28 July 1944) a brilliant physicist. But it may be for his influence upon others that he is best known. In fact, no less than fifteen Fellows of the Royal Society and three Nobel Laureates were supervised by Fowler between 1922 and 1939. The total number supervised during this time was a staggering sixty-four giving him an average of eleven research students at any given time. One might be led to believe that this did not allow for any depth of relationship to form between him and his students. However, this was far from the truth of the matter. Those who studied under Fowler had a tremendous admiration for him. In particular, E A Milne [1] was especially taken by the man whom he fondly referred to as "the kind of man you can still remain friendly with, even when he has sold you a motor-bike; it is not possible to say more" and whom he called a "prince amongst men".
Aside from Milne, on whom he had a profound impact, he also had the opportunity of influencing the likes of Sir Arthur Eddington, Subramanian Chandrasekhar, Paul Dirac, Sir William McCrea, Lady Jeffreys and others either directly through supervision or indirectly through collaboration. Even in his personal life he was intimately connected with brilliant people having married Eileen, the only daughter of Lord Rutherford whom he met through Rutherford's Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge. Sometimes his influence was simply the fact that he was known to so many people. It was Fowler who ultimately introduced Paul Dirac to the burgeoning field of quantum theory in 1923 leading Dirac to the forefront of its ultimate discovery in 1925. Fowler also put Dirac and Werner Heisenberg in touch with each other through Niels Bohr. As Sir William McCrea simply put it: "he was the right man in the right place at the right time." *SAU
1968 Otto Hahn (8 Mar 1879; 28 Jul 1968 at age 89) German physical chemist who, with the radiochemist Fritz Strassmann, is credited with the discovery of nuclear fission. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1944 and shared the Enrico Fermi Award in 1966 with Strassmann and Lise Meitner. Element 105 carries the name hahnium in recognition of his work.*TIS

2000 Abraham Pais (May 19, 1918 – July 28, 2000) Dutch-American physicist and science historian whose research became the building blocks of the theory of elemental particles. He wrote Subtle Is the Lord: The Science and Life of Albert Einstein, which is considered the definitive Einstein biography. In Holland, his Ph.D. in physics was awarded on 9 Jul 1941, five days before a Nazi deadline banning Jews from receiving degrees. Later, during WW II, while in hiding to evade the Gestapo, he worked out ideas in quantum electrodynamics that he later shared when working with Niels Bohr (Jan - Aug 1946). In Sep 1946, he went to the U.S. to work with Robert Oppenheimer at Princeton, where Pais contributed to the foundations of the modern theory of particle physics.*TIS

2004 Francis Harry Compton Crick (8 June 1916 – 28 July 2004) was a British biophysicist, who, with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins, received the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their determination of the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the chemical substance ultimately responsible for hereditary control of life functions. Crick and Watson began their collaboration in 1951, and published their paper on the double helix structure on 2 Apr 1953 in Nature. This accomplishment became a cornerstone of genetics and was widely regarded as one of the most important discoveries of 20th-century biology. *TIS



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