Thursday, 27 September 2012

On This Day in Math - September 27

Algebra exists only for the elucidation of geometry.
~William Edge

The 271st day of the year; 271 is a prime number and is the sum of eleven consecutive primes (7 + 11 + 13 + 17 + 19 + 23 + 29 + 31 + 37 + 41 + 43).


14 A.D.: A total lunar eclipse marked the death of Augustus: "The Moon in the midst of a clear sky became suddenly eclipsed; the soldiers who were ignorant of the cause took this for an omen referring to their present adventures: to their labors they compared the eclipse of the planet, and prophesied 'that if to the distressed goodness should be restored her wonted brightness and splendor, equally successful would be the issue of their struggle.' Hence they made a loud noise, by ringing upon brazen metal, and by blowing trumpets and cornets; as she appeared brighter or darker they exulted or lamented"
- Tacitus *NASA Lunar Eclipses
1830 American Statesman Charles Sumner (1811-1874) paid little attention as an undergraduate at Harvard, but a year after graduation he became convinced that mathematics was a necessary part of a complete education. To a classmate he wrote: “Just a week ago yesterday, I commenced Walker’s Geometry, and now have got nearly half through. All those problems, theorems, etc., which were such stumbling-blocks to my Freshman-year career, unfold themselves as easily as possible now. You will sooner have thought, I suppose, that fire and water would have embraced than mathematics and myself; but, strange to tell, we are close friends now. I really get geometry with some pleasure. I usually devote four hours in the forenoon to it.” Quoted from Florian Cajori’s Mathematics in Liberal Education (1928), p. 115. *VFR (Sumner was nearly beaten to death by a South Carolina Congressional Representative after a vindictive speech attacking the Kansas-Nebraska act, and it's authors. His speech included direct insults, sexual innuendo, and made fun of South Carolina Senator Andrew Butler, one of the authors, by imitating his stroke impaired speech and mannerisms. Butler's Nephew, Preston Brooks, having decided that a duel could not take place between a gentleman (himself) and a drunk-lout(Sumner) stopped by Sumner's desk to confront him and nearly beat him to death with his cane. Sumner lost the fight, but the incident put his star on the rise in the Northern states.)

In 1831, the first annual meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science was held in York. The British Association had been established in the same year by Sir David Brewster, R.I. Murchison and others. One of the association's main objectives was to "promote the intercourse of those who cultivate science with each other." The second annual meeting was held at Oxford (1832), and in following years at Cambridge, Edinburgh, Dublin, Bristol, Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham, Glasgow, Plymouth, Manchester and Cork respectively, until returning to York in 1844. It is incorporated by Royal Charter dated 21 Apr 1928.*TIS

1892 Mykhailo Pilipovich Krawtchouk (27 Sept 1892 in Chovnitsy, (now Kivertsi) Ukraine - 9 March 1942 in Kolyma, Siberia, USSR) In 1929 Krawtchouk published his most famous work, Sur une généralisation des polynômes d'Hermite. In this paper he introduced a new system of orthogonal polynomials now known as the Krawtchouk polynomials, which are polynomials associated with the binomial distribution.
However his mathematical work was very wide and, despite his early death, he was the author of around 180 articles on mathematics. He wrote papers on differential and integral equations, studying both their theory and applications. Other areas he wrote on included algebra (where among other topics he studied the theory of permutation matrices), geometry, mathematical and numerical analysis, probability theory and mathematical statistics. He was also interested in the philosophy of mathematics, the history of mathematics and mathematical education. Krawtchouk edited the first three-volume dictionary of Ukrainian mathematical terminology. *SAU
1905 E=mc2 the day that Einstein's paper outlining the significance of the equation arrived in the offices of the German journal Annalen der Physik. "Does the inertia of a body depend on its energy content?"

1919 Einstein writes to his ailing mother that "H. A. Lorenztz has just telegraphed me that the British Expeditions have definitely confirmed the deflection of light by the sun." He adds consolation on her illness and wishes her "good days", and closes with "affectionately, Albert *Einstein Archives
In 1922, scientists at the Naval Aircraft Radio Laboratory near Washington, D.C., demonstrated that if a ship passed through a radio wave being broadcast between two stations, that ship could be detected, the essentials of radar. *TIS

1996 Kevin Mitnick, 33, was indicted on charges resulting from a 2 ½-year hacking spree. Police accused the hacker, who called himself "Condor," of stealing software worth millions of dollars from major computer corporations. The maximum possible sentence for his crimes was 200 years. *CHM Mitnick served five years in prison — four and a half years pre-trial and eight months in solitary confinement — because, according to Mitnick, law enforcement officials convinced a judge that he had the ability to "start a nuclear war by whistling into a pay phone".[11] He was released on January 21, 2000. During his supervised release, which ended on January 21, 2003, he was initially forbidden to use any communications technology other than a landline telephone. Mitnick fought this decision in court, eventually winning a ruling in his favor, allowing him to access the Internet. Under the plea deal, Mitnick was also prohibited from profiting from films or books based on his criminal activity for seven years. Mitnick now runs Mitnick Security Consulting​ LLC, a computer security consultancy. *Wik

2011 President Obama today named seven eminent researchers as recipients of the National Medal of Science and five inventors as recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honors bestowed by the United States government on scientists, engineers, and inventors. The recipients will receive their awards at a White House ceremony later this year.

This year’s recipients are listed below.
National Medal of Science
Jacqueline K. Barton
California Institute of Technology
For discovery of a new property of the DNA helix, long-range electron transfer, and for showing that electron transfer depends upon stacking of the base pairs and DNA dynamics.  Her experiments reveal a strategy for how DNA repair proteins locate DNA lesions and demonstrate a biological role for DNA-mediated charge transfer.
Ralph L. Brinster
University of Pennsylvania
For his fundamental contributions to the development and use of transgenic mice.  His research has provided experimental foundations and inspiration for progress in germline genetic modification in a range of species, which has generated a revolution in biology, medicine, and agriculture.
Shu Chien
University of California, San Diego
For pioneering work in cardiovascular physiology and bioengineering, which has had tremendous impact in the fields of microcirculation, blood rheology and mechanotransduction in human health and disease.
Rudolf Jaenisch
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Massachusetts Institute of Technology
For improving our understanding of epigenetic regulation of gene expression: the biological mechanisms that affect how genetic information is variably expressed.  His work has led to major advances in our understanding of mammalian cloning and embryonic stem cells.
Peter J. Stang
University of Utah
For his creative contributions to the development of organic supramolecular chemistry and for his outstanding and unique record of public service.
Richard A. Tapia
Rice University
For his pioneering and fundamental contributions in optimization theory and numerical analysis and for his dedication and sustained efforts in fostering diversity and excellence in mathematics and science education.
Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan
New York University
For his work in probability theory, especially his work on large deviations from expected random behavior, which has revolutionized this field of study during the second half of the twentieth century and become a cornerstone of both pure and applied probability.  The mathematical insights he developed have been applied in diverse fields including quantum field theory, population dynamics, finance, econometrics, and traffic engineering.
National Medal of Technology and Innovation
Rakesh Agrawal
Purdue University
For an extraordinary record of innovations in improving the energy efficiency and reducing the cost of gas liquefaction and separation. These innovations have had significant positive impacts on electronic device manufacturing, liquefied gas production, and the supply of industrial gases for diverse industries.
B. Jayant Baliga
North Carolina State University
For development and commercialization of the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor and other power semiconductor devices that are extensively used in transportation, lighting, medicine, defense, and renewable energy generation systems.
C. Donald Bateman
For developing and championing critical flight-safety sensors now used by aircraft worldwide, including ground proximity warning systems and wind-shear detection systems.
Yvonne C. Brill
RCA Astro Electronics (Retired)
For innovation in rocket propulsion systems for geosynchronous and low earth orbit communication satellites, which greatly improved the effectiveness of space propulsion systems.
Michael F. Tompsett
For pioneering work in materials and electronic technologies including the design and development of the first charge-coupled device (CCD) imagers. *The White House


1677 Johann Doppelmayr was a German mathematician who wrote on astronomy, spherical trigonometry, sundials and mathematical instruments.*SAU

1719 Abraham Kästner was a German mathematician who compiled encyclopaedias and wrote text-books. He taught Gauss. His work on the parallel postulate influenced Bolyai and Lobachevsky*SAU

1814 Daniel Kirkwood (27 Sep 1814; 11 Jun 1895) American mathematician and astronomer who noted in about 1860 that there were several zones of low density in the minor-planet population. These gaps in the distribution of asteroid distances from the Sun are now known as Kirkwood gaps. He explained the gaps as resulting from perturbations by Jupiter. An object that revolved in one of the gaps would be disturbed regularly by the planet's gravitational pull and eventually would be moved to another orbit. Thus gaps appeared in the distribution of asteroids where the orbital period of any small body present would be a simple fraction of that of Jupiter. Kirwood showed that a similar effect accounted for gaps in Saturns rings.*TIS The asteroid 1951 AT was named 1578 Kirkwood in his honor and so was the lunar impact crater Kirkwood, as well as Indiana University's Kirkwood Observatory. He is buried in the Rose Hill Cemetery in Bloomington, Indiana, where Kirkwood Avenue is named for him. *Wik

1824 Benjamin Apthorp Gould (27 Sep 1824; 26 Nov 1896) American astronomer whose star catalogs helped fix the list of constellations of the Southern Hemisphere Gould's early work was done in Germany, observating the motion of comets and asteroids. In 1861 undertook the enormous task of preparing for publication the records of astronomical observations made at the US Naval Observatory since 1850. But Gould's greatest work was his mapping of the stars of the southern skies, begun in 1870. The four-year endeavor involved the use of the recently developed photometric method, and upon the publication of its results in 1879 it was received as a signicant contribution to science. He was highly active in securing the establishment of the National Academy of Sciences.*TIS

1843 Gaston Tarry was a French combinatorialist whose best-known work is a method for solving mazes.*SAU

1855 Paul Appell (27 September 1855 – 24 October 1930), also known as Paul Émile Appel, was a French mathematician and Rector of the University of Paris. The concept of Appell polynomials is named after him, as is rue Paul Appell in the 14th arrondissement of Paris.*Wik

1876 Earle Raymond Hedrick (September 27, 1876 – February 3, 1943), was an American mathematician and a vice-president of the University of California. He worked on partial differential equations and on the theory of nonanalytic functions of complex variables. He also did work in applied mathematics, in particular on a generalization of Hooke's law and on transmission of heat in steam boilers. With Oliver Dimon Kellogg he authored a text on the applications of calculus to mechanics.*Wik

1879 Hans Hahn was an Austrian mathematician who is best remembered for the Hahn-Banach theorem. He also made important contributions to the calculus of variations, developing ideas of Weierstrass. *SAU

1918 Sir Martin Ryle (27 Sep 1918; 14 Oct 1984) British radio astronomer who developed revolutionary radio telescope systems and used them for accurate location of weak radio sources. Ryle helped develop radar for British defense during WW II. Afterward, he was a leader in the development of radio astronomy. With his aperture synthesis technique of interferometry he and his team located radio-emitting regions on the sun and pinpointed other radio sources so that they could be studied in visible light. Ryle's 1C - 5C Cambridge catalogues of radio sources led to the discovery of numerous radio galaxies and quasars. Using this technique, eventually radio astronomers surpassed optical astronomers in angular resolution. He observed the most distant known galaxies of the universe. For his aperture synthesis technique, Ryle shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1974 (with Antony Hewish), the first in recognition of astronomical research. He was the 12th Astronomer Royal (1972-82).*TIS

1919 James Hardy Wilkinson (27 September 1919 – 5 October 1986) was a prominent figure in the field of numerical analysis, a field at the boundary of applied mathematics and computer science particularly useful to physics and engineering.
He received the Turing Award in 1970 "for his research in numerical analysis to facilitate the use of the high-speed digital computer, having received special recognition for his work in computations in linear algebra and 'backward' error analysis." In the same year, he also gave the John von Neumann Lecture at the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. The J. H. Wilkinson Prize for Numerical Software is named in his honour.*Wik


1783 Étienne Bézout was a French mathematician who is best known for his theorem on the number of solutions of polynomial equations.*SAU

1997 William Edge graduated from Cambridge and lectured at Edinburgh University. He wrote many papers in Geometry. He became President of the EMS in 1944 and an honorary member in 1983. *SAU

*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

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