Tuesday, 23 October 2012

On This Day in Math - October 23



God exists since mathematics is consistent, and the devil exists since its consistency cannot be proved.
~Hermann Klaus Hugo Weyl

The 297th day of the year; 2972 = 88209 and 88+209 = 297. (Numbers that have this property are a type of Kaprekar number; there are only three such numbers of three digits, now you know one of them.)


EVENTS

4004 B.C. The date of the creation of the world according to the computation of Archbishop James Usher (1581–1656), who had a curious fascination for the integration of numerology, astronomy, and scripture. It was highly regarded for several centuries primarily because in 1701 it was inserted into the margin of the King James version of the Bible. *Sky and Telescope, vol. 62, Nov. 81, 404–405.

526 Boethius executed.Boethius translated Nicomachus's treatise on arithmetic (De institutione arithmetica libri duo) as well as Euclid and Iamblichus.
There is a long tradition, going back at least to the eighth century, regarding Boethius as having been executed for maintaining the Catholic faith against the Arian Theodoric. While Theodoric was probably paranoid about spies representing the Catholic eastern emperor-in-waiting Justinian (who would, in fact, later “reconquer” the Italian peninsula), and Boethius claims in the Consolation that he was hated for being smarter than everyone else, the truth is probably that he was caught up in the usual machinations of an imperial court.
A member of the Senate was accused of treasonably conspiring with Justinian’s predecessor Justin I against Theodoric. Boethius defended the accused (apparently the only person to do so, although the charges were surely trumped up), and in the Consolation, Boethius says he was only defending the Senate (implying that the accusations were meant to undermine the authority of the Senate by challenging its loyalty to the king).
In any event, the sources we have say that Boethius was condemned by the Senate (who appear to have thrown him under the bus) without being able to speak in his own defense. After an indeterminate time of imprisonment, he was executed.
It was while he awaited death that he wrote his most famous and arguably most influential work, The Consolation of Philosophy.” From “Executed Today” web site

1676 Hooke's diary records that he had “Mercator's Music” copied on 23 October . This is "Mercator's earliest thinking on music, has major sections on the consonances and on the arithmetic of proportions using ratios or using logarithms. *Benjamin Wardhaugh, Historia Mathematica, Volume 35, Issue 1, February 2008, Pages 19–36
In 1803, John Dalton presented an essay on the absorption of gases by water, at the conclusion of which he gave a series of atomic weights for 21 simple and compound elements. He read his paper at a meeting of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society. *TIS

1852 August DeMorgan reported the conjecture of his student, Francis Guthrie: Four colors suffice to color planar maps so that adjacent regions have different color. It was solved by Kenneth Appel and Wolfgang Haken in 1976. In a letter to W.R. Hamilton he recalls, “A student of mine asked me today to give him a reason for a fact which I did not know was a fact – and do not yet. He says that if a figure be anyhow divided, and the compartments differently colored so that figures with any portion of common boundary line are differently colored --- four colors may be wanted, but not more…” *Dave Richeson, Euler’s Gem, pg 132)


1892  The Duck-Rabbit double illusion was first published in Fliegende Blätter, a German humor magazine (Oct. 23, 1892, p. 147). The ambiguous figure in which the brain switches between seeing a rabbit and a duckwas "originally noted" by American psychologist Joseph Jastrow (Jastrow 1899, p. 312; 1900; see also Brugger and Brugger 1993). Jastrow used the figure, together with such figures as the Necker cube and Schröder stairs, to point out that perception is not just a product of the stimulus, but also of mental activity (Kihlstrom 2002). Jastrow's cartoon was based on one originally published in Harper's Weekly (Nov. 19, 1892, p. 1114) which, in turn, was based on the earlier illustration in Fliegende Blätter,*Mathworld.Wolfram.com

2011 Today is Mole Day. Celebrated annually on October 23 from 6:02 a.m. to 6:02 p.m., Mole Day commemorates Avogadro's Number (6.02 x 10^23) (Which I recently learned from John D. Cook was approximately 24 factorial or 24!) , which is a basic measuring unit in chemistry. Mole Day was created as a way to foster interest in chemistry. Schools throughout the United States and around the world celebrate Mole Day with various activities related to chemistry and/or moles.
For a given molecule, one mole is a mass (in grams) whose number is equal to the atomic mass of the molecule. For example, the water molecule has an atomic mass of 18, therefore one mole of water weighs 18 grams. An atom of neon has an atomic mass of 20, therefore one mole of neon weighs 20 grams. In general, one mole of any substance contains Avogadro's Number of molecules or atoms of that substance. This relationship was first discovered by Amadeo Avogadro (1776-1858) and he received credit for this after his death. *Mole Day Org web page



BIRTHS

1865 Piers Bohl (23 Oct 1865 in Walka, Livonia (now Valka, Latvia) - 25 Dec 1921 in Riga, Latvia) Among Bohl's achievements was, rather remarkably, to prove Brouwer's fixed-point theorem for a continuous mapping of a sphere into itself. Clearly the world was not ready for this result since it provoked little interest.
Bohl also studied questions regarding whether the fractional parts of certain functions give a uniform distribution. His work in this area was carried forward independently by Weyl and Sierpinski. There are many seemingly simple questions in this area which still seem to be open. For example it is still unknown whether the fractional parts of (3/2)n form a uniform distribution on (0,1) or even if there is some finite subinterval of (0,1) which is avoided by the sequence. *SAU

1875 Gilbert Newton Lewis (23 Oct 1875, 23 Mar 1946 at age 70) American chemist who collaborated with Irving Langmuir in developing an atomic theory. He developed a theory of valency, which introduced the covalent bond (c. 1916), whereby a chemical combination is made between two atoms by the sharing of a pair of electrons, one contributed from each atom. This was part of his more general octet theory, published in Valence and the Structure of Atoms and Molecules (1923). Lewis visualized the electrons in an atom as being arranged in concentric cubes. The sharing of these electrons he illustrated in the Lewis dot diagrams familiar to chemistry students. He generalized the concept of acids and bases now known as Lewis acids and Lewis bases. *TIS

1893 Ernest Julius Öpik (23 Oct 1893; 10 Sep 1985) Estonian astronomer best known for his studies of meteors and meteorites, and whose life work was devoted to understanding the structure and evolution of the cosmos. When Soviet occupation of Estonia was imminent, he moved to Hamburg, then to Armagh Observatory, Northern Ireland (1948-81). Among his many pioneering discoveries were: (1) the first computation of the density of a degenerate body, namely the white dwarf 40 Eri B, in 1915; (2) the first accurate determination of the distance of an extragalactic object (Andromeda Nebula) in 1922; (3) the prediction of the existence of a cloud of cometary bodies encircling the Solar System (1932), later known as the ``Oort Cloud''; (4) the first composite theoretical models of dwarf stars like the Sun which showed how they evolve into giants (1938); (5) a new theory of the origin of the Ice Ages (1952). *TIS

1905 Felix Bloch (23 Oct 1905; 10 Sep 1983) Swiss-born American physicist who shared (with independent discoverer, E.M. Purcell) the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1952 for developing the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) method of measuring the magnetic field of atomic nuclei. He obtained his PhD under Werner Heisenberg in 1928, then taught briefly in Germany, but as a Jew, when Hitler came to power, he left Europe for the USA. Bloch's concept of magnetic neutron polarization (1934) enabled him, in conjunction with L. Alvarez, to measure the neutron's magnetic moment. During WW II he worked on the atomic bomb. Thereafter, Bloch and co-workers developed NMR, now widely used technique in chemistry, biochemistry, and medicine. In 1954 he became the first director of CERN.*TIS

1908 Ilya Mikhaylovich Frank (23 Oct 1908; 22 June 1990) Russian physicist who, with Igor Y. Tamm, theoretically explained the mechanism of Cherenkov radiation. In 1934, Cherenkov discovered that a peculiar blue light is emitted by charged particles traveling at very high speeds through water. Frank and Tamm provided the theoretical explanation of this effect, which occurs when the particles travel through an optically transparent medium at speeds greater than the speed of light in that medium. This discovery resulted in the development of new methods for detecting and measuring the velocity of high-speed particles and became of great importance for research in nuclear physics. For this, Frank received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1958 (jointly with Pavel A. Cherenkov and Igor Y. Tamm). *TIS

1920 Tetsuya Theodore Fujita (23 Oct 1920; 19 Nov 1998) was a Japanese-American meteorologist who increased the knowledge of severe storms. In 1953, he began research in the U.S. Shortly afterwards, he immigrated and established the Severe Local Storms Project. He was known as "Mr. Tornado" as a result of the Fujita scale (F-scale, Feb 1971), which he and his wife, Sumiko, developed for measuring tornadoes on the basis of their damage. Following the crash of Eastern flight 66 on 24 Jun 1975, he reviewed weather-related aircraft disasters and verified the downburst and the microburst (small downburst) phenomena, enabling airplane pilots to be trained on how to react to them. Late in his career, he turned to the study of storm tracks and El Nino. *TIS



DEATHS

1581 Michael Neander (April 3, 1529 – October 23, 1581) German mathematician and astronomer was born in Joachimsthal, Bohemia, and was educated at the University of Wittenberg, receiving his B.A. in 1549 and M.A. in 1550.
From 1551 until 1561 he taught mathematics and astronomy in Jena, Germany. He became a professor in 1558 when the school where he taught became a university. From 1560 until his death he was a professor of medicine at the University of Jena. He died in Jena, Germany. The crater Neander on the Moon is named after him. *Wik

1944 Charles Glover Barkla (7 Jun 1877, 23 Oct 1944) was a British physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1917 for his work on X-ray scattering. This technique is applied to the investigation of atomic structures, by studying how X-rays passing through a material and are deflected by the atomic electrons. In 1903, he showed that the scattering of x-rays by gases depends on the molecular weight of the gas. His experiments on the polarization of x-rays (1904) and the direction of scattering of a beam of x-rays (1907) showed X-rays to be electromagnetic radiation like light (whereas, at the time, William Henry Bragg who held that X-rays were particles.) Barkla further discovered that each element has its own characteristic x-ray spectrum. *TIS

1985 John Semple studied at Queen's University Belfast and Cambridge. He held a post in Edinburgh for a year before becoming Professor of Pure Mathematics at Queen's College Belfast. He moved to King's College London where he spent the rest of his career. His most important work was in Algebraic geometry. *SAU

2007 David George Kendall FRS (15 January 1918 – 23 October 2007)[2] was an English statistician, who spent much of his academic life in the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. He worked with M. S. Bartlett during the war, and visited Princeton University after the war. He was appointed the first Professor of Mathematical Statistics in the Statistical Laboratory, University of Cambridge in 1962, in which post he remained until his retirement in 1985. He was elected to a professorial fellowship at Churchill College, and he was a founding trustee of the Rollo Davidson Trust.
Kendall was a world expert in probability and data analysis, and pioneered statistical shape analysis including the study of ley lines. He defined Kendall's notation for queueing theory.
The Royal Statistical Society awarded him the Guy Medal in Silver in 1955, followed in 1981 by the Guy Medal in Gold. In 1980 the London Mathematical Society awarded Kendall their Senior Whitehead Prize, and in 1989 their De Morgan Medal. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1964. *Wik

2011 John McCarthy (September 4, 1927 – October 23, 2011) was an American computer scientist and cognitive scientist who received the Turing Award in 1971 for his major contributions to the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). He was responsible for the coining of the term "Artificial Intelligence" in his 1955 proposal for the 1956 Dartmouth Conference and was the inventor of the LISP programming language.*wik


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
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