Wednesday, 24 October 2012

On This Day in Math - October 24

Monument to Gauss and Weber in Gottingen

Now it is quite clear to me that there are no solid spheres in the heavens, and those that have been devised by authors to save the appearances, exist only in their imagination, for the purpose of permitting the mind to conceive the motion which the heavenly bodies trace in their courses.
~Tycho Brahe

The 298th day of the year; If you multiply 298 by (298 + 3) you get a palindromic number, 89,698. Can every number be similarly adjusted to make a palindrome?


1676 Newton summarized the stage of development of his method in the “Epistola posterior,” which he sent to Oldenburg to transmit to Leibniz. *VFR (see Oct 26, 1676) This may be the first time Newton used irrational exponents in communication to others. It is one of the earlier uses by anyone. In the letter to Oldenburg, Newton he remarks that Leibniz had developed a number of methods, one of which was new to him.

1729 Euler mentioned the gamma function in a letter to Goldbach. In 1826 Legendre gave the function its symbol and name. * F. Cajori, History of Mathematical Notations, vol. 2, p. 271 (the Oct 13 date is for the Julian Calendar still used in Russia when Euler wrote from there. It was the 24th in most of the rest of the world using the Gregorian Calendar.)

1826 Abel wrote Holmboe his impressions of continental mathematics and mathematicians.
Upon reaching Paris from Berlin, he worked on what would be called the Paris Treatise that he submitted to the Academy in October 1826. In this memoir, Abel obtained among other things, an important addition theorem for algebraic integrals. It is also in this treatise that we see the first occurence of the concept of the genus of an algebraic function. Cauchy and Legendre were appointed referees of this memoir. In Paris, Abel was disappointed to find little interest in his work, which he had saved for the Academy. He wrote to Holmboe, “I showed the treatise to Mr. Cauchy, but he scarcely deigned to glance at it."
*Krishnaswami Alladi, NEILS HENRIK ABEL, Norwegian mathematical genius (paper on UFL website)

In 1851, William Lassell discovered Ariel and Umbriel, satellites of Uranus. Like most of the other Uranian moons Ariel is named after a Shakespearean character (Ariel is the captive spirit in The Tempest, also featured in Alexander Pope's Rape of the Lock). Ariel has an approx. diameter of 1160-km, an orbital period of 2.52 days, and orbital radius of 191,240-km from Uranus. The name Umbriel comes from Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock. Umbriel has a diameter of 1170-km, an orbital period of about 4 days and orbit radius of 266,000-km. Lassell, a British astronomer, had previously also discovered Neptune's largest satellite, Triton and (with Bond) discovered Saturn's moon Hyperion. He was a successful brewer before turning to astronomy.*TIS

1902 In Science, George Bruce Halsted wrote that his student R. L. Moore, who had proved that one of Hilbert’s betweenness axioms was redundant, “was displaced in favor of a local schoolmarm,” Miss Mary E. Decherd. *VFR Halstead was contentious in many ways, and Moore's rejection may have been a response to the fact that Halstead had suggested him. Halstead would be fired himself on December 11 of the same year. *D. Reginald Traylor , Creative Teaching: The Heritage of R. L. Moore, pg 35-37

1904 Emmy Noether matriculated at the University of Erlangen. *VFR

1989 “Welcome to the White House on this glorious fall day. I’m sorry if I’m just a little bit late. I was sitting in there trying to solve a few quadratic equations. [Laughter] Somewhat more difficult than balancing the budget, I might say. And then I thought it might be appropriate to have a moment of silence in memory of those substitute teachers back home. [Laughter].” Remarks by President George Bush (the elder) at the Presentation Ceremony for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science and Math Teaching.

1994 Lynchburg College Professor Thomas Nicely, Reports a flaw in the Pentium chip by Intel that he discovered while he was trying to calculate Brun's constant,(The sum of the reciprocals of all the twin primes, 1/3+1/5+1/5+1/7+1/11+1/13.... which converges to about 1.902).
The Pentium chip occasionally gave wrong answers to a floating-point (decimal) division calculations due to errors in five entries in a lookup table on the chip. Intel spent millions of dollars replacing the faulty chips.
Nicely first noticed some inconsistencies in the calculations on June 13, 1994 shortly after adding a Pentium system to his group of computers, but was unable to eliminate other factors until October 19, 1994. On October 24, 1994 he reported the issue to Intel. According to Nicely, his contact person at Intel later admitted that Intel had been aware of the problem since May 1994, when the flaw was discovered during testing of the FPU for its new P6 core, first used in the Pentium Pro. *Wik


1632 Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (24 Oct 1632; 26 Aug 1723.) Dutch microscopist who was the first to observe bacteria and protozoa. His researches on lower animals refuted the doctrine of spontaneous generation, and his observations helped lay the foundations for the sciences of bacteriology and protozoology.*TIS "The 31th of May, I perceived in the same water more of those Animals, as also some that were somewhat bigger. And I imagine, that [ten hundred thousand] of these little Creatures do not equal an ordinary grain of Sand in bigness: And comparing them with a Cheese-mite (which may be seen to move with the naked eye) I make the proportion of one of these small Water-creatures to a Cheese-mite, to be like that of a Bee to a Horse: For, the circumference of one of these little Animals in water, is not so big as the thickness of a hair in a Cheese-mite. "

1804 Wilhelm Eduard Weber (24 Oct 1804; 23 Jun 1891)German physicist who investigated terrestrial magnetism. For six years, from 1831, Weber worked in close collaboration with Gauss. Weber developed sensitive magnetometers, an electromagnetic telegraph (1833) and other magnetic instruments during this time. His later work (1855) on the ratio between the electrodynamic and electrostatic units of charge proved extremely important and was crucial to Maxwell in his electromagnetic theory of light. (Weber found the ratio was 3.1074 x 108 m/sec but failed to take any notice of the fact that this was close to the speed of light.) Weber's later years were devoted to work in electrodynamics and the electrical structure of matter. The magnetic unit, weber, is named after him.*TIS

1821 Philipp Ludwig von Seidel (23 October 1821, Zweibrücken, Germany – 13 August 1896, Munich) born. He formulated the notion of uniform convergence.*VFR 
was a German mathematician. His mother was Julie Reinhold and his father was Justus Christian Felix Seidel.
Lakatos credits von Seidel with discovering, in 1847, the crucial analytic concept of uniform convergence, while analyzing an incorrect proof of Cauchy's. In 1857, von Seidel decomposed the first order monochromatic aberrations into five constituent aberrations. They are now commonly referred to as the five Seidel Aberrations.   The Gauss–Seidel method is a useful numerical iterative method for solving linear systems. *Wik

1853 Heinrich Maschke (24 October 1853 in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland) – 1 March 1908 Chicago, Illinois, USA) was a German mathematician who proved Maschke's theorem.*Wik

1873 Sir Edmund Taylor Whittaker (24 Oct 1873; 24 Mar 1956) English mathematician who made pioneering contributions to the area of the special functions, which is of particular interest in mathematical physics. Whittaker is best known work is in analysis, in particular numerical analysis, but he also worked on celestial mechanics and the history of applied mathematics and physics. He wrote papers on algebraic functions and automorphic functions. His results in partial differential equations (described as most sensational by Watson) included a general solution of the Laplace equation in three dimensions in a particular form and the solution of the wave equation. On the applied side of mathematics he was interested in relativity theory and he also worked on electromagnetic theory. *TIS

1898 Lillian Rose Vorhaus Kruskal Oppenheimer (October 24, 1898 in New York City – July 24, 1992) was an American origami pioneer. She popularized origami in the West starting in the 1950s, and is credited with popularizing the Japanese term origami in English-speaking circles, which gradually supplanted the literal translation paper folding that had been used earlier. In the 1960s she co-wrote several popular books on origami with Shari Lewis.
She was the mother of three sons William Kruskal(developed the Kruskal-Wallis one-way analysis of variance), Martin David Kruskal(co-inventor of solitons and of surreal numbers), and Joseph Kruskal ( Kruskal's algorithm for computing the minimal spanning tree (MST) of a weighted graph) who all went on to be prominent mathematicians. Her grandson Clyde P. Kruskal (son of Martin) is an American computer scientist,working on parallel computing architectures, models, and algorithms. *Wik
1906 Aleksandr Osipovich Gelfond (24 Oct 1906; 7 Nov 1968) Russian mathematician who originated basic techniques in the study of transcendental numbers (numbers that cannot be expressed as the root or solution of an algebraic equation with rational coefficients). He profoundly advanced transcendental-number theory, and the theory of interpolation and approximation of complex-variable functions. He established the transcendental character of any number of the form ab, where a is an algebraic number different from 0 or 1 and b is any irrational algebraic number, which is now known as Gelfond's theorem. This statement solved the seventh of 23 famous problems that had been posed by the German mathematician David Hilbert in 1900. *TIS

1922 Werner Buchholz​ was born. He was a member of the teams that designed the IBM 701​ and Stretch models. Buchholz used term byte to describe eight bits—although in the 1950s, when the term first was used, equipment used six-bit chunks of information, and a byte equaled six bits. Buchholz described a byte as a group of bits to encode a character, or the numbers of bits transmitted in parallel to and from input-output. *CHM

1932 Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (24 Oct 1932; 18 May 2007) French physicist who was awarded the 1991 Nobel Prize for Physics for "discovering that methods developed for studying order phenomena in simple systems can be generalized to more complex forms of matter, in particular to liquid crystals and polymers." He described mathematically how, for example, magnetic dipoles, long molecules or molecule chains can under certain conditions form ordered states, and what happens when they pass from an ordered to a disordered state. Such changes of order occur when, for example, a heated magnet changes from a state in which all the small atomic magnets are lined up in parallel to a disordered state in which the magnets are randomly oriented. Recently, he has been concerned with the physical chemistry of adhesion. *TIS


1601 Tycho Brahe died. Kepler inherited his vast accurate collection of astronomical data. He used this to derive his laws of planetary motion. *VFR In 1901, on the three hundredth anniversary of his death, the bodies of Tycho Brahe and his wife Kirstine were exhumed in Prague. They had been embalmed and were in remarkably good condition, but the astronomer’s artificial nose was missing, apparently filched by someone after his death. It had been made for him in gold and silver when his original nose was sliced off in a duel he fought in his youth at Rostock University after a quarrel over some obscure mathematical point. He always carried a small box of glue in his pocket for use when the new nose became wobbly. Tycho Brahe was famous for the most accurate and precise observations achieved by any astronomer before the invention of the telescope. Born to an aristocratic family in Denmark in 1546, he was one of twin boys – the other twin was still-born – and while still a baby Tycho was stolen from his parents by a rich, childless uncle, who paid for his education and sent him to Leipzig University to study law. His imagination had been fired, however, by a total eclipse of the sun in 1560 and he was determined to be an astronomer. He found that the existing tables recording the positions of planets and stars were wildly inaccurate and dedicated himself to correcting them. *History Today Was Tycho Murdered? Read an excellent blog on "The crazy life and crazier death of Tycho Brahe, history’s strangest astronomer".

1635 Wilhelm Shickard 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.

1655 Pierre Gassendi (22 Jan 1592, 24 Oct 1655) French scientist, mathematician, and philosopher who revived Epicureanism as a substitute for Aristotelianism, attempting in the process to reconcile Atomism's mechanistic explanation of nature with Christian belief in immortality, free will, an infinite God, and creation. Johannes Kepler had predicted a transit of Mercury would occur in 1631. Gassendi used a Galilean telescope to observed the transit, by projecting the sun's image on a screen of paper. He wrote on astronomy, his own astronomical observations and on falling bodies. *TIS

1870 Charles Joseph Minard (27 Mar 1781; 24 Oct 1870 at age 89) French civil engineer who made significant contributions to the graphical representations of data. His best-known work, Carte figurative des pertes successives en hommes de l'Armee Français dans la campagne de Russe 1812-1813, dramatically displays the number of Napoleon's soldiers by the width of an ever-reducing band drawn across a map from France to Moscow. At its origin, a wide band shows 442,000 soldiers left France, narrowing across several hundred miles to 100,000 men reaching Moscow. With a parallel temperature graph displaying deadly frigid Russian winter temperatures along the way, the band shrinks during the retreat to a pathetic thin trickle of 10,000 survivors returning to their homeland. *TIS

1930 Paul Emile Appell (27 Sept 1855 in Strasbourg, France - 24 Oct 1930) Appell's first paper in 1876 was based on projective geometry continuing work of Chasles. He then wrote on algebraic functions, differential equations and complex analysis. In 1878 he noted the physical significance of the imaginary period of elliptic functions in the solution of the pendulum which had been though to be purely a mathematical curiosity. He showed that the double periodicity follows from physical considerations. *SAU

1940 Pierre-Ernest Weiss (25 Mar 1865, 24 Oct 1940) French physicist who investigated magnetism and determined the Weiss magneton unit of magnetic moment. Weiss's chief work was on ferromagnetism. Hypothesizing a molecular magnetic field acting on individual atomic magnetic moments, he was able to construct mathematical descriptions of ferromagnetic behaviour, including an explanation of such magnetocaloric phenomena as the Curie point. His theory succeeded also in predicting a discontinuity in the specific heat of a ferromagnetic substance at the Curie point and suggested that spontaneous magnetization could occur in such materials; the latter phenomenon was later found to occur in very small regions known as Weiss domains. His major published work was Le magnetisme ( 1926).*TIS

*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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