Thursday, 29 November 2012

On This Day in Math - November 29



I did try to make things clear, first to myself and then to my students, 
and somehow to make these dry bones live.
~Horace Lamb

The 334th day of the year; 334 is an even semi-prime, and together with 335 form a semi-prime pair. (There will be one more day this year that is part of a semi-prime pair, can you find it?)



EVENTS
1114 An Earthquake devastated the town of Antioch in Turkey. In the suburb of Mamistra, the young mathematician, Adelard of Bath, freshly to the Middle East to study the wisdom of the Arabs, clung to a stone bridge in fear for his life. *Jonathan Lyons, The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization
1877 It was on this day, November 29, 1877, that Thomas Edison demonstrated his hand-cranked phonograph. *Thomas Robb

1907 Florence Nightingale was presented with the Order of Merit. *@EnglishHeritage

In 1932, a U.S. patent was issued for the first card game table with an automatic dealing device, to Laurens Hammond of Chicago, Ill. (No. 1,889,729), who later invented the Hammond organ. When cards were played in a recessed tray, four shuffled 13-card bridge hands were delivered to the players. A rotatary mechanism built within the square game table had an arm with a rubber tip to pick up and carry cards from the deck to the player. The destination hand was controlled by a serrated wheel with varied notch depths in 52 positions. A deal took about one minute. Marketed for a few years from 1932, the invention was an attempt to diversify Hammond's declining clock business during the depression-era, but sold poorly.*TIS

1960 Digital Equipment Company (DEC) announces the PDP-1, the first computer with a video display terminal. *VFR

1972 Atari Corporation announces Pong, an early video game popular both at home and at video arcades. In Pong, players were represented by paddles that could move up and down to try to deflect a ball and keep it from passing into their goal. Despite simplistic graphics, Pong started a craze. Atari, founded by Nolan Bushnell, sold video games as well as computers on which to play the games. (Oh for the days of REAL video games!")*TIS



BIRTHS
1803 Christian Doppler (29 Nov 1803; 17 Mar 1853) Austrian physicist who first described how the observed frequency of light and sound waves is affected by the relative motion of the source and the detector, known as the Doppler effect. In 1845, to test his hypothesis, Doppler used two sets of trumpeters: one set stationary at a train station and one set moving on an open train car, all holding the same note. As the train passed the station, it was obvious that the frequency of the notes from the two groups didn't match. Sound waves would have a higher frequency if the source was moving toward the observer and a lower freqency if the source was moving away from the observer. Edwin Hubble used the Doppler effect of light from distant stars to determine that the universe is expanding.*TIS

1849 Sir John Ambrose Fleming (29 Nov 1849; 18 Apr 1945) English engineer who made numerous contributions to electronics, photometry, electric measurements, and wireless telegraphy. In 1904, he discovered the one directional current effect between a positively biassed electrode, which he called the anode, and the heated filament in an evacuated glass tube; the electrons flowed from filament to anode only. Fleming called the device a diode because it contained two electrodes, the anode and the heated filament. He noted that when an alternating current was applied, only the positive halves of the waves were passed - that is, the wave was rectified (from a.c. to d.c.). It would also take a radio frequency wave and produce d.c.corresponding to the on and off of the Morse code transmitted signals.*TIS

1847 Alfred George Greenhill (29 Nov 1847 in London, England - 10 Feb 1927 in London, england) graduated from Cambridge and became Professor of Mathematics at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. His main work was on Elliptic Functions but he published widely on applications of mathematics to practical problems. He became an honorary member of the EMS in 1908. *SAU

1849 Horace Lamb (29 Nov 1849 in Stockport, England - 4 Dec 1934 in Cambridge, England) wrote important texts and made important contributions to applied mathematics, in particular to acoustics and fluid dynamics. Describing his own teaching at the celebrations for his eightieth birthday, Lamb said, "I did try to make things clear, first to myself (an important point) and then to my students, and somehow to make these dry bones live." *SAU

1866 Ernest (William) Brown (29 Nov 1866; 22 July 1938) was a British astronomer who devoted his career to the theory of the Moon's motion and constructing accurate lunar tables. His theory took account of "the gravitational action of every particle of matter which can have a sensible effect on the Moon's motion," some 1500 terms. He then determined the numerical values of the constants by analyzing 150 years of Greenwich observations, and computed tables accurate to 0.01 arcsec. After 30 years of work, Brown published his lunar tables Tables of the Motion of the Moon in 1919. In 1926 Brown published a paper in which he ascribed fluctuations in the Moon's motion to irregular changes in the Earth's period of rotation, which has subsequently proved correct.*TIS

1879 Nikolai Mitrofanovich Krylov (29 Nov 1879 in St Petersburg, Russia - 11 May 1955 in Moscow, USSR) was a Russian mathematician who published over 200 papers on analysis and mathematical physics. *SAU

1892 Dr. Gustav Doetsch (November 29, 1892 – June 9, 1977) was a German mathematician, aviation researcher, decorated war veteran, and became a enthusiastic Nazi supporter. The modern formation and permanent structure of the Laplace transform is found in Doetsch's 1937 work Theorie und Anwendung der Laplace-Transformation, which was well-received internationally. He dedicated most of his research and scientific activity to the Laplace transform, and his books on the subject became standard texts throughout the world, translated into several languages. His texts were the first to apply the Laplace transform to engineering. *Wik

1959 Richard Ewen Borcherds (29 Nov 1959, ) British mathematician who won the Fields Medal in 1998 for his for his work in the fields of algebra and geometry, in particular for his proof of the so-called Moonshine conjecture. This conjecture had been formulated at the end of the '70s by the British mathematicians John Conway and Simon Norton and presents two mathematical structures in such an unexpected relationship that the experts gave it the name "Moonshine." In 1989, Borcherds was able to cast some more light on the mathematical background of this topic and to produce a proof for the conjecture. The Moonshine conjecture provides an interrelationship between the so-called "monster group" and elliptic functions. *TIS

DEATHS
1687 Nicolaus(I) Bernoulli (21 Oct 1687 in Basel, Switzerland - 29 Nov 1759 in Basel) Nicolaus Bernoulli was one of the famous Swiss family of mathematicians. He is most important for his correspondence with other mathematicians including Euler and Leibniz. *SAU (Can't tell your Bernoulli's without a scorecard? Check out "A Confusion of Bernoulli's" by the Renaissance Mathematicus.)

1872 Mary Fairfax Greig Somerville (26 Dec 1780 in Jedburgh, Roxburghshire, Scotland
- 29 Nov 1872 in Naples, Italy) Somerville wrote many works which influenced Maxwell. Her discussion of a hypothetical planet perturbing Uranus led Adams to his investigation. Mary Somerville was a strong supporter of women's education and women's suffrage. When John Stuart Mill, the British philosopher and economist, organised a massive petition to parliament to give women the right to vote, he had Mary put her signature first on the petition.Somerville College in Oxford was named after her.*SAU

1920 Thomas Bond Sprague (29 March 1830 in London, England - 29 Nov 1920 in Edinburgh, Scotland) studied at Cambridge and went on to become the most important actuary of the late 19th Century. He wrote more than 100 papers including many in the Proceedings of the EMS. *SAU

1953 Ernest Barnes (1 April 1874 in Birmingham, England - 29 Nov 1953 in Sussex, England) In all, Barnes wrote 29 mathematical papers during the years 1897-1910. His early work was concerned with various aspects of the gamma function, including generalisations of this function given by the so-called Barnes G-function, which satisfies the equation G(z+1)=G(z)Γ(z) and to the double gamma function. Barnes next turned his attention to the theory of integral functions, where, in a series of papers, he investigated their asymptotic structure. He also considered second-order linear difference equations connected with the hypergeometric functions. In the last five of his papers dealing with the hypergeometric functions, Barnes made extensive use of the integrals studied by Mellin in which the integral. *SAU

1992 Jean Dieudonné (1 Jul 1906, 29 Nov 1992) French mathematician and educator known for his writings on abstract algebra, functional analysis, topology, and his theory of Lie groups. Dieudonné was one of the two main contributors to the Bourbaki series of texts. He began his mathematical career working on the analysis of polynomials. He worked in a wide variety of mathematical areas including general topology, topological vector spaces, algebraic geometry, invariant theory and the classical groups. *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
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