Monday, 4 February 2013

On This Day in Math - February 4

Archimedes *

Technical skill is mastery of complexity while creativity is mastery of simplicity.
~ Sir Erik Christopher Zeeman

The 35th day of the year; There are 35 hexominos, the polyominoes made from 6 squares. *Number Gossip

1600 Johannes Kepler arrives at Benatek Castle near Prague, where Tycho Brahe had moved his observatory, and retinue, after his benafactor King Frederick drank himself to death. *Timothy Ferris, Coming of Age in the Milky Way

1753 Writing about his Experiments and Observations on Electricity made at Philadelphia in America, a work Diderot called the best example of the experimental art with which he was acquainted, Benjamin Franklin (in a letter to John Perkins) boasted that he had “not, with some of our learned moderns, disguised [his] nonsense in Greek, clothed it in algebra, or adorned it with fluxions.” *Thomas L. Hankins, Jean d’Alembert, p 4 (via VFR) (This is in contrast to the quote by Lelande that d'Alembert "had never held a prism in his hand.")

1841 First recorded reference to "Groundhog Day" in America:
When German settlers arrived in the 1700s, they brought a tradition known as Candlemas Day, which has an early origin in the pagan celebration of Imbolc. It came at the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Superstition held that if the weather was fair, the second half of Winter would be stormy and cold. For the early Christians in Europe, it was the custom on Candlemas Day for clergy to bless candles and distribute them to the people in the dark of Winter. A lighted candle was placed in each window of the home. The day's weather continued to be important. If the sun came out February 2, halfway between Winter and Spring, it meant six more weeks of wintry weather.

The earliest American reference to Groundhog Day can be found at the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center at Franklin and Marshall College:

February 4, 1841 - from Morgantown, Berks County (Pennsylvania) storekeeper James Morris' diary..."Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate."

According to the old English saying:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.

In 1868, Charles Darwin began writing his book The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. He was now 69 years old, working in his home in Downe, England. *TIS

1995 The Connect Four game was mathematically solved first by James D. Allen (Oct 1, 1988), and independently by Victor Allis (Oct 16, 1988). First player can force a win. Strongly solved by John Tromp's 8-ply database (Feb 4, 1995). Weakly solved for all boardsizes where width+height is at most 15 (Feb 18, 2006). *Wik

1896 Friedrich (Hermann) Hund (4 Feb 1896 - 31 Mar 1997) was a German physicist known for his work on the electronic structure of atoms and molecules. He introduced a method of using molecular orbitals to determine the electronic structure of molecules and chemical bond formation. His empirical Hund's Rules (1925) for atomic spectra determine the lowest energy level for two electrons having the same n and l quantum numbers in a many-electron atom. The lowest energy state has the maximum multiplicity consistent with the Pauli exclusion principle. The lowest energy state has the maximum total electron orbital angular momentum quantum number, consistent with rule. They are explained by the quantum theory of atoms by calculations involving the repulsion between two electrons. *TIS

1906 Clyde William Tombaugh (4 Feb 1906 on Ranch near Streator, Illinois - 17 Jan 1997) was an American astronomer who discovered what was then recognized as the planet Pluto, which he photographed on 23 Jan 1930, the only planet discovered in the twentieth century, after a systematic search instigated by the predictions of other astronomers. Tombaugh was 24 years of age when he made this discovery at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz. He also discovered several clusters of stars and galaxies, studied the apparent distribution of extragalactic nebulae, and made observations of the surfaces of Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon.Born of poor farmers, his first telescope was made of parts from worn-out farming equipment. *TIS
From my personal blog after a visit to Mars Hill, Flagstaff, Az. (much material from Wikipedia)
In the late 19th and early 20th century, observers of Mars drew long straight lines that appeared on the surface between 60 degrees north and south of the martian equator. Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli called these lines canali, which became canals in English. Lowell extended this observation to a theory that Mars had polar ice caps that would melt in the martian spring and fill the canals. He even extended the theory to include intelligent life on Mars that had designed the canals.
Eventually it became clear that there were no martian canals, but Mars hill went on to be the sight where a self educated Kansas schoolboy found his dream of working in astronomy in 1929, when the observatory director, V M Slipher, "handed the job of locating Planet X to Clyde Tombaugh, a 23-year-old Kansas man who had just arrived at the Lowell Observatory after Slipher had been impressed by a sample of his astronomical drawings."
On the nights of Jan 23 and 30th of January, 1830, he found a planet in the images that he thought was the Planet X. "The discovery made front page news around the world. The Lowell Observatory, who had the right to name the new object, received over 1000 suggestions, from "Atlas" to "Zymal". Tombaugh urged Slipher to suggest a name for the new object quickly before someone else did. Name suggestions poured in from all over the world. Constance Lowell proposed Zeus, then Lowell, and finally her own first name. These suggestions were disregarded.
The name "Pluto" was proposed by Venetia Burney (later Venetia Phair), an eleven-year-old schoolgirl in Oxford, England. Venetia was interested in classical mythology as well as astronomy, and considered the name, one of the alternate names of Hades, the Greek god of the Underworld, appropriate for such a presumably dark and cold world. She suggested it in a conversation with her grandfather Falconer Madan, a former librarian of Oxford University's Bodleian Library. Madan passed the name to Professor Herbert Hall Turner, who then cabled it to colleagues in America. The object was officially named on March 24, 1930."
Among the many awards Tombaugh received was a scholarship to the Univ of Kansas, where he would eventually earn a Bachelors and Masters Degree. It is said that the Astronomy Dept head refused to allow him to take the introductory astronomy class because it would be undignified for the discoverer of a planet.

1925 Sir Erik Christopher Zeeman FRS (born 4 February 1925), is a Japanese-born British mathematician known for his work in geometric topology and singularity theory. His main contributions to mathematics were in topology, particularly in knot theory, the piecewise linear category, and dynamical systems.
Zeeman is known among the wider scientific public for his contribution to, and spreading awareness of catastrophe theory, which was due initially to another topologist, René Thom, and for his Christmas lectures about mathematics on television in 1978. He was especially active encouraging the application of mathematics, and catastrophe theory in particular, to biology and behavioral sciences.*Wik

1926 Jaroslav Hájek (4 Feb 1926 in Podebrady, Bohemia (now Czech Republic) - 10 June 1974 in Prague, Czechoslovakia) He was among the pioneers of unequal probability sampling. The name "Hájek predictor" now labels his contributions to the use of auxiliary data in estimating population means. In 1967 Hájek published (jointly with Z Sidak) Theory of rank tests but it was a work which had in fact been written four years before in 1963. Their methods use three lemmas of Le Cam in order to treat rank statistics under local alternatives and they established the efficiency of rank tests. *SAU

1927 Rolf William Landauer (4 Feb 1927; 27 Apr 1999) German-born American physicist known for his formulation of Landauer's principle concerning the energy used during a computer's operation. Whenever the machine is resetting for another computation, bits are flushed from the computer's memory, and in that electronic operation, a certain amount of energy is lost. Thus, when information is erased, there is an inevitable "thermodynamic cost of forgetting," which governs the development of more energy-efficient computers. While engineers dealt with practical limitations of compacting ever more circuitry onto tiny chips, Landauer considered the theoretical limit, that if technology improved indefinitely, how soon will it run into the insuperable barriers set by nature?*TIS

1948 Ken Thompson Is Born.
Kenneth Thompson, who with Dennis Ritchie developed UNIX at AT&T Bell Laboratories, is born. The UNIX operating system combined many of the timesharing and file management features offered by Multics, from which it took its name. (Multics, a projects of the mid - 1960s, represented the first effort at creating a multi-user, multi-tasking operating system.) The UNIX operating system quickly secured a wide following, particularly among engineers and scientists. *CHM

1615 Giambattista della Porta (? Oct 1535 - 4 Feb 1615) Italian natural philosopher, experimenter and mathematician, though he also sought the miraculous or magical. He studied optics, including refraction (De refractione, 1593). Porta did not invent the telescope, regardless of his published claim. He was the first to propose adding a convex lens to the camera obscura, and first to recognize the heating effect of light rays. He wrote on cryptography in De furtivis literarum (1563), and his other books included mechanics, squaring the circle, description of a steam engine in De spiritali (1606). He formed the society, Accademia dei Segreti, dedicated to discussing and studying nature, meeting at his home, until closed by the Inquisition (about 1578). *TIS

1774 Charles-Marie de La Condamine (27 Jan 1701, 4 Feb 1774) French naturalist and mathematician who became particularly interested in geodesy (earth measurement). He was put in charge by the King of France of an expedition to Equador to measure a meridional arc at the equator (1735-43). It was wished to determine whether the Earth was either flattened or elongated at its poles. He then accomplished the first scientific exploration of the Amazon River (1743) on a raft, studying the region, and brought the drug curare to Europe. He also worked on establishment of a universal unit of length, and is credited with developing the idea of vaccination against smallpox, later perfected by Edward Jenner. However, he was almost constantly ill and died in 1773, deaf and completely paralyzed.*TIS

1895 Thomas Penyngton Kirkman FRS (31 March 1806 – 3 February 1895) was a British mathematician. Despite being primarily a churchman, he maintained an active interest in research-level mathematics, and was listed by Alexander Macfarlane as one of ten leading 19th-century British mathematicians. Kirkman's schoolgirl problem, an existence theorem for Steiner triple systems that founded the field of combinatorial design theory, is named after him.
Kirkman's first mathematical publication was in the Cambridge and Dublin Mathematical Journal in 1846, on a problem involving Steiner triple systems that had been published two years earlier in the Lady's and Gentleman's Diary by Wesley S. B. Woolhouse. Despite Kirkman's and Woolhouse's contributions to the problem, Steiner triple systems were named after Jakob Steiner who wrote a later paper in 1853. Kirkman's second research paper paper, in 1848, concerned hypercomplex numbers.
In 1850, Kirkman observed that his 1846 solution to Woolhouse's problem had an additional property, which he set out as a puzzle in the Lady's and Gentleman's Diary:
Fifteen young ladies in a school walk out three abreast for seven days in succession: it is required to arrange them daily, so that no two shall walk twice abreast.
This problem became known as Kirkman's schoolgirl problem, subsequently to become Kirkman's most famous result. He published several additional works on combinatorial design theory in later years. Kirkman also studied the Pascal lines determined by the intersection points of opposite sides of a hexagon inscribed within a conic section. Any six points on a conic may be joined into a hexagon in 60 different ways, forming 60 different Pascal lines. Extending previous work of Steiner, Kirkman showed that these lines intersect in triples to form 60 points (now known as the Kirkman points), so that each line contains three of the points and each point lies on three of the lines. *Wik

1928 Hendrik Antoon Lorentz (18 Jul 1853 - 4 Feb 1928) Dutch physicist who shared (with Pieter Zeeman) the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1902 for his theory of the influence of magnetism upon electromagnetic radiation phenomena. The theory was confirmed by findings of Zeeman and gave rise to Albert Einstein's special theory of relativity. From the start, Lorentz made it his task to extend James Clerk Maxwell's theory of electricity and of light. Already in his doctor's thesis, he treated the reflection and refraction phenomena of light from this new standpoint. His fundamental work in the fields of optics and electricity revolutionized conceptions of the nature of matter. In 1878, he published an essay relating the velocity of light in a medium, to its density and composition. *TIS

1974 Satyendra Nath Bose (1 Jan 1894; 4 Feb 1974) Indian physicist and mathematician who collaborated with Albert Einstein to develop a theory of statistical quantum mechanics, now called Bose-Einstein statistics. In his early work in quantum theory (1924), Bose wrote about the Planck black-body radiation law using a quantum statistics of photons, Plank's Law and the Light Quantum Hypothesis. Bose sent his ideas to Einstein, who extended this technique to integral spin particles. Dirac coined the name boson for particles obeying these statistics. Among other things, Bose-Einstein statistics explain how an electric current can flow in superconductors forever, with no loss. Bose also worked on X-ray diffraction, electrical properties of the ionosphere and thermoluminescence. *TIS

2003 Jean Brossel ( 15 August 1918 in Périgueux , France - 4 February 2003 in France)developed with Alfred Kastler the technique of optical pumping at origin of lasers. *Arjen Dijksman ‏@materion

2004 Valentina Mikhailovna Borok (9 July 1931, Kharkiv, Ukraine, USSR–4 February 2004, Haifa, Israel) was a Soviet Ukrainian mathematician. She is mainly known for her work on partial differential equations.*Wik

Credits :
*CHM=Computer History Museum
*FFF=Kane, Famous First Facts
*NSEC= NASA Solar Eclipse Calendar
*RMAT= The Renaissance Mathematicus, Thony Christie
*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