Saturday, 2 March 2013

On This Day in Math - March 2

Conway gate at CMS, Cambridge UK

Mathematics education is much more complicated than you expected, even though you expected it to be more complicated than you expected.
~Edward Griffith Begle

The 61st day of the year; The 61st Fibonacci number (2,504,730,781,961) is the smallest Fibonacci number which contains all the digits from 0 to 9 *Tanya Khovanova, Number Gossip (are there others that contain only the first 2, 3 .. 9 digits? ie 21 has 1,2 but 121393 has 1,2,3 but also a 9. Is there any that contain ONLY 1,2,3 or 1,2,3,4 etc)

In 1896, Henri Becquerel reported his discovery of the penetrating rays of a uranium compound to the French Academy of Sciences. The photographic plate, fogged by these rays, showing the outline of a metal cross lying between the compound and the plate, is the first recognition of the effects later known as radioactivity. *TIS

In 1972, U.S. spacecraft Pioneer 10 was launched. It passed close by Jupiter and Neptune before leaving the solar system. It is now more than six billion miles from Earth. *TIS

1836 Julius Weingarten (2 March 1836 in Berlin – 16 June 1910 in Freiburg im Breisgau) was a German mathematician. He made some important contributions to the differential geometry of surfaces, such as the Weingarten equations.*Wik

1862 Robert Alladice studied at Edinburgh University and was then appointed assistant to Professor Chrystal there. He was a founder member of the EMS and became President in 1890. He left Edinburgh to become Professor at Stanford University in California. He worked in Geometry. *SAU

1862 Boris Borisovich Golitsyn (2 Mar 1862; 17 May 1916 at age 54) (Prince) Russian physicist known for his work on methods of earthquake observations and on the construction of seismographs. He invented the first effective electromagnetic seismograph in 1906. A seismometer of this type picks up earthquake waves with a pendulum that supports a coil of insulated wire between the poles of a magnet rigidly linked to the earth. The relative motion between the magnet and the coil caused by tremors in the earth generates corresponding electric currents in the coil. The currents can be amplified to operate a pen recorder. *TIS

1912 Clifford Hugh Dowker (2 March 1912 in Parkhill, Western Ontario, Canada- 14 Oct 1982 in London, England) was a topologist known for his work in point-set topology and also for his contributions in category theory, sheaf theory and knot theory. *SAU

1840 (Heinrich) Wilhelm (Matthäus) Olbers(11 Oct 1758; 2 Mar 1840) was a German astronomer and physician, born in Arbergen, Germany. While practising medicine at Bremen, he calculated the orbit of the comet of 1779, discovered the minor planets (asteroids) Pallas (1802) and Vesta (1807), and discovered five comets (all but one already observed at Paris). He also invented a method for calculating the velocity of falling stars. He is also known for Olber's paradox which asks "why is the night sky dark if there are so many bright stars all around to light it?" *TIS

1885 Joseph Alfred Serret (30 Aug 1819 in Paris, France - 2 March 1885 in Versailles, France) He was a French mathematician best remembered for the Serret-Frenet formulas for a space-curve. In 1860 Serret succeeded Poinsot in the Académie des Sciences. In 1871 he retired to Versailles as his health began to deteriorate.
Serret also worked in number theory, calculus and mechanics. He edited the works of Lagrange which were published in 14 volumes between 1867 and 1892. He also edited the 5th edition of Monge in 1850.*SAU

1962 Charles-Jean Étienne Gustave Nicolas de la Vallée Poussin (14 August 1866 - 2 March 1962) was a Belgian mathematician. He is most well known for proving the Prime number theorem. This states that π(x), the number of primes ≤ x, tends to x/Lnx as x tends to infinity. (actually by this time the method of attack involved the use of Li(n), the logarithmic integral as described by Gauss).
The prime number theorem had been conjectured in the 18th century, but in 1896 two mathematicians independently proved the result, namely Hadamard (whose proof was much simpler) and Vallée Poussin. The first major contribution to proving the result was made by Chebyshev in 1848, then the proof was outlined by Riemann in 1851. The clue to two independent proofs being produced at the same time is that the necessary tools in complex analysis had not been developed until that time. In fact the solution of this major open problem was one of the major motivations for the development of complex analysis during the period from 1851 to 1896.
The king of Belgium ennobled him with the title of baron. *SAU

1978 Edward Griffith Begle (27 Nov 1914, 2 Mar 1978 at age 63) American mathematician, a topologist, who led development of "new math." When the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite (1957), beating the U.S. into space, the effectiveness of science and mathematics education in American schools came under scrutiny. Begle's idea was to replace the traditional focus on mathematics as memorization and algorithmic computation. Instead, he designed a program to emphasise the fundamental importance of understanding the principles of mathematics. He directed (1958-72) the School Mathematics Study Group, funded by the National Science Foundation. SMSG produced teaching materials for all grade levels with this approach. Ultimately, initiating lasting reform through teachers was unsuccessful. *TIS

2008 Frederick Seitz (4 Jul 1911, 2 Mar 2008 at age 96) American physicist who made fundamental contributions to the theory of solids, nuclear physics, fluorescence, and crystals. As Eugene Wigner's first doctoral student, late in 1932, Seitz developed the cellular method of deriving solid-state wave functions. The widespread application of this Wigner-Seitz method to the understanding of metals is regarded as the catalyst for the formation of the field of solid-state physics in the U.S. His subsequent research focused on the theory and properties of crystals. He studied dislocations and imperfections in crystal structures, the effect of irradiation on crystals, and the process of diffusion (the movement of atoms or particles caused by random collision) in crystalline materials. *TIS

2009 Jacob Theodore "Jack" Schwartz (January 9, 1930 – March 2, 2009) was an American mathematician, computer scientist, and professor of computer science at the New York University Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. He was the designer of the SETL programming language and the NYU Ultracomputer. He founded the New York University Department of Computer Science, chairing it from 1964 to 1980.
His research interests included: the theory of linear operators, von Neumann algebras, quantum field theory, time-sharing, parallel computing, programming language design and implementation, robotics, set-theoretic approaches in computational logic, proof and program verification systems; multimedia authoring tools; experimental studies of visual perception; multimedia and other high-level software techniques for analysis and visualization of bioinformatic data.
He authored 18 books and more than 100 papers and technical reports.*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
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