Friday, 29 March 2013

On This Day in Math - March 29

von Mädler Map of Moon, *

Natural selection is a mechanism for generating an exceedingly high degree of improbability.
~R. A. Fisher

The 88th day of the year; 882 = 7744, it is one of only 5 numbers known whose square has no isolated digits. (Can you find the others?) [Thanks to Danny Whittaker @nemoyatpeace for a correction on this.]
88 is also a chance to introduce a new word (new for me).  88 is strobogrammatic, a number that is the same when it is rotated 180o about its center... 69 is another example. If they make a different number when rotated, they are called invertible (109 becomes 601 for example). *Prime Curios

1796 Gauss achieved the construction of the 17-gon and a week later he would obtain his first proof of the quadratic reciprocity law. These two accomplishments mark the emergence from the ingenious manipulations of his youth, to the polished proofs of the mature mathematician. *Merzbach, An Early Version of Guass' Disquisitiones Arithmeticae, Mathematical Perspectives Academic Press 1981

first image obtained by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft .
In 1807, Vesta 4, the only asteroid visible to the naked eye, thus the brightest on record, was first observed by the amateur astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers from Bremen. Vesta is a main belt asteroid with a diameter of 525-km and a rotation period of 5.34 hours. Pictures taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995 show Vesta's complex surface, with a geology similar to that of terrestrial worlds - such as Earth or Mars - a surprisingly diverse world with an exposed mantle, ancient lava flows and impact basins. Though no bigger than the state of Arizona, it once had a molten interior. This contradicts conventional ideas that asteroids essentially are cold, rocky fragments left behind from the early days of planetary formation. *TIS Since the discovery of Ceres in 1801,  and the asteroid Pallas in 1802, he had corresponded and became close friends with Gauss.  For that reason he allowed Gauss to name the new "planet". 

1933 Italy issued the world’s first postage stamp portraying Galileo. [Scott #D16] *VFR
Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) made his first appearance on this stamp in 1933 for use in pneumatic postal systems (hence the wording “Posta Pneumatica” on the stamp). Pneumatic post involved placing letters in canisters which were then shot along pipes by compressed air from one Post Office to another. Pneumatic postal systems were set up in several European and American cities, including Rome, Naples, and Milan. Italy was the only country to issue stamps specifically for pneumatic postal use. Two of the designs showed Galileo – this one and a modified version with different face value and colour issued in 1945. The portrait is based on one by Justus Sustermans painted in 1636 when Galileo was aged 72. *Ian Ridpath, World's Oldest Astro Stamps page.

1989 Pixar Wins Academy Award for "Tin Toy":
Pixar wins an Academy Award for "Tin Toy," the first entirely computer-animated work to win in the best animated short film category. Pixar, now a division of Disney, continued its success with a string of shorts and the first entirely computer-animated feature-length film, the best-selling "Toy Story." *CHM

1794 Johann Heinrich von Mädler (29 May 1794, 14 Mar 1874 at age 79) German astronomer who (with Wilhelm Beer) published the most complete map of the Moon of the time, Mappa Selenographica, 4 vol. (1834-36). It was the first lunar map to be divided into quadrants, and it remained unsurpassed in its detail until J.F. Julius Schmidt's map of 1878. Mädler and Beer also published the first systematic chart of the surface features of the planet Mars (1830). *TIS

1807 Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers discovers the Minor Planet 4 Vesta, one of the largest asteroids in the Solar System, with a mean diameter of 525 kilometres (326 mi). It is named after Vesta, the virgin goddess of home and hearth from Roman mythology. *wik
1825 Francesco Faà di Bruno (29 March 1825–27 March 1888) was an Italian mathematician and priest, born at Alessandria. He was of noble birth, and held, at one time, the rank of captain-of-staff in the Sardinian Army. He is the eponym of Faà di Bruno's formula. In 1988 he was beatified by Pope John Paul II. Today, he is best known for Faà di Bruno's formula on derivatives of composite functions, although it is now certain that the priority in its discovery and use is of Louis François Antoine Arbogast: Faà di Bruno should be only credited for the determinant form of this formula. However, his work is mainly related to elimination theory and to the theory of elliptic functions.
He was the author of about forty original articles published in the "Journal de Mathématiques" (edited by Joseph Liouville), Crelle's Journal, "American Journal of Mathematics" (Johns Hopkins University), "Annali di Tortolini", "Les Mondes", "Comptes rendus de l'Académie des sciences", etc.*Wik

1830 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

1873 Tullio Levi-Civita (29 Mar 1873, 29 Dec 1941) Italian mathematician who was one of the founders of absolute differential calculus (tensor analysis) which had applications to the theory of relativity. In 1887, he published a famous paper in which he developed the calculus of tensors. In 1900 he published, jointly with Ricci, the theory of tensors Méthodes de calcul differential absolu et leures applications in a form which was used by Einstein 15 years later. Weyl also used Levi-Civita's ideas to produce a unified theory of gravitation and electromagnetism. In addition to the important contributions his work made in the theory of relativity, Levi-Civita produced a series of papers treating elegantly the problem of a static gravitational field. *TIS

1890 Sir Harold Spencer Jones (29 Mar 1890, 3 Nov 1960) English astronomer who was 10th astronomer royal of England (1933–55). His work was devoted to fundamental positional astronomy. While HM Astronomer at the Cape of Good Hope, he worked on poper motions and parallaxes. Later he showed that small residuals in the apparent motions of the planets are due to the irregular rotation of the earth. He led in the worldwide effort to determine the distance to the sun by triangulating the distance of the asteroid Eros when it passed near the earth in 1930-31. Spencer Jones also improved timekeeping and knowledge of the Earth’s rotation. After WW II he supervised the move of the Royal Observatory to Herstmonceux, where it was renamed the Royal Greenwich Observatory.*TIS

1893 Jason John Nassau (29 March 1893 in Smyrna, (now Izmir) Turkey - 11 May 1965 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA) was an American astronomer.
He performed his doctoral studies at Syracuse, and gained his Ph.D. mathematics in 1920. (His thesis was Some Theorems in Alternants.) He then became an assistant professor at the Case Institute of Technology in 1921, teaching astronomy. He continued to instruct at that institution, becoming the University's first chair of astronomy from 1924 until 1959 and chairman of the graduate division from 1936 until 1940. After 1959 he was professor emeritus.
From 1924 until 1959 he was also the director of the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) Warner and Swasey Observatory in Cleveland, Ohio. He was a pioneer in the study of galactic structure. He also discovered a new star cluster, co-discovered 2 novae in 1961, and developed a technique of studying the distribution of red (M-class or cooler) stars.*Wik

1896 Wilhelm Friedrich Ackermann (29 March 1896 – 24 December 1962) was a German mathematician best known for the Ackermann function, an important example in the theory of computation.*Wik

1912 Martin Eichler (29 March 1912 – 7 October 1992) was a German number theorist. He received his Ph.D. from the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in 1936.
Eichler once stated that there were five fundamental operations of mathematics: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and modular forms. He is linked with Goro Shimura in the development of a method to construct elliptic curves from certain modular forms. The converse notion that every elliptic curve has a corresponding modular form would later be the key to the proof of Fermat's last theorem.*Wik

1912 Caius Jacob (29 March 1912 , Arad - 6 February 1992 , Bucharest ) was a Romanian mathematician and member of the Romanian Academy. He made ​​contributions in the fields of fluid mechanics and mathematical analysis , in particular vigilance in plane movements of incompressible fluids, speeds of movement at subsonic and supersonic , approximate solutions in gas dynamics and the old problem of potential theory. His most important publishing was Mathematical introduction to the mechanics of fluids. *Wik

1941 Joseph Hooton Taylor, Jr. (March 29, 1941, ) is an American astrophysicist and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate for his discovery with Russell Alan Hulse of a "new type of pulsar, a discovery that has opened up new possibilities for the study of gravitation." *Wi

1772 Emanuel Swedenborg (29 Jan 1688; 29 Mar 1772) Swedish scientist, philosopher and theologian. While young, he studied mathematics and the natural sciences in England and Europe. From Swedenborg's inventive and mechanical genius came his method of finding terrestrial longitude by the Moon, new methods of constructing docks and even tentative suggestions for the submarine and the airplane. Back in Sweden, he started (1715) that country's first scientific journal, Daedalus Hyperboreus. His book on algebra was the first in the Swedish language, and in 1721 he published a work on chemistry and physics. Swedenborg devoted 30 years to improving Sweden's metal-mining industries, while still publishing on cosmology, corpuscular philosophy, mathematics, and human sensory perceptions. *TIS

1873 Francesco Zantedeschi (born 1797, 29 Mar 1873) Italian priest and physicist, who published papers (1829, 1830) on the production of electric currents in closed circuits by the approach and withdrawal of a magnet, preceding Faraday's classic experiment of 1831. Studying the solar spectrum, Zantedeschi was among the first to recognize the marked absorption by the atmosphere of the red, yellow, and green light. Though not confirmed, he also thought he detected a magnetic action on steel needles by ultra-violet light (1838), at least suspecting a connection between light and magnetism many years before Clerk-Maxwell's announcement (1867) of the electromagnetic theory of light. He experimented on the repulsion of flames by a strong magnetic field.*TIS

1912  Robert Falcon Scott, CVO (6 June 1868 – c. 29 March 1912) was a Royal Navy officer and explorer who led two expeditions to the Antarctic regions: the Discovery Expedition, 1901–04, and the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition, 1910–13. During this second venture, Scott led a party of five which reached the South Pole on 17 January 1912, only to find that they had been preceded by Roald Amundsen's Norwegian expedition. On their return journey, Scott and his four comrades all died from a combination of exhaustion, starvation and extreme cold.  *Wik
Such events lead to interesting exchanges, such as this reply to a British VAT (Value added tax, sort of like sales tax in US) inquiry.  The response below includes a certain dry charm common to the English. 

1944 Grace Chisholm Young (née Chisholm; 15 March 1868 – 29 March 1944) was an English mathematician. She was educated at Girton College, Cambridge, England and continued her studies at Göttingen University in Germany. Her early writings were published under the name of her husband, William Henry Young, and they collaborated on mathematical work throughout their lives. For her work on calculus (1914–16), she was awarded the Gamble Prize.
Her son, Laurence Chisholm Young, was also a prominent mathematician. One of her living granddaughters, Sylvia Wiegand (daughter of Laurence), is also a mathematician (and a past president of the Association for Women in Mathematics.)*Wik

1980 William Gemmell Cochran (15 July 1909, Rutherglen – 29 March 1980, Orleans, Massachusetts)In 1934 R A Fisher left Rothamsted Experimental Station to accept the Galton chair at University College, London and Frank Yates became head at Rothamsted. Cochran was offered the vacant post but he had not finished his doctoral course at Cambridge. Yates later wrote:-
... it was a measure of good sense that he accepted my argument that a PhD, even from Cambridge, was little evidence of research ability, and that Cambridge had at that time little to teach him in statistics that could not be much better learnt from practical work in a research institute.
Cochran accepted the post at Rothamsted where he worked for 5 years on experimental designs and sample survey techniques. During this time he worked closely with Yates. At this time he also had the chance to work with Fisher who was a frequent visitor at Rothamsted.
Cochran visited Iowa Statistical Laboratory in 1938, then he accepted a statistics post there in 1939. His task was to develop the graduate programe in statistics within the Mathematics Department. In 1943 he joined Wilks research team at Princeton.
At Princeton he was involved in war work examining probabilities of hits in naval warfare. By 1945 he was working on bombing raid strategies.
He joined the newly created North Carolina Institute of Statistics in 1946, again to develop the graduate programe in statistics. From 1949 until 1957 he was at Johns Hopkins University in the chair of biostatistics. Here he was more involved in medical applications of statistics rather than the agricultural application he had studied earlier.
From 1957 until he retired in 1976 Cochran was at Harvard. His initial task was to help set up a statistics department, something which he had a great deal of experience with by this time. He had almost become a professional at starting statistics within universities in the USA. *SAU

1983 Sir Maurice George Kendall, FBA (6 September 1907 – 29 March 1983) was a British statistician, widely known for his contribution to statistics. The Kendall tau rank correlation is named after him.*Wik He was involved in developing one of the first mechanical devices to produce (pseudo-) random digits, eventually leading to a 100,000-random-digit set commonly used until RAND's (once well-known) "A Million Random Digits With 100,000 Normal Deviates" in 1955.
Kendall was Professor of Statistics at the London School of Economics from 1949 to 1961. His main work in statistics involved k-statistics, time series, and rank-correlation methods, including developing the Kendall's tau stat, which eventually led to a monograph on Rank Correlation in 1948. He was also involved in several large sample-survey projects. For many, what Kendall is best known for is his set of books titled The Advanced Theory of Statistics (ATS), with Volume I first appearing in 1943 and Volume II in 1946. Kendall later completed a
rewriting of ATS, which appeared in three volumes in 1966, which were updated by collaborator Alan Stuart and Keith Ord after Kendall's death, appearing now as "Kendall's Advanced Theory of Statistics". *David Bee

1999 Boris A. Kordemsky ( 23 May 1907 – 29 March, 1999) was a Russian mathematician and educator. He is best known for his popular science books and mathematical puzzles. He is the author of over 70 books and popular mathematics articles.
Kordemsky received Ph.D. in education in 1956 and taught mathematics at several Moscow colleges.
He is probably the best-selling author of math puzzle books in the history of the world. Just one of his books, Matematicheskaya Smekalka (or, Mathematical Quick-Wits), sold more than a million copies in the Soviet Union/Russia alone, and it has been translated into many languages. By exciting millions of people in mathematical problems over five decades, he influenced generations of solvers both at home and abroad. *Age of Puzzles, by Will Shortz and Serhiy Grabarchuk (mostly)

1908 John Bardeen (23 May 1908; 30 Jan 1991 at age 82) American physicist who was cowinner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in both 1956 and 1972. He shared the 1956 prize with William B. Shockley and Walter H. Brattain for their joint invention of the transistor. With Leon N. Cooper and John R. Schrieffer he was awarded the 1972 prize for development of the theory of superconductors, usually called the BCS-theory (after the initials of their names). *TIS

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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