Wednesday, 24 July 2013

On This Day in Math - July 24




In mathematics the art of proposing a question 
must be held of higher value than solving it.
~Goerg Cantor

Today is the 205th day of the year; there are 205 pairs of twin primes less than ten thousand. *Number Gossip


EVENTS
In 1673, Edmund Halley entered Queen's College, Oxford, as an undergraduate. Halley had attended the prestigious St. Paul's school, where in 1671, he was appointed captain, a position resembling today's student body president. He was an excellent student, and by the time he entered Queen's College, Oxford. At this young age, Halley already possessed, "... the basic facts and computations not only of navigation but also those which the practical astronomer is concerned when he sets about the delicate task of measuring the positions of celestial bodies in the sky," according to Colin Ronan in his book Edmond Halley: genius in eclipse *TIS

1860 Yale University authorized the granting of Doctor of Philosophy degrees. The first such degrees in the U.S. were awarded in 1861 by Yale to Eugene Schuyler, James Morris Whiton, and Arthur Williams Wright. [Kane, p. 215] *VFR

In 1911, American Hiram Bingham discovered the Lost City of the Incas, Vilcapampa (now called Machu Picchu), where the last Incan Emperors found refuge from the conquistadors.*TIS

In 1950, the first successful rocket launch from Cape Canaveral took place. "Bumper" No. 8 was a captured German V-2 rocket with the payload replaced by another rocket 700-pound Army-JPL Wac Corporal rocket on top. It was fired from Long-Range Proving Ground at Cape Canaveral. The first-stage V-2 climbed 10 miles, separated from the second-stage Corporal which traveled 15 more miles. (V-2 exploded). A previous attempt on 19 July 1950 of a similar launch was aborted on the pad. Image: A V2 just after launch (White Sands Missle Range, NM)*TIS

In 1991, a University of Manchester scientist announced the finding a planet outside of solar system. Andrew G. Lyne of the University of Manchester subsequently retracted his claim for a planet around pulsar PSR 1829-10 at the Jan 1992 meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Atlanta. He said that the modulation of radio waves coming from the pulsar was caused not by the presence of a planet but was in fact an artifact of the Earth's motion around the Sun. That possibility that had been considered but then discounted in earlier studies of the data.*TIS



BIRTHS

1827 Edward Olney (ALL-nee*) (July 24, 1827 - January 16, 1887) was born in Moreau, Saratoga County, New York. His ancestry can be traced back to Thomas Olney who accompanied Roger Williams in founding the city of Providence and colony of Rhode Island. Benjamin Olney's family moved to Oakland County, Michigan, in 1833 and, a few months later, settled on a farm in Weston, Wood County, Ohio.
Opportunities for formal education on the frontier were sparse, and Olney was largely self-taught. Calloway tells about Edward hiring a neighbor boy to drive the team of oxen on the Olney farm so that he could attend school for six weeks in order to master Day's Algebra. During this time he also ran an arithmetic school at home in the evenings in order to earn the money to pay for his substitute driver.
At age 19, Olney began his career as a teacher in the local elementary schools, while studying mathematics, natural science, and languages on his own. Cajori reports that "though he had never studied Latin, he began teaching it and kept ahead of the class because he 'had more application'." In 1848 Olney was hired as a teacher in the district school at Perrysburg, Ohio. The following year he was named principal of the grammar department in the new Union School. Over the next five years he would become the school's superintendent, marry Miss Sarah Huntington (a teacher at the school), and receive an honorary A. M. degree from Madison University (now Colgate University) in Hamilton, New York. Today there is an Olney School in Lake Township, Wood County, named after him.
In 1853 Olney was appointed Professor of Mathematics at Kalamazoo College, Michigan, where he remained for ten years and established the first mathematics curriculum at that institution. He inspired his colleagues and students alike with "his high Christian aims; his generous, self-sacrificing spirit; his thoroughness in government and discipline; and the inspiration which attended him." Although he insisted that his students recite using exact and correct language, he always tried to simplify the explanations of concepts and processes and make them more understandable. Kalamazoo college later conferred the honorary degree, LL. D. upon him.
In 1863 Olney was named Professor of Mathematics at the University of Michigan, succeeding George P. Williams, whose title was then changed to Professor of Physics. In those days the freshmen at Michigan were taught by inexperienced instructors, but once a week they had to recite for Professor Olney. His reputation for being a stern disciplinarian and a stickler for correct details earned him the nickname "Old Toughy." Nevertheless, he took great pains to see that the poorer students obtained help in making up their deficiencies. According to a former student, G. C. Comstock, "He was not a harsh man, and although the students stood in awe of him, I think that he was generally liked by them."
While he was at Michigan, Professor Olney began writing a series of successful mathematics textbooks for use in both grammar schools and colleges. In many places these displaced the works of such highly regarded authors as Charles Davies and Elias Loomis. Among the titles are: Elements of Arithmetic for Intermediate, Grammar, and Common Schools (1877), A University Algebra (1873), Elementary Geometry (1883), Elements of Trigonometry (1870), and A General Geometry and Calculus (1871) (online). Olney's treatment of calculus was criticized for using infinitesimal methods, but praised for giving "the elegant method, discovered by Prof. James C. Watson [Professor of Astronomy at Michigan], of demonstrating the rule for differentiating a logarithm without the use of series." It is said that Olney preferred geometry to analysis, and when teaching calculus, he would attempt to translate analytical expressions into their geometrical equivalents. This, along with his own struggles in self-education, contributed to his great success as a teacher and textbook author. Edward Olney died on January 16, 1887, after suffering for three years from the effects of a stroke. *David E. Kullman

1851 Friedrich Hermann Schottky. (24 July 1851 – 12 August 1935) was a German mathematician who worked on elliptic, abelian, and theta functions and invented Schottky groups. He was born in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland) and died in Berlin.
He is also the father of Walter H. Schottky, the German physicist and inventor of a variety of semiconductor concepts.*Wik

1853 Henri-Alexandre Deslandres (July 24, 1853 – January 15, 1948) French astrophysicist who invented a spectroheliograph (1894) to photograph the Sun in monochromatic light (about a year after George E. Hale in the U.S.) and made extensive studies of the solar chromosphere and solar activity. He worked at the Paris and Meudon Observatories. His investigation of molecular spectra produced empirical laws presaging those of quantum mechanics. He observed spectra of planets and stars and measured their radial velocities of, and he determined the rotation rates of Uranus, Jupiter and Saturn (shortly after James E. Keeler).*TIS

1856 Emile Picard (24 July 1856 – 11 December 1941) born. Picard's mathematical papers, textbooks, and many popular writings exhibit an extraordinary range of interests, as well as an impressive mastery of the mathematics of his time. Modern students of complex variables are probably familiar with two of his named theorems. His lesser theorem states that every nonconstant entire function takes every value in the complex plane, with perhaps one exception. His greater theorem states that an analytic function with an essential singularity takes every value infinitely often, with perhaps one exception, in any neighborhood of the singularity. He also made important contributions in the theory of differential equations, including work on Picard–Vessiot theory, Painlevé transcendents and his introduction of a kind of symmetry group for a linear differential equation, the Picard group. In connection with his work on function theory, he was one of the first mathematicians to use the emerging ideas of algebraic topology. In addition to his path-breaking theoretical work, Picard also made important contributions to applied mathematics, including the theories of telegraphy and elasticity. His collected papers run to four volumes.
Like his contemporary, Henri Poincaré, Picard was much concerned with the training of mathematics, physics, and engineering students. He wrote a classic textbook on analysis and one of the first textbooks on the theory of relativity. Picard's popular writings include biographies of many leading French mathematicians, including his father in law, Charles Hermite.*Wik

1871 Paul Epstein (July 24, 1871 – August 11, 1939) was a German mathematician. He is known for his contributions to number theory, in particular the Epstein zeta function.
Epstein was raised in Frankfurt where his father was a professor. He received his PhD in 1895 from the University of Strasbourg. From 1895 to 1918 he was a Privatdozent at the University in Strasbourg, which at that time was part of the German Empire. At the end of World War I the city of Strasbourg reverted to France, and Epstein, being German, had to return to Frankfurt.
Epstein was appointed to a non-tenured post at the university and he lectured in Frankfurt from 1919. Later he was appointed professor at Frankfurt. However, after the Nazis came to power in Germany he lost his university position. Because of his age he was unable to find a new position abroad, and finally committed suicide by abusing barbital, fearing Gestapo torture. *Wik

1888 Dunham Jackson (July 24, 1888, Bridgewater, Massachusetts – November 6, 1946) was a mathematician who worked within approximation theory, notably with trigonometrical and orthogonal polynomials. He is known for Jackson's inequality. He was awarded the Chauvenet Prize in 1935. His book Fourier Series and Orthogonal Polynomials (dated 1941) was reprinted in 2004.
Harold Bacon recalls that Jackson was an inspired writer of limericks. When Bacon purchased Jackson's "The Theory of Approximations" he took it to Jackson's office and requested he sign it, suggesting a limerick. Without any visible prethought Jackson wrote on the flyleaf:
There was a young fellow named Bacon
Whose judgement of books was mistaken
In a moment too rash
He relinquished some cash
And his faith in the Author was shaken
*Steven Krantz, Mathematical Apocrypha Redux

1923 Christine Mary Hamill (July 24, 1923 – March 24, 1956) was an English mathematician who specialized in group theory and finite geometry. After receiving her Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in 1951, she was appointed to a lectureship in the University of Sheffield and later was appointed lecturer in the University College, Ibadan, Nigeria.*Wik




DEATHS

1934 Hans Hahn (September 27, 1879 – July 24, 1934) was an Austrian mathematician who is best remembered for the Hahn-Banach theorem. He also made important contributions to the calculus of variations, developing ideas of Weierstrass. *SAU

1964 Finlay Freundlich (May 29, 1885 – July 24, 1964) was a distinguished German astronomer who worked with Einstein on measurements of the orbit of Mercury to confirm the general theory of relativity. He left Germany to avoid Nazi rule and became the Napier Professor of Astronomy at St Andrews. *SAU

1974 Sir James Chadwick (20 October 1891 – 24 July 1974) English physicist who received the Nobel Prize for Physics (1935) for his discovery of the neutron. He studied at Cambridge, and in Berlin under Geiger, then worked at the Cavendish Laboratory with Rutherford, where he investigated the structure of the atom. He worked on the scattering of alpha particles and on nuclear disintegration. By bombarding beryllium with alpha particles, Chadwick discovered the neutron - a neutral particle in the atom's nucleus - for which he received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1935. In 1932, Chadwick coined the name "neutron," which he described in an article in the journal Nature. He led the UK's work on the atomic bomb in WW II, and was knighted in 1945*TIS

1983 Eberhard Frederich Ferdinand Hopf (April 4, 1902, Salzburg, Austria-Hungary – July 24, 1983, Bloomington, Indiana) was a mathematician and astronomer, one of the founding fathers of ergodic theory and a pioneer of bifurcation theory who also made significant contributions to the subjects of partial differential equations and integral equations, fluid dynamics, and differential geometry. The Hopf maximum principle is an early result of his (1927) which is one of the most important techniques in the theory of elliptic partial differential equations.*Wik

1992 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
2005 Sir Richard Doll (28 October 1912 – 24 July 2005) British epidemiologist who was one of the first two researchers to link cigarette smoking to lung cancer, as published in the British Medical Journal in 1950. In the same journal, fifty years later, Doll published (22 Jun 2004) the first research that quantified the damage over the lifetime of a generation, based on a 50-year study of a group of almost 35,000 British doctors who smoked. The study found that almost half of persistent cigarette smokers were killed by their habit, and a quarter died before age 70. Persons who quit by age 30 had normal life expectancy. Even quitting at age 50 saved six more years of life over those who continued smoking. He studied other health effects, such as those caused by asbestos and electricmagnetic fields.*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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