I tend rather to be critical of precise statements;
they are the only ones which can correctly be labeled wrong.
~ Raymond Smullyan on criticism
The 145th day of the year; 145= 1! + 4! + 5!. There are only four such numbers in base ten. 1, 2 and 145 are three of them, what's the fourth? Such numbers are called factorions, a term created by Cliff Pickover in 1995
EVENTS1581 John Dee, mathematician and mystic, ﬁrst saw spirits in his crystal globe. [Daniel Cohen, Masters of the Occult , Dodd and Mead, 1971, p. 28] *VFR
1694 Isaac Newton to Nathaniel Hawes: “A Vulgar Mechanick can practice what he has been taught or seen done, but if he is in an error he knows not how to ﬁnd it out and correct it, and if you put him out of his road, he is at a stand; Whereas he that is able to reason nimbly and judiciously about ﬁgure, force and motion, is never at rest till he gets over every rub.” Westfall takes this as the title of his fabulous biography of Newton, Never at Rest. Reportedly he received one of the early Golden Fleece Awards of Senator Proxmire for a grant to write this book. [But we have been unable to ﬁnd a reference for this last statement.] *VFR
1721 John Copson of High Street in Philidelphia posted an offering in the American Weekly Mercury on this date announcing that he would open an office to provide fire insurance for "vessels, goods, and merchandise." With that, he became the first Insurance agent in continental America. *Kane, First Famous Facts
1747 Benjamin Franklin describes his electrical experiments in a letter to Peter Collinson. " Hence have arisen some new Terms among us. .... Or rather B is electrised plus and A minus. And we daily in our Experiments electrise Bodies plus or minus as we think proper. These Terms we may use till your Philosophers give us better. To electrise plus or minus, no more needs to be known than this; that the Parts of the Tube or Sphere, that are rub'd, do, in the Instant of the Friction, attract the Electrical Fire, and therefore take it from the Thing rubbing: the same Parts immediately, as the Friction upon them ceases, are disposed to give the Fire they have received, to any Body that has less." *Collinson, "Experiments and Observations on Electricity Made at Philadelphia in America."
1832 Galois writes to his friend, Auguste Chevalier, about his broken romance for Stephanie. The fatal duel looms only five days away. Mario Livio tells the story wonderfully in "The Equation That Couldn't be Solved".
1842 Johann Christian Doppler (1803–1853) presented a lecture on
1844 the first news communicated by telegraph in the U.S. was sent 80 miles to the Baltimore Patriot, Maryland, from Washington, D.C. giving the information that "One o'clock. There has just been made a motion in the House to go into committee of the whole on the Oregon question. Rejected. Ayes 79 - Nays 86." This was just one day after Samuel Morse transmitted his famous "What hath God wrought!" message from the U.S. Supreme Court room and opened America's first telegraph line linking Washington and Baltimore.*TIS
1946 The Soviet Union issued two stamps to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Pafnuti Lvovich Chebyshev (1821–1894). [Scott #1050-1].*VFR (see May 16th Births)
1961 the formal announcement of an American lunar landing was made by President John F. Kennedy speaking to the Congress: "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space program in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important in the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish." *TIS
2142 The next total solar eclipse in Ostend, Belgium. The last total solar eclipse took place more than 11 centuries ago, 29 September 878. But only 9 years later, on 14 June 2151, there will be another one. *NASA Solar Eclipse Catalog (I know I can hardly wait!)
BIRTHS1828 Karl Peterson (25 May 1828 in Riga, Russia (now Latvia) - 19 April 1881 in Moscow, Russia)
was a Latvian mathematician worked in differential geometry and partial differential equations. .. by means of a uniform general method, he deduced nearly all the devices known at that time for finding general solutions of different classes of equations.
Largely because he was not at a university his results were not well known but they did influence Egorov in Moscow, but Peterson gained an international reputation only when Darboux and Bianchi used his results.*SAU
1873 Michele Angelo Besso (25 May 1873 Riesbach – 15 March 1955 Genoa) was a Swiss/Italian engineer of Jewish Italian (Sephardi) descent. He was a close friend of Albert Einstein during his years at the Federal Polytechnic Institute in Zurich, today the ETH Zurich, and then at the patent office in Bern. Besso is credited with introducing Einstein to the works of Ernst Mach, the sceptical critic of physics who influenced Einstein's approach to the discipline. Einstein called Besso "the best sounding board in Europe" for scientific ideas.
In a letter of condolence to the Besso family Albert Einstein wrote his now famous quote "Now Besso has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion" *Wik
1919 Raymond Merrill Smullyan ( May 25, 1919 - ) is an American mathematician, concert pianist, logician, Taoist philosopher, and magician. His first career (like Persi Diaconis a generation later) was stage magic. He then earned a BSc from the University of Chicago in 1955 and his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1959. He is one of many logicians to have studied under Alonzo Church. Smullyan is the author of many books on recreational mathematics, recreational logic, etc. Most notably, one is titled "What Is the Name of This Book?". *Wik For example the book is described on the cover as follows:"Beginning with fun-filled monkey tricks and classic brain-teasers with devilish new twists, Professor Smullyan spins a logical labyrinth of even more complex and challenging problems as he delves into some of the deepest paradoxes of logic and set theory, including Gödel's revolutionary theorem of undecidability."
Martin Gardner described this book in Scientific American as:"The most original, most profound and most humorous collection of recreational logic and mathematics problems ever written."
1954 Clyde P. Kruskal (born May 25, 1954) is an American computer scientist, working on parallel computing architectures, models, and algorithms. He got his A.B. degree in mathematics and computer science from Brandeis University, M.Sc. (1978) and Ph.D. (1981) from New York University under Jack Schwartz. Since then he has worked as assistant professor at University of Illinois (1981–85) and University of Maryland, College Park (1985–88), as associate professor (1988–). He has published extensively, becoming an ISI highly cited researcher. His father was the world-renowned mathematician Martin Kruskal. *Wik
1555 Regnier Gemma Frisius (December 9, 1508–May 25, 1555) was a Dutch mathematician who applied his mathematical expertise to geography, astronomy and map making. He became the leading theoretical mathematician in the Low Countries.*SAU Frisius created or improved many instruments, including the cross-staff, the astrolabe and the astronomical rings. His students included Gerardus Mercator (who became his collaborator), Johannes Stadius, John Dee, Andreas Vesalius and Rembert Dodoens.*Wik It was Frisius who created the modern symbol for degrees, o , in the 1569 edition of Arithmeticae practicae moethodus facilis. *Cajori
1676 Johann Rahn (10 March 1622 in Zürich, Switzerland - 25 May 1676 in Zürich, Switzerland)
was a Swiss mathematician who was the first to use the symbol "÷",called an obelus, for a division symbol in Teutsche Algebra (1659). The invention is also sometimes credited to British Mathematician John Pell who was Rahn's tutor for a while. The book, written in German, contains an example of Pell's equation also. Here is more on the various symbols used for division
1956 Johann Radon (16 December 1887 – 25 May 1956) worked on the calculus of variations, differential geometry and measure theory.
Radon is known for a number of lasting contributions, including:
- his part in the Radon–Nikodym theorem;
- the Radon measure concept of measure as linear functional;
- the Radon transform, in integral geometry, based on integration over hyperplanes — with application to tomography for scanners (see tomographic reconstruction);
- Radon's theorem, that d + 2 points in d dimensions may always be partitioned into two subsets with intersecting convex hulls
- the Radon-Hurwitz numbers.
- He is possibly the first to make use of the so called Radon-Riesz property. *Wik
1989 Ruby Violet Payne-Scott, (28 May 1912 – 25 May 1981) was an Australian pioneer in radiophysics and radio astronomy, and was the first female radio astronomer.
One of the more outstanding physicists that Australia has ever produced and one of the first people in the world to consider the possibility of radio astronomy, and thereby responsible for what is now a fundamental part of the modern lexicon of science, she was often the only woman in her classes at the University of Sydney.
Her career arguably reached its zenith while working for the Australian government's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (then called CSIR, now known as CSIRO) at Dover Heights, Hornsby and especially Potts Hill in Sydney. Some of her fundamental contributions to solar radio astronomy came at the end of this period. She is the discoverer of Type I and Type III bursts and participated in the recognition of Type II and IV bursts.
She played a major role in the first-ever radio astronomical interferometer observation from 26 January 1946, when the sea-cliff interferometer was used to determine the position and angular size of a solar burst. This observation occurred at either Dover Heights (ex Army shore defence radar) or at Beacon Hill, near Collaroy on Sydney's north shore (ex Royal Australian Air Force surveillance radar establishment - however this radar did not become active until early 1950).
During World War II, she was engaged in top secret work investigating radar. She was the expert on the detection of aircraft using PPI (Plan Position Indicator) displays. She was also at the time a member of the Communist Party and an early advocate for women's rights. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) was interested in Payne-Scott and had a substantial file on her activities, with some distortions.
*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