Monday, 9 June 2014

On This Day in Math - June 9

I've been giving this lecture to first-year classes
for over twenty-five years. 
You'd think they would begin to understand it by now.
~ J E Littlewood

The 160th day of the year; 160 is the smallest number which is sum of cubes of 3 distinct primes (23+33+53) *Prime Curios

1795 a provisional metre bar was constructed in brass by Lenoir. On 1 Aug 1793, the metre had been defined to be 1/10 000 000 of the northern quadrant of the Paris meridian (5 132 430 toises of Paris, from the north pole to the equator). On 7 Apr 1795, the first legal definition of the metre was made by the French National Assembly. A second measure was made along the Dunkirk-Barcelona axis (5 130 740 toises of Paris).

1798 Napoleon’s fleet of 500 ships arrived in Malta, and three days later they captured the place. Monge started fifteen elementary schools and one high school there.*VFR

1905  Albert Einstein published his analysis of Planck's quantum theory and its application to light. His article appeared in Annalen der Physik. Though no experimental work was involved, it was for these insights that Einstein earned his Nobel Prize. *TIS

1934 First Donald Duck Cartoon. Amazingly, the "Donal in Mathland" videos that were popular in the eighties in middle schools are still for sell.


1812 Johann Gottfried Galle (9 June 1812 – 10 July 1910)  German astronomer who on 23 Sep 1846, was the first to observe the planet Neptune, whose existence had been predicted in the calculations of Leverrier. Leverrier had written to Galle asking him to search for the 'new planet' at a predicted location. Galle was then a member of the staff of the Berlin Observatory and had discovered three comets. In 1838, while assistant to Johann Franz Encke, Galle discovered the dark, inner C ring of Saturn at the time of the maxium ring opening. In 1851, he became professor of astronomy at Breslau and director of the observatory there. In 1872, he proposed the use of asteroids rather than regular planets for determinations of the solar parallax, a suggestion which was successful in an international campaign (1888-89).

1885 John Edensor Littlewood born. (9 June 1885 – 6 September 1977) Littlewood’s Miscellany (1986) is a delightful little book, for it shows a mathematician having fun.*VFR
He collaborated for many years with G. H. Hardy. Together they devised the first Hardy–Littlewood conjecture, a strong form of the twin prime conjecture, and the second Hardy–Littlewood conjecture.
In a 1947 lecture, the Danish mathematician Harald Bohr said, "To illustrate to what extent Hardy and Littlewood in the course of the years came to be considered as the leaders of recent English mathematical research, I may report what an excellent colleague once jokingly said: 'Nowadays, there are only three really great English mathematicians: Hardy, Littlewood, and Hardy–Littlewood.'"
There is a story (related in the Miscellany) that at a conference Littlewood met a German mathematician who said he was most interested to discover that Littlewood really existed, as he had always assumed that Littlewood was a name used by Hardy for lesser work which he did not want to put out under his own name; Littlewood apparently roared with laughter. There are versions of this story involving both Norbert Wiener and Edmund Landau, who, it is claimed, "so doubted the existence of Littlewood that he made a special trip to Great Britain to see the man with his own eyes"*Wik

1960  Carlo W. J. Beenakker (born June 9, 1960) is a professor at Leiden University and leader of the university's mesoscopic physics group, established in 1992. In 1997, he was awarded the Spinoza Prize, the "Dutch Nobel prize". *Wik

1751 John Machin (bapt. 1686?—June 9, 1751) was an English mathematician and astronomer best known for the formulas he invented for calculating π.*VFR
He was a professor of astronomy at Gresham College, London, and is best known for developing a quickly converging series for Pi in 1706 and using it to compute Pi to 100 decimal places.
Machin's formula is:
\frac{\pi}{4} = 4 \cot^{-1}5 - \cot^{-1}239
The benefit of the new formula, a variation on the Gregory/Leibniz series (Pi/4 = arctan 1), was that it had a significantly increased rate of convergence, which made it a much more practical method of calculation.
To compute Pi to 100 decimal places, he combined his formula with the Taylor series expansion for the inverse tangent. (Brook Taylor was Machin's contemporary in Cambridge University.) Machin's formula remained the primary tool of Pi-hunters for centuries (well into the computer era).*Wik "This formula of John Machin (1680–1751) was publicised by William Jones in his 1706 Synopsis palmariorum matheseos. Variations of it remained the standard method for calculating τ/2 (pi) until the 1970s, when better methods due to Ramanujan came to light." *Theorem of the Day

1818 Joel E. Hendricks, (March 10, 1818 - June 9, 1893) a noted mathematician, was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, March 10, 1818. He early developed a love of mathematics and began to teach school at nineteen years of age. He chanced to procure Moore's Navigation and Ostrander's Astronomy and, without instruction, soon became able to work in trigonometry and calculate solar and lunar eclipses. He took up algebra while teaching and soon became master of that science without instruction. He taught mathematics two years in Neville Academy, Ohio, and then occupied a position on a Government survey in Colorado in 1861. In 1864 he located in Des Moines, Iowa and pursued his mathematical studies. In 1874 he began the publication of the Analyst, a journal of pure and applied mathematics and soon won a reputation in Europe among eminent scholars as one of the most advanced mathematicians of the day. His Analyst was taken by the colleges and universities of Europe and found a place in the best foreign libraries. His name became famous among all mathematical experts of the world. Among his correspondents were Benjamin Silliman, John W. Draper and James D. Dana; while his journal was authority at Yale and Johns Hopkins Universities. For ten years, up to 1884, this world-famous Analyst was published at Des Moines by Dr. Joel E. Hendricks. Up to the time it was discontinued, no journal of mathematics had been published so long in America. It is one of the remarkable events of the Nineteenth Century that a self-educated man should, by his own genius and industry, without instruction, reach such an exalted place among the world's great scholars. Dr. Hendricks died in Des Moines on the 9th of June, 1893. *History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/Volume 4 by Benjamin F. Gue
A more complete mathematical biography of Mr. Hendricks can be found in The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol 1, #3, 1894.

1847 John Hailstone (13 Dec, 1759– 9 June, 1847), English geologist, born near London, was placed at an early age under the care of a maternal uncle at York, and was sent to Beverley school in the East Riding. Samuel Hailstone was a younger brother. John went to Cambridge, entering first at Catharine Hall, and afterwards at Trinity College, and was second wrangler and second in the Smith Prize of his year (1782). He was second in both competitions to James Wood who became master of Saint Johns, and Dean of Ely. Hailstone was elected fellow of Trinity in 1784, and four years later became Woodwardian Professor of Geology, an office which he held for thirty years.
He went to Germany, and studied geology under Werner at Freiburg for about twelve months. On his return to Cambridge he devoted himself to the study and collection of geological specimens, but did not deliver any lectures. He published, however, in 1792, ‘A Plan of a course of lectures.’
He married, and retired to the vicarage of Trumpington, near Cambridge, in 1818, and worked zealously for the education of the poor of his parish. He devoted much attention to chemistry and mineralogy, as well as to his favourite science, and kept for many years a meteorological diary. He made additions to the Woodwardian Museum, and left manuscript journals of his travels at home and abroad, and much correspondence on geological subjects. He was elected to the Linnean Society in 1800, and to the Royal Society in 1801, and was one of the original members of the Geological Society. Hailstone contributed papers to the ‘Transactions of the Geological Society’ (1816, iii. 243–50), the ‘Transactions of the Cambridge Philosophical Society’ (1822, i. 453–8), and the British Association (Report, 1834, p. 569). He died at Trumpington in his eighty-eighth year. *Wik

1897 Alvan Graham Clark (July 10, 1832 – June 9, 1897) U.S. astronomer, one of an American family of telescope makers and astronomers who supplied unexcelled lenses to many observatories in the U.S. and Europe during the heyday of the refracting telescope. He began a deep interest in astronomy while still at school, then joined the family firm of Alvan Clark & Sons, makers of astronomical lenses. In 1861, testing a new lens, he looked through it at Sirius and observed faintly beside it, Sirius B, the twin star predicted by Friedrich Bessel in 1844. Carrying on the family business, after the deaths of his father and brother, Clark made the 40" lenses of the Yerkes telescope (still the largest refractor in the world). Their safe delivery was a source of anxiety. He died shortly after their first use.

1969 Harold  Davenport (30 October 1907 – 9 June 1969) worked on number theory, in particular the geometry of numbers, Diophantine approximation and the analytic theory of numbers. He wrote a number of important textbooks and monographs including The higher arithmetic (1952)*SAU

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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