Wednesday, 25 February 2015

On This Day in Math - February 25

Cathedral Church of St Paul the Apostle *Wik


People must understand that science is inherently neither a potential for good nor for evil. 
It is a potential to be harnessed by man to do his bidding.
~Glenn T. Seaborg

The 56th day of the year; There are 56 normalized 5x5 Latin Squares (First row and column have 1,2,3,4,5; and no number appears twice in a row or column. There are a much smaller number of 4x4 squares, try them first)
EVENTS
1598 John Dee demonstrates the solar eclipse by viewing an image through a pinhole. Two versions from Ashmole and Aubrey give different details of who was present. Dee's Diary only contains the notation, "the eclips. A clowdy day, but great darkness about 9 1/2 maine " *Benjamin Wooley, The Queen's Conjuror

1606 Henry Briggs sends a Letter to Mr. Clarke, of Gravesend, dated from Gresham College, with which he sends him the description of a ruler, called Bedwell's ruler, with directions how to use it. (it seems from the letter to be a ruler for measuring the volume of timber. If you have information on where I could see a picture or other image of the device, please advise) *Augustus De Morgan, Correspondence of scientific men of the seventeenth century

1870 Hermann Amandus Schwarz sent his friend Georg Cantor a letter containing the first rigorous proof of the theorem that if the derivative of a function vanishes then the function is constant. See H. Meschkowski, Ways of Thought of Great Mathematicians, pp. 87–89 for an English translation of the letter. *VFR

1959 The APT Language is Demonstrated: The Automatically Programmed Tools language is demonstrated. APT is an English-like language that tells tools how to work and is mainly used in computer-assisted manufacturing.
NEW YORKER: Cambridge, Mass. - Feb. 25: The Air Force announced today that it has a machine that can receive instructions in English - figure out how to make whatever is wanted- and teach other machines how to make it. An Air Force general said it will enable the United States to build a war machine that nobody would want to tackle. Today it made an ashtray. *CHM

1976 Romania issued a stamp picturing the mathematician Anton Davidoglu (1876–1958). [Scott #2613] *VFR

BIRTHS
1670 Maria Winckelmann (Maria Margarethe Winckelmann Kirch (25 Feb 1670 in Panitzsch, near Leipzig, Germany - 29 Dec 1720 in Berlin, Germany) was a German astronomer who helped her husband with his observations. She was the first woman to discover a comet.*SAU "German astronomer Maria Kirch (1670 – 1720). Kirch was original educated by her father and her uncle who believed that girls should receive the same education as boys. From them she learnt mathematics and astronomy going on to study with and work together with the amateur astronomer Christoph Arnold. Through Arnold she got to know the astronomer Gottfried Kirch and despite the fact that he was 30 years older than her they married. Kirch was official astronomer of the Berlin Royal Academy of Science and he and Maria ran the Academy’s observatory together for many years. In 1702 she became the first woman to discover a comet but the credit for the discovery was given to her husband. When Gottfried died in 1710 Maria applied for his position arguing correctly that she had done half of the work in the past. Despite her having published independently and having an excellent reputation as well as the active support of Leibniz the Academy refused to award her the post. She worked in various other observatories until 1717 when her son was appointed to his fathers post, Maria once again becoming the assistant. Despite having more than proved her equality to any male astronomer Maria never really received the recognition she deserved." From Thony Christie's Renaissance Mathematicus blog on Daughters of Urania.

1827 Henry William Watson (25 Feb 1827 in Marylebone, London, England - 11 Jan 1903 in Berkswell (near Coventry), England) was an English mathematician who wrote some influential text-books on electricity and magnetism. *SAU

1902 Kenjiro Shoda (February 25, 1902 – March 3, 1977 *SAU gives March 20 for death) was a Japanese mathematician. He was interested in group theory, and went to Berlin to work with Issai Schur. After one year in Berlin, Shoda went to Göttingen to study with Emmy Noether. Noether's school brought a mathematical growth to him. In 1929 he returned to Japan. Soon afterwards, he began to write Abstract Algebra, his mathematical textbook in Japanese for advanced learners. It was published in 1932 and soon recognised as a significant work for mathematics in Japan. It became a standard textbook and was reprinted many times.*Wik

1922 Ernst Gabor Straus (February 25, 1922 – July 12, 1983) was a German-American mathematician who helped found the theories of Euclidean Ramsey theory and of the arithmetic properties of analytic functions. His extensive list of co-authors includes Albert Einstein and Paul Erdős as well as other notable researchers including Richard Bellman, Béla Bollobás, Sarvadaman Chowla, Ronald Graham, László Lovász, Carl Pomerance, and George Szekeres. It is due to his collaboration with Straus that Einstein has Erdős number 2. *Wik

1926 Masatoşi Gündüz İkeda (25 February 1926, Tokyo. - 9 February 2003, Ankara), was a Turkish mathematician of Japanese ancestry, known for his contributions to the field of algebraic number theory. *Wik


DEATHS
1723 Sir Christopher Wren (20 Oct 1632; 25 Feb 1723) Architect, astronomer, and geometrician who was the greatest English architect of his time (Some may suggest Hooke as an equal) whose famous masterpiece is St. Paul's Cathedral, among many other buildings after London's Great Fire of 1666. Wren learned scientific skills as an assistant to an eminent anatomist. Through astronomy, he developed skills in working models, diagrams and charting that proved useful when he entered architecture. He inventing a "weather clock" similar to a modern barometer, new engraving methods, and helped develop a blood transfusion technique. He was president of the Royal Society 1680-82. His scientific work was highly regarded by Sir Isaac Newton as stated in the Principia. *TIS
Thony Christie points out that, "Most people don’t realise that as well as being Britain’s most famous 17th century architect, Wren was also a highly respected mathematician. In fact Isaac Newton named him along with John Wallace and William Oughtred as one of the three best English mathematicians of the 17th century. As a young man he was an active astronomer and was a highly vocal supporter of the then still relatively young elliptical astronomy of Johannes Kepler."

(I love the message on his tomb in the Crypt of St. Pauls: Si monumentum requiris circumspice ...."Reader, if you seek his monument, look about you." Lisa Jardine's book is excellent









1775 William Small (13 October 1734; Carmyllie, Angus, Scotland – 25 February 1775; Birmingham, England). He attended Dundee Grammar School, and Marischal College, Aberdeen where he received an MA in 1755. In 1758, he was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, then one of Britain’s American colonies.
Small is known for being Thomas Jefferson's professor at William and Mary, and for having an influence on the young Jefferson. Small introduced him to members of Virginia society who were to have an important role in Jefferson's life, including George Wythe a leading jurist in the colonies and Francis Fauquier, the Governor of Virginia.
Recalling his years as a student, Thomas Jefferson described Small as:
"a man profound in most of the useful branches of science, with a happy talent of communication, correct and gentlemanly manners, and a large and liberal mind... from his conversation I got my first views of the expansion of science and of the system of things in which we are placed."
In 1764 Small returned to Britain, with a letter of introduction to Matthew Boulton from Benjamin Franklin. Through this connection Small was elected to the Lunar Society, a prestigious club of scientists and industrialists.
In 1765 he received his MD and established a medical practice in Birmingham, and shared a house with John Ash, a leading physician in the city. Small was Boulton's doctor and became a close friend of Erasmus Darwin, Thomas Day, James Keir, James Watt, Anna Seward and others connected with the Lunar Society. He was one of the best-liked members of the society and an active contributor to their debates.
Small died in Birmingham on 25 February 1775 from malaria contracted during his stay in Virginia. He is buried in St. Philips Church Yard, Birmingham.
The William Small Physical Laboratory, which houses the Physics department at the College of William & Mary, is named in his honor. *Wik

1786 Thomas Wright (22 September 1711 – 25 February 1786) was an English astronomer, mathematician, instrument maker, architect and garden designer. He was the first to describe the shape of the Milky Way and speculate that faint nebulae were distant galaxies.*Wik

1947 Louis Carl Heinrich Friedrich Paschen (22 Jan 1865; 25 Feb 1947) was a German physicist who was an outstanding experimental spectroscopist. In 1895, in a detailed study of the spectral series of helium, an element then newly discovered on earth, he showed the identical match with the spectral lines of helium as originally found in the solar spectrum by Janssen and Lockyer nearly 40 years earlier. He is remembered for the Paschen Series of spectral lines of hydrogen which he elucidated in 1908. *TIS

1950 Nikolai Nikolaevich Luzin, (also spelled Lusin) (9 December 1883, Irkutsk – 28 January 1950, Moscow), was a Soviet/Russian mathematician known for his work in descriptive set theory and aspects of mathematical analysis with strong connections to point-set topology. He was the eponym of Luzitania, a loose group of young Moscow mathematicians of the first half of the 1920s. They adopted his set-theoretic orientation, and went on to apply it in other areas of mathematics.*Wik

1972 Władysław Hugo Dionizy Steinhaus (January 14, 1887 – February 25, 1972) was a Polish mathematician and educator. Steinhaus obtained his PhD under David Hilbert at Göttingen University in 1911 and later became a professor at the University of Lwów, where he helped establish what later became known as the Lwów School of Mathematics. He is credited with "discovering" mathematician Stefan Banach, with whom he gave a notable contribution to functional analysis through the Banach-Steinhaus theorem. After World War II Steinhaus played an important part in the establishment of the mathematics department at Wrocław University and in the revival of Polish mathematics from the destruction of the war.
Author of around 170 scientific articles and books, Steinhaus has left its legacy and contribution on many branches of mathematics, such as functional analysis, geometry, mathematical logic, and trigonometry. Notably he is regarded as one of the early founders of the game theory and the probability theory preceding in his studies, later, more comprehensive approaches, by other scholars. *Wik
His Mathematical Snapshots is a delight to read, but get the first English edition if you can—there are lots of surprises there. *VFR
"When Steinhaus failed to attend an important meeting of the Committee of the Polish Academy of Sciences in 1960, he received a letter chiding him for "not having justified his absence." He immediately wired the President of the Academy that "as long as there are members who have not yet justified their presence, I do not need to justify my absence."
[ Told by Mark Kac in "Hugo Steinhaus -- A Remembrance and a Tribute," Amer. Math. Monthly 81 (June-July 1974) 578. ] * http://komplexify.com






1988 Kurt Mahler (26 July 1903, Krefeld, Germany – 25 February 1988, Canberra, Australia) was a mathematician and Fellow of the Royal Society. Mahler proved that the Prouhet–Thue–Morse constant and the Champernowne constant 0.1234567891011121314151617181920... are transcendental numbers.
He was a student at the universities in Frankfurt and Göttingen, graduating with a Ph.D. from Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main in 1927. He left Germany with the rise of Hitler and accepted an invitation by Louis Mordell to go to Manchester. He became a British citizen in 1946.
He was elected a member of the Royal Society in 1948 and a member of the Australian Academy of Science in 1965. He was awarded the London Mathematical Society's Senior Berwick Prize in 1950, the De Morgan Medal, 1971, and the Thomas Ranken Lyle Medal, 1977. *Wik

1999 Glenn Theodore Seaborg (April 19, 1912,Ishpeming, Michigan – February 25, 1999) was an American scientist who won the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "discoveries in the chemistry of the transuranium elements", contributed to the discovery and isolation of ten elements, and developed the actinide concept, which led to the current arrangement of the actinoid series in the periodic table of the elements. He spent most of his career as an educator and research scientist at the University of California, Berkeley where he became the second Chancellor in its history and served as a University Professor. Seaborg advised ten presidents from Harry S. Truman to Bill Clinton on nuclear policy and was the chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission from 1961 to 1971 where he pushed for commercial nuclear energy and peaceful applications of nuclear science.
The element seaborgium was named after Seaborg by Albert Ghiorso, E. Kenneth Hulet, and others, who also credited Seaborg as a co-discoverer. It was so named while Seaborg was still alive, which proved controversial. He influenced the naming of so many elements that with the announcement of seaborgium, it was noted in Discover magazine's review of the year in science that he could receive a letter addressed in chemical elements: seaborgium, lawrencium (for the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory where he worked), berkelium, californium, americium
(Once when being aggressively cross-examined during testimony on nuclear energy for a senate committee, the Senator asked, “How much do you really know about Plutonium.” Seaborg quietly answered, “Sir, I discovered it.” , Which he did as part of the team at the Manhattan Project. *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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