Wednesday, 30 March 2016

On This Day in Math - March 30

Jaime Escalante *Wik

A mathematician is a person who can find analogies between theorems; a better mathematician is one who can see analogies between proofs and the best mathematician can notice analogies between theories. One can imagine that the ultimate mathematician is one who can see analogies between analogies.
~Stefan Banach

The 90th day of the year; 90 is the only number that is the sum of its digits plus the sum of the squares of its digits. (Is there any interesting distinction to the rest of the numbers for which this sum is more (or less) than the original number?)

\( \frac{90^3 - 1}{90 - 1} \) is a Mersenne prime.

90 is the smallest number having 6 representations as a sum of four positive squares

90 is the number of degrees in a right angle. Moreover, as a compass direction, 90 degrees corresponds to east.
Which reminds me of a fun math joke:"The number you have dialed is imaginary. Please rotate you phone by 90 degrees and dial again."

And 90 is the sum of the first 9 consecutive even numbers,
the sum of consecutive integers in two different ways,
 the sum of two consecutive primes,
and of six consecutive primes,
 and the sum of five consecutive squares.
(all proofs left to the reader.)


In 239, B.C., was the first recorded perihelion passage of Halley's Comet by Chinese astronomers in the Shih Chi and Wen Hsien Thung Khao chronicles. Its highly elliptical, 75-year orbit carries it out well beyond the orbit of Neptune and well inside the orbits of Earth and Venus when it swings in around the Sun, traveling in the opposite direction from the revolution of the planets. It was the first comet that was recognized as being periodic. An Englishman, Edmond Halley predicted in 1705 that the comet that appeared over London in 1682 would reappear again in 1759, and that it was the same comet that appeared in 1607 and 1531. When the comet did in fact reappear again in 1759, as correctly predicted, it was named (posthumously) after Halley. *TIS
Comets have been observed and recorded in China since the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC). The set of comet illustrations shown below is from a silk book written during the western Han period.
* Marilyn Shea,

1612 The Jesuit astronomer Christoph Scheiner thought he had discovered a 5th Jupiter moon He was mistaken. *Thony Christie, @rmathematicus

In 1791, after a proposal by the Académie des sciences (Borda, Lagrange, Laplace, Monge and Condorcet), the French National Assembly finally chose that a metre would be a 1/10 000 000 of the distance between the north pole and the equator. *TIS (although at the time, this distance was not known. To determine the distance from the North Pole to the equator it was assumed that a portion of a meridian could be measured accurately and the whole distance could then be estimated from this sample. The meridian chosen went from Barcelona in Spain, to Dunquerque in France; this choice was an early example of the intended international nature of the metric system. Two astronomers, Borda and Méchain, were appointed to carry out the measurement. )

1796 The nineteen year old Gauss began his scientific diary with his construction of the regular 17-gon. The Greeks had ruler-and-compass constructions for the regular polygons with 3, 4, 5 and 15 sides, and for all others obtainable from these by doubling the number of sides. Here the problem rested until Gauss completely solved it: A regular n-gon is constructable IFF n is a product of a power of 2 and one or more distinct Fermat primes, i.e., primes of the form 22n +1. This discovery led Gauss to devote his life to mathematics rather than philology. *VFR Gauss told his close friend Bolyai that the regular 17-gon should adorn his tombstone, but this was not done. There is a 17 pointed star on the base of a monument to him in Brunswick because the stonemason felt everyone would mistake the 17-gon for a circle. Gauss gave the tablet on which he had made the discovery to Bolyai, along with a pipe, as a souvenir. (I have been unable to find any later trace of the pipe or tablet, but if anyone has knowledge of the I would appreciate any information.)
*Genial Gauss Gottingen

1858 Pencil with attached eraser patented. It has benefited generations of mathematics students. The first patent for attaching an eraser to a pencil was issued to a man from Philadelphia named Hyman Lipman. This patent was later held to be invalid because it was merely the combination of two things, without a new use. I found a note at that said that "Before rubber, breadcrumbs had been used to erase pencil marks."

1867 The U. S. purchases Alaska from Russia for $7,200,000 in gold. The most prominent American mathematician of the time, Benjamin Peirce, then superintendent of the Coast Survey, played a role in the acquisition by sending out a reconnaissance party whose reports were important aids to proponents of the purchase. *VFR

1951 UNIVAC I turned over to Census Bureau. During ENIAC project, Mauchly met with several Census Bureau officials to discuss non-military applications for electronic computing devices. In 1946, with ENIAC completed, Mauchly and Eckert were able to secure a study contract from the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) to begin work on a computer designed for use by the Census Bureau. This study, originally scheduled for six months, took about a year to complete. The final result were specifications for the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC).
UNIVAC was, effectively, an updated version of ENIAC. Data could be input using magnetic computer tape (and, by the early 1950's, punch cards). It was tabulated using vacuum tubes and state-of-the-art circuits then either printed out or stored on more magnetic tape.
Mauchly and Eckert began building UNIVAC I in 1948 and delivered the completed machine to the Census Bureau in March 1951. The computer was used to tabulate part of the 1950 population census and the entire 1954 economic census. Throughout the 1950's, UNIVAC also played a key role in several monthly economic surveys. The computer excelled at working with the repetitive but intricate mathematics involved in weighting and sampling for these surveys.
UNIVAC I, as the first successful civilian computer, was a key part of the dawn of the computer age *US CENSUS Bureau Web page

In 1953, Albert Einstein announced his revised unified field theory.*TIS

1985 M.I.T. computer science graduate students Robert W. Baldwin and Alan T. Sherman successfully decode a cipher consisting of a series of numbers separated by commas. They failed to share in the $116,000 prize offered by Decipher Inc. since they misread the contest rules—the contest ended the previous evening. [Burlington Free Press, 5 April 1985.]

2010 A Blue moon - The second full moon of the month of March. The next month with a blue moon will be in 2012: August 2, August 31

1862 Leonard James Rogers (30 March 1862, 12 Sept 1933) Rogers was a man of extraordinary gifts in many fields, and everything he did, he did well. Besides his mathematics and music he had many interests; he was a born linguist and phonetician, a wonderful mimic who delighted to talk broad Yorkshire, a first-class skater, and a maker of rock gardens. He did things well because he liked doing them. Music was the first necessity in his intellectual life, and after that came mathematics. He had very little ambition or desire for recognition.
Rogers is now remembered for a remarkable set of identities which are special cases of results which he had published in 1894. Such names as Rogers-Ramanujan identities, Rogers-Ramanujan continued fractions and Rogers transformations are known in the theory of partitions, combinatorics and hypergeometric series. *SAU

1864 Helen Abbot Merrill born in Llewellyn Park, Orange, New Jersey. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1886, taught school for several years and then returned to teach at Wellesley from 1893 until her retirement in 1932. She studied function theory with Heinrich Maschke at Chicago, descriptive geometry with G. F. Shilling at G¨ottingen, and function theory with James Pierpont at Yale, where she received her Ph.D. in 1903. She wrote a popular book about mathematics, Mathematical Excursions (1933), that has been reprinted by Dover.*WM
A rare (and a little pricey) collectors favorite

1879 Bernhard Voldemar Schmidt (30 Mar 1879, 1 Dec 1935) Astronomer and optical instrument maker who invented the telescope named for him. In 1929, he devised a new mirror system for reflecting telescopes which overcame previous problems of aberration of the image. He used a vacuum to suck the glass into a mold, polishing it flat, then allowing in to spring back into shape. The Schmidt telescope is now widely used in astronomy to photograph large sections of the sky because of its large field of view and its fine image definition. He lost his arm as a child while experimenting with explosives. Schmidt spent the last year of his life in a mental hospital.*TIS

1886 Stanisław Leśniewski (March 30, 1886, Serpukhov – May 13, 1939, Warsaw) was a Polish mathematician, philosopher and logician. Leśniewski belonged to the first generation of the Lwów-Warsaw School of logic founded by Kazimierz Twardowski. Together with Alfred Tarski and Jan Łukasiewicz, he formed the troika which made the University of Warsaw, during the Interbellum, perhaps the most important research center in the world for formal logic. *Wik

1892 Stefan Banach (30 Mar 1892, 31 Aug 1945) Polish mathematician who founded modern functional analysis and helped develop the theory of topological vector spaces. In addition, he contributed to measure theory, integration, the theory of sets, and orthogonal series. In his dissertation, written in 1920, he defined axiomatically what today is called a Banach space. The idea was introduced by others at about the same time (for example Wiener introduced the notion but did not develop the theory). The name 'Banach space' was coined by Fréchet. Banach algebras were also named after him. The importance of Banach's contribution is that he developed a systematic theory of functional analysis, where before there had only been isolated results which were later seen to fit into the new theory. *TIS
His doctoral dissertation, which was published in Fundamenta Mathematicae in 1922, marks the birth of functional analysis. *VFR

1921 Alfréd Rényi (20 March 1921 – 1 February 1970) was a Hungarian mathematician who made contributions in combinatorics, graph theory, number theory but mostly in probability theory. He proved, using the large sieve, that there is a number K such that every even number is the sum of a prime number and a number that can be written as the product of at most K primes. See also Goldbach conjecture.
In information theory, he introduced the spectrum of Rényi entropies of order α, giving an important generalisation of the Shannon entropy and the Kullback-Leibler divergence. The Rényi entropies give a spectrum of useful diversity indices, and lead to a spectrum of fractal dimensions. The Rényi–Ulam game is a guessing game where some of the answers may be wrong.
He wrote 32 joint papers with Paul Erdős, the most well-known of which are his papers introducing the Erdős–Rényi model of random graphs. Rényi, who was addicted to coffee, invented the quote: "A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems.", which is generally ascribed to Erdős. The sentence was originally in German, being a wordplay on the double meaning of the word Satz (theorem or residue of coffee). *Wik

1929 Ilya Piatetski-Shapiro (30 March 1929 – 21 February 2009) During a career that spanned 60 years he made major contributions to applied science as well as theoretical mathematics. In the last forty years his research focused on pure mathematics; in particular, analytic number theory, group representations and algebraic geometry. His main contribution and impact was in the area of automorphic forms and L-functions.
For the last 30 years of his life he suffered from Parkinson's disease. However, with the help of his wife Edith, he was able to continue to work and do mathematics at the highest level, even when he was barely able to walk and speak.*Wik

1559 Adam Ries (23 Dec 1492 in Staffelstein (near Bamberg), Upper Franconia (now Germany) - 30 March 1559 in Annaberg, Saxony (now Annaberg-Buchholz, Germany) Ries's income came mainly from his arithmetic textbooks. The first of these was Rechnung auff der linihen written while he was in Erfurt and printed in that city in 1518 by Mathes Maler. The book was intended to teach people how to use a calculating board similar to an abacus. This type of device is described by the Money Museum,
Four horizontal and five vertical lines were painted or carved on the calculating boards to represent the decimal values in ascending order. The arithmetical sums were worked out with the help of coin-like counters. They were placed on the respective lines according to the values of the numbers and then, depending on the calculation, these were moved, removed or added to the lines until the final result could be read off. No numbers were printed on the counters; they amounted to as much as the line on which they were placed.
No copy of the first edition of this book has survived, the earliest that we have is the second of the four editions which was published in 1525.
Dirk Struik writes,
Adam Ries has remained in German memory because of his Rechenbücher -schoolbooks on arithmetic, popular for a century and a half. It is less known that he also wrote an algebra, called the Cosz, but this work has remained in manuscript form. Three of these manuscripts were bound together in 1664 by the Dresden Rechenmeister Martin Kupffer. They were thought to be lost until they were found in 1855, and are now kept at the Erzgebirgsmuseum Annaberg-Buchholz, Annaberg being the Saxonian mining town where Ries lived as a respected citizen and teacher for many years until his death. The impressive folio facsimile, published on the occasion of the 500th birthday of Ries, contains three manuscripts: Cosz I (pp. 1-325) was finished in 1524, Cosz II (pp. 329-499) was written between 1545 and 1550 ...
Thony Christie pointed out to me that the German Wikipedia gives his date of death as April 2. He also has confirmed that the phrase "das macht nach Adam Ries" (That's according to Adam Ries) is still used in Germany to indicate something is done correctly, sort of like the American idiom, "according to Hoyle."

And here is the amazing story of how he was billed for his television license over 450 years after his death.

1832 Stephen Groombridge (7 Jan 1755; 30 Mar 1832) English astronomer and merchant, who compiled the Catalogue of Circumpolar Stars (corrected edition published 1838), often known as the Groombridge Catalog. For ten years, from 1806, he made observations using a transit circle, followed by another 10 years adjusting the data to correct for refraction, instrument error and clock error. He retired from the West Indian trade in 1815 to devote full time to the project. He was a founder of the Astronomical Society (1820). His work was continued by others when he was struck (1827) with a "severe attack of paralysis" from which he never fully recovered. The catalog eventually listed 4,243 stars situated within 50° of the North Pole and having apparent magnitudes greater than 9. Editions of the catalog were published posthumously. The 1833 edition was withdrawn due to errors, and corrected in 1838 by A Catalog of Circumpolar Stars, Reduced to January 1, 1810, edited by G. Biddell Airy. *TIS

1914 John Henry Poynting (9 Sep 1852; 30 Mar 1914)British physicist who introduced a theorem (1884-85) that assigns a value to the rate of flow of electromagnetic energy known as the Poynting vector, introduced in his paper On the Transfer of Energy in the Electromagnetic Field (1884). In this he showed that the flow of energy at a point can be expressed by a simple formula in terms of the electric and magnetic forces at that point. He determined the mean density of the Earth (1891) and made a determination of the gravitational constant (1893) using accurate torsion balances. He was also the first to suggest, in 1903, the existence of the effect of radiation from the Sun that causes smaller particles in orbit about the Sun to spiral close and eventually plunge in.*TIS

1944 Sir Charles Vernon Boys (15 Mar 1855; 30 Mar 1944 at age 88) English physicist and inventor of sensitive instruments. He graduated in mining and metallurgy, self-taught in a wide knowledge of geometrical methods. In 1881, he invented the integraph, a machine for drawing the antiderivative of a function. Boys is known particularly for his utilization of the torsion of quartz fibres in the measurement of minute forces, enabling him to elaborate (1895) on Henry Cavendish's experiment to improve the values obtained for the Newtonian gravitational constant. He also invented an improved automatic recording calorimeter for testing manufactured gas (1905) and high-speed cameras to photograph rapidly moving objects, such as bullets and lightning discharges. Upon retirement in 1939, he grew weeds.*TIS

1954 Fritz Wolfgang London (7 Mar 1900; 30 Mar 1954 at age 53) German-American physicist who, with Walter Heitler, devised the first quantum mechanical treatment of the hydrogen molecule, while working with Erwin Schrödinger at the University of Zurich. In a seminal paper (1927), they developed a wave equation for the hydrogen molecule with which it was possible to calculate approximate values of the molecule's ionization potential, heat of dissociation, and other constants. These predicted values were reasonably consistent with empirical values obtained by spectroscopic and chemical means. This theory of the chemical binding of homopolar molecules is considered one of the most important advances in modern chemistry. The approach is later called the valence-bond theory. *TIS

1995 John Lighton Synge (March 23, 1897–March 30, 1995) was an Irish mathematician and physicist. Synge made outstanding contributions to different fields of work including classical mechanics, general mechanics and geometrical optics, gas dynamics, hydrodynamics, elasticity, electrical networks, mathematical methods, differential geometry, and Einstein's theory of relativity. He studied an extensive range of mathematical physics problems, but his best known work revolved around using geometrical methods in general relativity.
He was one of the first physicists to seriously study the interior of a black hole, and is sometimes credited with anticipating the discovery of the structure of the Schwarzschild vacuum (a black hole).
He also created the game of Vish in which players compete to find circularity (vicious circles) in dictionary definitions. *Wik

2000 George Keith Batchelor FRS (8 March 1920 – 30 March 2000) was an Australian applied mathematician and fluid dynamicist. He was for many years the Professor of Applied Mathematics in the University of Cambridge, and was founding head of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP). In 1956 he founded the influential Journal of Fluid Mechanics which he edited for some forty years. Prior to Cambridge he studied in Melbourne High School.
As an applied mathematician (and for some years at Cambridge a co-worker with Sir Geoffrey Taylor in the field of turbulent flow), he was a keen advocate of the need for physical understanding and sound experimental basis.
His An Introduction to Fluid Dynamics (CUP, 1967) is still considered a classic of the subject, and has been re-issued in the Cambridge Mathematical Library series, following strong current demand. Unusual for an 'elementary' textbook of that era, it presented a treatment in which the properties of a real viscous fluid were fully emphasized. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1959.*Wik

2010 Jaime Alfonso Escalante Gutierrez (December 31, 1930 — March 30, 2010) was a Bolivian educator well-known for teaching students calculus from 1974 to 1991 at Garfield High School, East Los Angeles, California. Escalante was the subject of the 1988 film Stand and Deliver, in which he is portrayed by Edward James Olmos.*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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