Monday, 13 March 2017

On This Day in Math - March 13

Many Paris Street signs are named for Mathematicians *The n-Category Cafe

It is my task to convince you not to turn away because you don't understand it. You see my physics students don't understand it... That is because I don't understand it. Nobody does.
~Richard Feynman

The 72nd day of the year; 72 is a pronic, heteromecic, or oblong number (and sometimes pronic is spelled promic). They are numbers that are the product of two consecutive integers
Oblong numbers have the property that if they are used in infinite nested radicals, they produce an integer, \(\sqrt(72+\sqrt(72+\sqrt(72+...))) = 9 \)

72 is the smallest number whose fifth power is the sum of five smaller fifth powers: \(19^5 + 43^5 + 46^5 + 47^5 + 67^5 = 72^5\).
The rule of 72 was once a commonly used approximation in banking and finance for the time it took an investment to double at r%. For a 5% investment, the approximate period would be 72/5 = 14.4 years. The rule applies to compound interest. The rule is based on an approximation of ln(2) = .693..

The Rhombicuboctahedron or Great Rhombicuboctahedron is an Archimedian solid that has 72 edges. It has 12 faces that are squares, 8 faces that are hexagons, and six faces that are octagons, for a total of 26 faces in all. Knowing the number of edges and faces, good students can calculate the number of vertices using Euler's Gem. (there is a lesser Rhombicuboctahedron or just Cubicuboctahedron which is a faceted version of the greater)


1639 Harvard University named after its London born clergyman founder John Harvard. Harvard was founded in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, making it the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Initially called "New College" or "the college at New Towne", the institution was renamed Harvard College on March 13, 1639. It was named after John Harvard, a young English clergyman from Southwark, London, an alumnus of the University of Cambridge (after which Cambridge, Massachusetts is named), who bequeathed the College his library of four hundred books and £779 pounds sterling, which was half of his estate. *Wik

1641 Vincenzo Renieri wrote to Galileo describing certain experiments on falling bodies, including dropping weights from the Tower in Pisa. In his trial a lead weight and a wooden one, of equal sizes, were dropped but in his trial they arrived three cubits apart. He asked Galileo if he had an explanation. At this time Galileo was already old and blind, and his assistant was Viviani.   “Thus Vincenzo Viviani’s account of the results of Galileo’s experiments that involved dropping different weights from the top of the bell tower of Pisa seems to be completely unfounded.” 

1758 Halley’s comet in perihelion, as he predicted in 1682. The comet last reached perihelion on 9 February 1986, and will next reach it again on 28 July 2061 *Wik

1781 Sir William Herschel discovered Uranus at 10:30 PM.(The first planet discovered by a telescope) During his search for double stars Herschel noticed an object appearing as a nonstellar disk. Herschel originally thought it was a comet or a star. He made many more observations of it, and afterwards Russian Academician Anders Lexell computed the orbit and found it to be probably planetary. Herschel determined in agreement that it must be a planet beyond the orbit of Saturn. He called the new planet the 'Georgian star' (Georgium sidus) after King George III, which also brought him favor; the name didn't stick, however. In France, where reference to the British king was to be avoided if possible, the planet was known as 'Herschel' until the name 'Uranus' was universally adopted.*Wik

1889 New York Tribune carries report of Senate sidelined by new game, Pigs in Clover, invented by Charles Martin Crandall. :
Senator William M. Evarts purchased one from a street fakir in order to get rid of him. He took the puzzle home and worked it for hours. The following morning he brought it with him into senate chambers where Senator George Graham Vest stopped by Evarts' desk, borrowed the puzzle and took it to a cloak room. Soon thereafter he was joined by Senators James L. Pugh, James B. Eustis, Edward C. Walthall and John E. Kenna. A page was sent out to buy five of the puzzles and upon his return, the group engaged in a "pig driving contest". About 30 minutes later, Senator Vest announced his accomplishment of driving the last pig in the pen.
*Antique Toy Collectors of America *Wik

1925 The Butler Act, a law in Tennessee prohibiting the teaching of Darwin’s theory of evolution passed the state senate on March 13, and was signed into law by Governor Austin Peay (for whom the university in Clarksville, Tennessee is named) on March 21. The Butler Act was a 1925 Tennessee law:
That it shall be unlawful for any teacher in any of the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of the State which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, to teach any theory that denies the Story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.
It would remain the law in Tennessee until repealed on September 1, 1967. *Wik

In 1930, the discovery of a ninth planet was announced by Clyde W. Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory. It is only one-tenth as large as Earth and four thousand million miles away. The planet was named Pluto on 24 May 1930.*TIS The discovery made headlines across the globe. The Lowell Observatory, which had the right to name the new object, received over 1,000 suggestions from all over the world, ranging from Atlas to Zymal.
The name Pluto was proposed by Venetia Burney (1918–2009), an eleven-year-old schoolgirl in Oxford, England. Venetia was interested in classical mythology as well as astronomy, and considered the name, a name for the god of the underworld, appropriate for such a presumably dark and cold world. She suggested it in a conversation with her grandfather Falconer Madan, a former librarian at the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library. Madan passed the name to Professor Herbert Hall Turner, who then cabled it to colleagues in the United States.*Wik

1986 Microsoft Goes Public Ten years after the company's founding, Microsoft Corporation stock goes public at \($21\) per share. *CHM Allowing for stock splits and reinvestment of dividends, each \($21\) share then would be worth \($9239 \)today (price may be somewhat dated). (I know, you thought computers were just a fad, too.)

1585 Federico Cesi (13 Mar 1585 OR 26 Feb (sources differ, but Thony Christie did some research to suggest the Feb date is the correct one); 1 Aug 1630 at age 45) Italian scientist who founded the Accademia dei Lincei (1603, Academy of Linceans or Lynxes), often cited as the first modern scientific society, and of which Galileo was the sixth member (1611). Cesi first announced the word telescope for Galileo's instrument. At an early age, while being privately educated, Cesi became interested in natural history and that believed it should be studied directly, not philosophically. The name of the Academy, which he founded at age 18, was taken from Lynceus of Greek mythology, the animal Lynx with sharp sight. He devoted the rest of his life to recording, illustrating and an early classification of nature, especially botany. The Academy was dissolved when its funding by Cesi ceased upon his sudden death(at age 45). *TIS It was revived in its currently well known form of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, by the Vatican, Pope Pius IX in 1847.

1733 Joseph Priestley (13 Mar 1733, 6 Feb 1804) English chemist, clergyman and political theorist who discovered the element oxygen. His early scientific interest was electricity, but he is remembered for his later work in chemistry, especially gases. He investigated the "fixed air" (carbon dioxide) found in a layer above the liquid in beer brewery fermentation vats. Although known by different names at the time, he also discovered sulphur dioxide, ammonia, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and silicon fluoride. Priestley is remembered for his invention of a way of making soda-water (1772), the pneumatic trough, and recognizing that green plants in light released oxygen. His political opinions and support of the French Revolution, were unpopular. After his home and laboratory were set afire (1791), he sailed for America, arriving at New York on 4 Jun 1794 *TIS
The book below gives a wonderful history of scientific cooperation in this period. "This 18th century group of science fans and practitioners centred around Charles Darwin’s maternal and paternal grandfathers, Josiah Wedgwood and Erasmus Darwin, met monthly at full moon to facilitate the members journey home in the dark. Apart from Priestley, Darwin and Wedgwood notable other members, some corresponding, were Boulton and Watt of steam engine fame, Benjamin Franklin, James Hutton, Joseph Banks, William Herschel and a host of other scientific worthies." *Thony Christie, The lunatic who invented fizzy pop.

1842 Joseph Valentin Boussinesq (13 March 1842 – 19 February 1929) was a French mathematician and physicist who made significant contributions to the theory of hydrodynamics, vibration, light, and heat.
In 1897 he published Théorie de l' écoulement tourbillonnant et tumultueux des liquides, a work that greatly contributed to the study of turbulence and hydrodynamics.*Wik

1855 Percival Lowell (13 Mar 1855, 12 Nov 1916) American astronomer who predicted the existence of the planet Pluto and initiated the search that ended in its discovery. Lowell was also passionately committed to finding proof of intelligent life on Mars. In 1894, he founded the Lowell Observatory, atop Mars Hill, at Flagstaff as Arizona's first astronomical observatory. Studying Mars, Lowell drew in intricate detail, the network of several hundred fine, straight lines and their intersection in a number of "oases." Lowell concluded that the bright areas were deserts and the dark ones were patches of vegetation. He believed further, that water from the melting polar cap flowed down the canals toward the equatorial region to revive the vegetation. *TIS

1866 Dayton Clarence Miller (13 Mar 1866, 22 Feb 1941 at age 74)American physicist. Author of The Science of Musical Sounds (1916). Miller's collection of nearly 1,650 flutes and other instruments, and other materials mostly related to the flute, is now at the Library of Congress. To provide a mechanical means of recording sound waves photographically, he invented the phonodeik (1908).( The Phonodeik converts sound waves into visual images. The name, from "to show sound" was suggested by Edward W. Morley. Before electronic oscilloscopes, this device was used for analyzing sounds waves. The Phonodeik can be modified to project sound waves on a screen for public demonstration.*Wik) He became expert in architectural acoustics. During WW I, he was consulted concerning using his photodeik to help locate enemy guns. Miller spent considerable research effort on repeating the Michelson and Morley experiment, proposed by Maxwell, to detect a stationary aether. He spent some time working with Morley (1902-4), then more time at Mt. Wilson, recording results favoring the presence of the aether.*TIS

1899 John Hasbrouck Van Vleck (13 Mar 1899, 27 Oct 1980) was an American physicist and mathematician who shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1977 with Philip W. Anderson and Sir Nevill F. Mott. The prize honoured Van Vleck's contributions to the understanding of the behaviour of electrons in magnetic, noncrystalline solid materials. In about 1930, he introduced the contribution of the second-order Zeeman effect into the theory of the paramagnetic susceptibility for the ions of the elements samarium and europium, thus bringing calculations into agreement with experimental results. Hans Bethe's theoretical work (c.1929), was extended by Van Vleck to develop the ligand, or crystal, field theory of molecular bonding. He also studied the theory for the nature of the chemical bond, especially as related to its magnetic properties, and contributed to theory of the spectra of free molecules.*TIS

1925 John Torrence Tate Jr. (March 13, 1925, ) is an American mathematician, distinguished for many fundamental contributions in algebraic number theory, arithmetic geometry and related areas in algebraic geometry. Tate has been described as "one of the seminal mathematicians for the past half-century" by William Beckner, Chairman of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Texas.*Wik

1928 Paulo Ribenboim (March 13, 1928, )is a mathematician who specializes in number theory. Ribenboim was born in Recife, Brazil, and has lived in Canada since 1962.He has authored 13 books and 120 articles. Ribenboim has been a professor of mathematics at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, and is now a professor emeritus.*Wik

1833 Daniel Friedrich Hecht (8 July 1777 in Sosa – 13 March 1833 in Saxony) was a German mathematician. He was a mine manager, then a teacher and finally a professor of mathematics. He is most notable for writing high school textbooks on maths and geometry. *Wik

1884 Siegfried Heinrich Aronhold (16 July 1819 Angerburg, East Prussia – 13 March 1884, Berlin, Germany) was a German mathematician who worked on invariant theory and introduced the symbolic method.*Wik

1933 Robert Thorburn Ayton Innes (10 Nov 1861; 13 Mar 1933) was a Scottish astronomer who discovered Proxima Centauri (1915), the closest star to earth after the Sun. Invited by David Gill to the Cape Observatory, South Africa (1894), he became a successful binary star observer with the 7-inch refractor (1628 discoveries). His most famous discovery, Proxima Centauri is a faint star near the binary star Alpha Centauri, which is so far south it is
photo by Lowell Observatory
not visible from most of the northern hemisphere. He was also one of the first to see the Daylight Comet of 1910, though this comet was found independently by so many people in the Southern Hemisphere that no single "original" discoverer could be named. Innes recorded it on 17 Jan 1910. *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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