Saturday 11 June 2011

On This Day in Math - June 11

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered;
the point is to discover them.
~Galileo Galilei


1644 Florentine scientist, Evangelista Torricelli described in a letter (to Michelangelo Ricci) the invention of a barometer, or "Torricellian tube." 
"Many have said that a vacuum does not exist, others that it does exist in spite of the repugnance of nature and with difficulty; I know of no one who has said that it exists without difficulty and without a resistance from nature. I argued thus: If there can be found a manifest cause from which the resistance can be derived which is felt if we try to make a vacuum, it seems to me foolish to try to attribute to vacuum those operations which follow evidently from some other cause; and so by making some very easy calculations, I found that the cause assigned by me (that is, the weight of the atmosphere) ought by itself alone to offer a greater resistance than it does when we try to produce a vacuum."
1742, Benjamin Franklin invented the Franklin stove. The wood fuel burns on an iron surface over a cold air duct which heats air which then passes through baffles in the back wall. The heated air is released through vents on each side of the stove. Rather than patent it, he chose to write about it in a book so that others could freely copy his design. As he wrote, "That as we enjoy great Advantages from the Inventions of others, we should be glad of an Opportunity to serve others by any Invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously."*TIS

1929 Walt Disney files a trademark application for the image of Mickey Mouse with the United States Patent Office.

1955 France issued a postage stamp with a portrait of ).
Pierre Simon de Laplace (1749–1827)

1656 Charles René Reyneau was a French mathematician who published an influential textbook on the newly invented calculus.*SAU (He) "undertook to reduce into one body, for the use of his scholars, the principal theories scattered here and there in Newton, Descartes, Leibnitz, Bernoulli, the Leipsic Acts, the Memoirs of the Paris Academy, and in other works; treasures which by being so widely dispersed, proved much less useful than they otherwise might have been. The fruit of this undertaking, was his “Analyse Demontree,” or Analysis Demonstrated, which he published in 1708, 2 vols. 4to. He gave it the name of “Analysis Demonstrated,” because he demonstrates in it several methods which had not been handled by the authors of them, with sufficient perspicuity and exactness. The book was so well approved, that it soon became a maxim, at least in France, that to follow him was the best, if not the only way, to make any extraordinary progress in the mathematics and he was considered as the first master, as the Euclid of the sublime geometry." (From the 1812 Chalmer's Biography, vol. 26, p. 151)

1723  Johann Georg Palitzsch was born.  As a German farmer and amateur astronomer from the village of Prohlis near Dresden, he would observe a comet on Christmas day in 1758 and confirm one of the most significant scientific theories in history.  See the full story of his Christmas/birthday observation from Thony Christie. 
1862 Lothar Heffter. At the age of 99 he published the second edition of his Begr¨undung der Funktionentheorie. *VFR He did research in the theory of linear differential equations , the complex analysis and analytic geometry and worked on the four-color problem. Lazarus Fuchs was his teacher. His main concern was the popularization of mathematics.

1886 David Barnard Steinman Designer of the BIG MAC Bridge between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan (above). American engineer whose studies of airflow and wind velocity helped make possible the design of aerodynamically stable bridges. Steinman's thesis for his Ph.D. from Colombia University (1911) was published as "The Design of the Henry Hudson Memorial Bridge as a Steel Arch, and more than 20 years later he built the bridge he had planned over the Harlem River. Steinman designed more than 400 bridges, for instance Sidney Harbor Bridge in Australia, Mackinac Straits Bridge, Carquinez Strait Bridge, San Francisco (1937), Saint Johns Bridge, Portland, Ore, Deer Isle Bridge, Maine, Mount Hope Bridge, Rhode Island. *TIS

1910 Jacques-Yves Cousteau French naval officer, oceanographer, marine biologist and ocean explorer, known for his extensive underseas investigations. He was co-inventor of the aqualung which made SCUBA diving possible (1943). Cousteau the developed the Conshelf series of manned habitats, the Diving Saucer, a process of underwater television and numerous other platforms and specialized instruments of ocean science. In 1945 he founded the French Navy's Undersea Research Group. He modified a WWII wooden hull minesweeper into the research vesselCalypso, in 1950. An observation dome added to the foot of Calypso's bow was found to increase the ship's stability, speed and fuel efficiency. *TIS For whom my oldest son is named.

1937 David Bryant Mumford born in Worth, Sussex, England. In 1974 he won a Fields Medal for his work on “problems of the existence and structure of varieties of moduli, varieties whose points parameterize isomorhphism clases of some type of geometric object.” *VFR In the 1980s he turned to applied mathematics with the question "Is there a mathematical approach to understanding thought and the brain?" This is part of "Pattern Theory," as introduced by Ulf Grenander in the 70's to give a theoretical setting for a large number of related ideas, techniques and results from fields such as computer vision, speech recognition, image and acoustic signal processing, pattern recognition and its statistical side, neural nets and parts of artificial intelligence. *TIS

1292 Roger Bacon English scholar who was one of the first to propose mathematics and experimentation as appropriate methods of science. He studied mathematics, astronomy, optics, alchemy, and languages. He elucidated the principles of refraction, reflection, and spherical aberration, and described spectacles, which soon thereafter came into use. He developed many mathematical results concerning lenses, proposed mechanically propelled ships, carriages, and flying machines, and used a camera obscura to observe eclipses of the Sun. Bacon was the first European give a detailed description of the process of making gunpowder.*TIS

1895 Daniel Kirkwood American mathematician and astronomer who noted in about 1860 that there were several zones of low density in the minor-planet population. These gaps in the distribution of asteroid distances from the Sun are now known as Kirkwood gaps. He explained the gaps as resulting from perturbations by Jupiter. An object that revolved in one of the gaps would be disturbed regularly by the planet's gravitational pull and eventually would be moved to another orbit. Thus gaps appeared in the distribution of asteroids where the orbital period of any small body present would be a simple fraction of that of Jupiter. Kirwood showed that a similar effect accounted for gaps in Saturns rings.*TIS

1931 Franklin H(enry) Giddings American sociologist, one of the first in the United States to turn sociology from a branch of philosophy into a research science dependent on statistics. He was noted for his doctrine of the "consciousness of kind," which he derived from Adam Smith's conception of "sympathy," or shared moral reactions. His explanation of social phenomena was based this doctrine - his theory that each person has an innate sense of belonging to particular social groups. He encouraged statistical studies in sociology. *TIS

1934 Friedrich Wilhelm Franz Meyer studied algebraic geometry, algebraic curves and invariant theory. *SAU

*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*TIS= Today in Science History
*Wik = Wikipedia
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History

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