Wednesday 3 August 2011

On This Day in Math - Aug 3

There are surely worse things than being wrong,
and being dull and pedantic are surely among them.
Mark Kac

The 215th day of the year;   There are 215 sequences of four (not necessarily distinct)integers, counting permutations of order as distinct, such that the sum of their reciprocals is 1.  Obviously, one of them is 1/4+1/4+1/4+1/4=1.  How many can you find?

In 1596 David Fabricus (also spelled Fabricius) of Germany discovered that the star Mira varied in brightness. In 1638 Johann Holwarda of Germany determined its period, and Mira became the first periodic variable star discovered. However, a few stars of variable brightness were discovered earlier by Chinese and Korean astronomers, who mistakenly identified them as novae.*Access Science
A nice piece on Fabricius life and unusual death are at the Renaissance Mathematicus.

1747 Diderot and d’Alembert replace de Gua, who had earlier done much to systematize analytic geometry, as director of the publishing project which was to become the celebrated Encyclop´edie*VFR

1750 The first (U.S.) teaching methods book was completed by Christopher Dock. It was originally written in German and was printed twenty years later in Germantown, Pennsylvania. The pref­ace was dated March 27, 1770. The full title was: “Schul-ordnung; or A Simple and Thoroughly Prepared School-Management clearly setting forth not only in what manner children may best be taught the branches usually given at school, but also how they may be well instructed in the knowledge of godliness.” *VFR

In 1903, Thomas Edison's opinion of radium was quoted within an article in the New York World newspaper. "I have had several pieces of it from Mme. Curie in Paris, and I have experimented with it. I do not see its commercial utility, but it opens up a great field of thought and scientific research. It overturns all the old theories of force and energy... I have a peculiar theory about radium, and I believe it is the correct one. I believe that there is some mysterious ray pervading the universe that is fluorescing to it. In other words, that all its energy is not self-constructed but that there is a mysterious something in the atmosphere that scientists have not found that is drawing out those infinitesimal atoms and distributing them forcefully and indestructibly."

1953 In honor of the 7th International Congress of History of Science, which was held in Jerusalem, August 4-11, 1953, Israel issued a stamp picturing Maimonides, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (1135-1204), a Jewish philosopher especially interested in the work of Aristotle. [Scott #74]. *VFR

1958 The First ship to reach the North Pole was the submarine Nautilus, which reached 90 degrees North enroute from Hawaii to the Atlantic Ocean.*VFR In 1958, the USS Nautilus (SSN571), became the first submarine to travel under the geographic North Pole when the ice-pack conditions were favorable. This was the first atomic-powered submarine in the U.S. Navy. Attempts earlier in the year failed due to the ice-pack conditions. The crew created a post office while under the North Pole and canceled their letters with a home-made North Pole Stamp. (The Post Master General later declared it to be a legal post office.) Santa Claus boarded through one of the forward torpedo tubes and complained about the effect on his lawn. *TIS

1977 Radio Shack announces TRS-80 computer... This was the first computer I ever owned, and my son and I learned to program together on one.(He has gone on to be quite a capable programer0
Radio Shack announces its TRS-80 Model I, the company's first personal computer. Equipped with 4KB of RAM, cassette-tape storage, and a built-in BASIC interpreter, the TRS-80 was one of the first mass-marketed personal computer (along with the Commodore PET and Apple II). At a time when most microcomputers came in kit form and appealed to hobbyists, these three computers addressed the average person and were very popular in schools Radio Shack sold more than 200,000 TRS-80 computers.*chm


1805 William Rowan Hamilton born. The date on his tombstone is 4 August 1805, the confusion being due to the fact that he was born at midnight.*VFR 
Sir William Rowan Hamilton (4 August 1805 – 2 September 1865) was an Irish physicist, astronomer, and mathematician, who made important contributions to classical mechanics, optics, and algebra. His studies of mechanical and optical systems led him to discover new mathematical concepts and techniques. His greatest contribution is perhaps the reformulation of Newtonian mechanics, now called Hamiltonian mechanics. This work has proven central to the modern study of classical field theories such as electromagnetism, and to the development of quantum mechanics. In mathematics, he is perhaps best known as the inventor of quaternions. Hamilton is said to have shown immense talent at a very early age, prompting astronomer Bishop Dr. John Brinkley to remark in 1823 of Hamilton at the age of 18: “This young man, I do not say will be, but is, the first mathematician of his age.”
William Rowan Hamilton's scientific career included the study of geometrical optics, classical mechanics, adaptation of dynamic methods in optical systems, applying quaternion and vector methods to problems in mechanics and in geometry, development of theories of conjugate algebraic couple functions (in which complex numbers are constructed as ordered pairs of real numbers), solvability of polynomial equations and general quintic polynomial solvable by radicals, the analysis on Fluctuating Functions (and the ideas from Fourier analysis), linear operators on quaternions and proving a result for linear operators on the space of quaternions (which is a special case of the general theorem which today is known as the Cayley–Hamilton theorem). Hamilton also invented "Icosian Calculus", which he used to investigate closed edge paths on a dodecahedron that visit each vertex exactly once. *Wik

1811 Elisha Otis American inventor of the automatic safety brake for elevators, which later made high-rise buildings practical. Before this invention, elevators of his time were extremely dangerous. In 1852, he was employed at a New York bed factory. He realized the need for a "safety elevator" to move people and equipment safely to the upper floors of the building. He strikingly demonstrated his solution at the Crystal Palace Exposition in New York in 1854. In front of a large crowd, Otis ascended in his new elevator. He called for the elevator's cable to be cut with an axe, but the elevator platform did not fall. The brake he invented used toothed guiderails in the elevator shaft and a spring-loaded bar that automatically caught in the toothed rail if the elevator car if the cable failed. *TIS

1835 Artemas Martin was a self-taught mathematician and book-collector whose output covered a wide range of mathematical problems. *SAU

1851 George Francis FitzGerald Irish physicist whose suggestion of a way to produce waves helped lay a foundation for wireless telegraphy. He also first developed a theory, independently discovered by Hendrik Lorentz, that a material object moving through an electromagnetic field would exhibit a contraction of its length in the direction of motion. This is now known as the Lorentz-FitzGerald contraction, which Einstein used in his own special theory of relativity. He also was first to propose the structure of comets as a head made of large stones, but a tail make of such smaller stones (less than 1-cm diam.) that the pressure of light radiation from the sun could deflect them. FitzGerald also studied electrolysis as well as electromagnetic radiation.*TIS

1914 Mark Kac (pronounced kahts, Polish: Marek Kac, b. 3 August 1914, Krzemieniec, Russian Empire, now in Ukraine; d. 26 October 1984, California, USA) was a Polish mathematician.[1] His main interest was probability theory. His question, "Can you hear the shape of a drum?" set off research into spectral theory, with the idea of understanding the extent to which the spectrum allows one to read back the geometry. (In the end, the answer was "no", in general.)*Wik

1926 Maurice Auslander (August 3, 1926 – November 18, 1994) was an American mathematician who worked on commutative algebra and homological algebra. He proved the Auslander–Buchsbaum theorem that regular local rings are factorial, the Auslander–Buchsbaum formula, and introduced Auslander–Reiten theory and Auslander algebras.*Wik

1914 Louis Couturat (17 Jan 1868 in Ris-Orangis (near Paris), France - 3 Aug 1914 in Between Ris-Orangis and Melun, France), a logician whose historical researches led to the publication of Leibniz’s logical works in 1903.*VFR Couturat was killed in a car accident, his car being in hit by the car carrying the orders for mobilization of the French army the day World War I broke out. Ironically he was a noted pacifist. *SAU

1917 Georg Frobenius German mathematician who made major contributions to group theory, especially the concept of abstract groups (with Ludwig Stickleberger) and the theory of finite groups of linear substitutions (with Issai Schur), that later found important uses in the theory of finite groups as it applies to quantum mechanics. He also contributed to means of solving linear homogenous differential equations. The fact so many of Frobenius's papers read like present day text-books on the topics which he studied is a clear indication of the importance that his work, in many different areas, has had in shaping the mathematics which is studied today.*TIS

1922 Mathias Lerch​ (Matyáš Lerch, (20 February 1860, Milínov - 3 August 1922, Schüttenhofen) was an eminent Czech mathematician who published about 250 papers, largely on mathematical analysis and number theory. He studied in Prague and Berlin, and held teaching positions at the Czech Technical Institute in Prague, the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, the Czech Technical Institute in Brno, and Masaryk University in Brno; he was the first mathematics professor at Masaryk University when it was founded in 1920. In 1900, he was awarded the Grand Prize of the French Academy of Sciences for his number-theoretic work. The Lerch zeta-function is named after him as is the Appell–Lerch sum.*Wik

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

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