Thursday 13 October 2011

On This Day in Math - Oct 13

No matter how correct a mathematical theorem may appear to be, one ought never to be satisfied that there was not something imperfect about it until it also gives the impression of being beautiful.
~George Boole

The 286th day of the year; 286 is a tetrahedral number (triangular pyramid, note that 285 was a square pyramidal number, how often can they occur in sequence?) IT is the sum of the first eleven triangular numbers, 286 = 1 + 3 + 6 + 10 + 15 + 21 + 28 + 36 + 45 + 55 + 66

2128 B.C. In China the earliest record of solar eclipse was made.*VFR (This date seems to have been computed back by a Buddhist astronomer,I-Hang in about 720 AD based on the year of the Dynasty for which it was recorded.)

1597 Kepler replied to Galileo’s letter of 4 August 1597 urging him to be bold and proceed openly in his advocacy of Copernicanism. [Eves, Circles, 159◦] *VFR

1729 Euler mentioned the gamma function in a letter to Goldbach. In 1826 Legendre gave the function its symbol and name. [Cajori, History of Mathematical Notations, vol. 2, p. 271] (the Oct 13 date is for the Julian Calendar still used in Russia when Euler wrote from there. It was the 24th in most of the rest of the world using the Gregorian Calendar.)

1884 An international conference in Washington D. C. decided “to adopt the meridian passing through the center of the transit instrument at the Observatory of Greenwich as the initial meridian for longitude.” Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT, was born.

In 1985, at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, the first observation was made of proton-antiproton collisions by the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF) with 1.6 TeV center-of-mass energy. In all, 23 of collisions were detected in Oct 1985. The Tevatron, four miles in circumference (originally named the Energy Doubler), is the world's highest-energy particle accelerator. Its low-temperature cooling system was the largest ever built when it was placed in operation in 1983. Its 1,000 superconducting magnets are cooled by liquid helium to -268 deg C (-450 deg F). Fermilab (originally named the National Accelerator Laboratory) was commissioned by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, in a bill signed by President Johnson on 21 Nov 1967. *TIS

1776 Peter Barlow (13 Oct 1776; 1 Mar 1862) English mathematician and engineer who invented two varieties of achromatic (non-colour-distorting) telescope lenses. In 1819, Barlow began work on the problem of deviation in ship compasses caused by the presence of iron in the hull. For his method of correcting the deviation by juxtaposing the compass with a suitably shaped piece of iron, he was awarded the Copley Medal. In 1822, he built a device which is to be considered one of the first models of an electric motor supplied by continuous current. He also worked on the design of bridges, in particular working (1819-26) with Thomas Telford on the design of the bridge over the Menai Strait, the first major modern suspension bridge. Barlow was active during the period of railway building in Britain.*TIS

1890 Georg Feigel born in Homburg, Germany. At the University of Berlin he developed an intro¬ductory course, Einf¨uhrung in die H¨ohere Mathematik (published, posthumeously, 1953) which was responsible for introducing the new fundamental concepts of mathematics based on axioms and structures into the universities. *VFR

1893 Kurt Werner Friedrich Reidemeister (13 Oct 1893, 8 July 1971) Reidemeister was a pioneer of knot theory and his work had a great influence on Group Theory. Reidemeister's other interests included the philosophy and the foundations of mathematics. He also wrote about poets and was a poet himself. He translated Mallarmé. *SAU

1915 Arthur Burks​, a principal designer of the ENIAC, was born. Burks -- who was born in Duluth, Minn., and educated at DePauw University and the University of Michigan -- did extensive work on the ENIAC, the machine designed at the University of Pennsylvania​’s Moore School and completed in 1946. After working with J. Presper Eckert​ and John Mauchly on the ENIAC, Burks moved on to Princeton University, where he helped John von Neumann develop his computer at the Institute for Advanced Studies.*CHM

1932 John Griggs Thompson (13 Oct 1932, )American mathematician who was awarded the Fields Medal in 1970 for his work in group theory, solving (with Walter Feit) one of its thorniest problems, the so-called "odd order" problem. (Group theory is a branch of mathematics that focuses on the study of symmetries - such as the symmetries of a geometric figure, or symmetries that arise in solutions to algebraic equations.) Thompson's proof, with 253 pages of equations, filled an entire issue of the Pacific Journal of Mathematics. It stands out as one of math’s longest and most complex. Thompson also collaborated on the classification of the finite simple groups, the building blocks of more general groups. Group theory has important applications in physics, chemistry and other fields.*TIS

1715 Nicolas Malebranche was a major French philosopher and follower of Descartes whose ideas he developed to bring them more in line with standard Roman Catholic orthodox belief.*SAU

1793 William Hopkins FRS (2 February 1793 – 13 October 1866) was an English mathematician and geologist. He is famous as a private tutor of aspiring undergraduate Cambridge mathematicians, earning him the sobriquet the senior-wrangler maker.
Before graduation, Hopkins had married Caroline Frances Boys (1799–1881) and was, therefore, ineligible for a fellowship. He instead maintained himself as a private tutor, coaching the young mathematicians who sought the prestigious distinction of Senior Wrangler. He was enormously successful in the role, earning the sobriquet senior wrangler maker and grossing £700-800 annually. By 1849, he had coached almost 200 wranglers, of whom 17 were senior wranglers including Arthur Cayley and G. G. Stokes. Among his more famous pupils were Lord Kelvin, James Clerk Maxwell and Isaac Todhunter.
He also made important contributions in asserting a solid, rather than fluid, interior for the Earth and explaining many geological phenomena in terms of his model. However, though his conclusions proved to be correct, his mathematical and physical reasoning were subsequently seen as unsound.In 1833, Hopkins published Elements of Trigonometry and became distinguished for his mathematical knowledge.
There was a famous story that the theory of George Green (1793–1841) was almost forgotten. In 1845, Lord Kelvin (William Thomson, a young man in 1845) got some copies of Green's 1828 short book from William Hopkins. Subsequently, Lord Kelvin helped to make Green's 1828 work famous according to the book "George Green" written by D.M. Cannell. *Wik
1913 Gyula Vályi (5 January 1855 - 13 October 1913) was a Hungarian mathematician and theoretical physicist, a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, known for his work on mathematical analysis, geometry, and number theory.*Wik

1987 Walter H. Brattain (10 Feb 1902, 13 Oct 1987) Walter Houser Brattain was an American scientist born in China who, with John Bardeen and William B. Shockley, won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1956 for investigating semiconductors (materials of which transistors are made) and for the development of the transistor. At college, he said, he majored in physics and math because they were the only subjects he was good at. He became a solid physicist with a good understanding of theory, but his strength was in physically constructing experiments. Working with the ideas of Shockley and Bardeen, Brattain's hands built the first transistor. Shortly, the transistor replaced the bulkier vacuum tube for many uses and was the forerunner of microminiature electronic parts.*TIS

1990 Hans Freudenthal, Professor Emeritus at Utrecht University, died, age 85. *VFR  Hans Freudenthal (September 17, 1905, Luckenwalde, Brandenburg – October 13, 1990) was a Dutch mathematician. He made substantial contributions to algebraic topology and also took an interest in literature, philosophy, history and mathematics education. *Wik

2001 Olga Arsenevna Oleinik (2 July 1925, 13 Oct 2001) Oleinik wrote over 370 published papers and eight books. Her main research was concerned with algebraic geometry, partial differential equations, and mathematical physics. Winner of numerous prizes including the 1952 Chebotarev Prize for her research on elliptic equations with a small parameter in the highest derivative, the 1964 Lomonosov Prize for research on asymptotic properties of the solutions of problems of mathematical physics, and the 1988 State Prize for her series of papers on the investigation of boundary-value problems for differential operators and theirs applications in mathematical physics. In 1985 she was awarded the honorary title of Honored Scientist of the Russian Federation for her achievements in research and teaching, and in 1995 was awarded the Order of Honor by the president of the Russian Federation. She was also the 1996 AWM Noether Lecturer.*Agnes Scott College,

*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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