Saturday 5 November 2011

On This Day in Math - Nov 5

I hope you enjoy the absence of pupils ... the total oblivion of them for definite intervals is a necessary condition for doing them justice at the proper time.
~James Clerk Maxwell (every teacher knows how true this statement is.)

The 309th day of the year; 3095= 2,817,036,000,549. It is the smallest number whose fifth power contains all the digits 0 to 9. (Students, is there a smaller number that contains all the digits for some other power?)

In 1662, Robert Hooke was appointed Curator of Experiments to the Royal Society, London. The position was established as a provision of the Royal Charter given by King Charles II (passed by the Great Seal on 15 July 1662) to incorporate the Royal Society. The Society was the successor of the Society for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematical Experimental Learning formed by at a meeting of a dozen scientist on 28 Nov 1660 at Gresham College. Hooke was required to demonstrate three or four experiments at every meeting of the Society, starting without recompense until 1664 when the Society was in a position to do so. Hooke's genius produced a wealth of original ideas over the following 15 years.*TIS
The Curious Life of Robert Hooke: The Man Who Measured London

1666 Leibniz received his doctor’s degree at age 20 for his essay on a new method (the historical) of teaching law from the University of Altdorf in Nuremberg. He had studied law at his home town University of Leipzig, entering at 15, but left at 20 when he was denied his doctorate, officially on account of his youth. Altdorf offered him a professorship in law, but he declined. [Bell, Men of Mathematics, 122] *VFR

In 1824, the Renssalaer School was founded in Troy, N.Y., by Stephen van Renssalaer becoming the first engineering college in the U.S. It opened on 3 Jan 1825, with the purpose of instructing persons, who may choose to apply themselves, in the application of science to the common purposes of life." The first class of 10 students graduated on 26 Apr 1826. The first director and senior professor was Amos Eaton who served from Nov 1824 - 10 May 1842. The name of Renssalaer Institute was adopted on 26 Apr 1832, and Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute on 8 Apr 1861.*TIS

1828 Augustus DeMorgan, age 22, gave his introductory lecture, “On the study of mathematics,” at London University. It described the position which mathematics held in a person’s education. DeMorgan was the first to hold the university’s chair in mathematics, being chosen from 32 candidates, even though he was by far the youngest. See the chapter on DeMorgan in A History of Mathematics Education in England (1982), by. A. G. Howson [p. 82].*VFR

In 1891, Marie Curie enrolled in the Sorbonne, two days before her 24th birthday. She has been out of school for 5 years, is now in a foreign country (France instead of her homeland of Poland), has barely enough money to survive, and even faints from hunger on at least one occasion in the classroom. Yet she eventually graduated at the top of her class. Then on this same day in 1906, (see below) she delivered her first lecture at the Sorbonne as the first female physics teacher in the school's history.*TIS

In 1906, at 1:30 pm, Marie Curie gave her inaugural lecture as the first woman lecturer at the Sorbonne. She explained the theory of ions in gases and her treatise on radioactivity to120 students, public and press. Following the accidental death of her husband, Pierre Curie, she had been invited to occupy the Physics chair at the Sorbonne that he had held. Madame Curie, by now a Nobel prize winner and authority on radioactivity, continued the work she started with her husband.*TIS

In 1992, the discovery of chemical evidence of 5000-year-old beer found at Godin Tepe in the Zagros mountains of Iran was reported in the journal Nature. Beer was the preferred fermented beverage of the ancient Sumerians. Chemical evidence was found from an organic residue inside a pottery vessel that had apparently been used for beer fermentation or storage. Some grooves were found inside the double-handled jar which contained a pale yellowish residue that gave a positive test for oxalate ion. Calcium oxalate, only slightly water-soluble is a principal component of sediment that settles from barley beer. In 1991, evidence for the earliest grape wine of had been found in the same area, and to be of similar age, about 3500 - 3100 BC. *TIS

1846 Edward Singleton Holden (November 5, 1846 – March 16, 1914) was an American astronomer. Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1846 to Jeremiah and Sarah Holden. From 1862-66, he attended Washington University in St. Louis, where he obtained a B.S. degree. He later trained at West Point in the class of 1870.In 1873 he became professor of mathematics at the US Naval Observatory, where he made a favorable impression on Simon Newcomb. He was director of Washburn Observatory at the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 1881 to 1885. He was elected a member of the American National Academy of Sciences in 1885.
On August 28, 1877, a few days after Asaph Hall discovered the moons of Mars Deimos and Phobos, he claimed to have found a third satellite of Mars. Further analysis showed large mistakes in his observations.
He was president of the University of California from 1885 until 1888, and the first director of the Lick Observatory from 1888 until the end of 1897. Meanhwile in 1893 while at the observatory he published a book on Mughal Emperors, The Mogul emperors of Hindustan, A.D. 1398- A.D. 1707. He resigned as a result of internal dissent over his management among his subordinates. While at the Lick Observatory, he was the founder of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and its first President (1889–1891).
In 1901 he became the librarian of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he remained until his death.
His cousin, George Phillips Bond, was director of Harvard College Observatory.
He discovered a total of 22 NGC objects during his work at Washburn Observatory.
He wrote many books on popular science (and on other subjects, such as flags and heraldry), including science books intended for children. For example the book Real Things In Nature. A Reading Book of Science for American Boys and Girls published in 1916.*Wik
1848 James Whitbread Lee Glaisher (5 November 1848 – 7 December 1928) son of James Glaisher, the meteorologist, was a prolific English mathematician. He was educated at St Paul's School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was second wrangler in 1871. Influential in his time on teaching at the University of Cambridge, he is now remembered mostly for work in number theory that anticipated later interest in the detailed properties of modular forms. He published widely over other fields of mathematics. He was the editor-in-chief of Messenger of Mathematics. *TIS

1866 Alfred Tauber (5 Nov 1866 in Pressburg, now Bratislava, Slovakia , 1942 in Theresienstadt, Germany now Terezin, Czech Republic) Tauber's research was on function theory and potential theory. He obtained important results on divergent series and the name 'Tauberian Theorems' was coined by Hardy and Littlewood. This all came out of his work on Abel's limit theorem which dated back to 1826. The conditions which Tauber gave to allow him to prove the converse of Abel's limit theorem on power series are now known as 'Tauberian conditions' and appeared in Ein Satz aus der Theorie der unendlichen Reihen (1897). This is by far his most significant piece of work. Further major results in this area were obtained by Norbert Wiener. Of lesser importance is Tauber's work on differential equations and the gamma function, but let us give the title of one of his papers on this latter topic, namely über die unvollständigen Gammafunktionen (1906). The date of his death is unknown. He was sent by the Nazis to Theresienstadt concentration camp on June 28 1942. Just after Tauber arrived the entire non-Jewish population of 3,700 of Theresienstadt was evacuated and he was one of 53,000 inhabitants of the camp. *SAU

1906 Fred Lawrence Whipple (5 Nov 1906; 30 Aug 2004) was an American astronomer who proposed the "dirty snowball" model for comet nuclei. In the 1930s, using a new, two-station method of photography, he determined meteor trajectories and found that nearly all visible meteors are made up of fragile material from comets, and that none come from beyond the solar system. Whipple suggested (1950) that comets have icy cores inside thin insulating layers of dirt, and that jets of material ejected as a result of solar heating were the cause of orbital changes. This model was confirmed in 1986 when spacecraft flew past comet Halley. Whipple’s work on tracking artificial satellites led to improved knowledge of the shape of the earth and greatly improved positions on earth. *TIS

1930 John Frank Adams (5 Nov 1930 in Woolwich, London, England - 7 Jan 1989 Near Brampton, Huntingdonshire, England) was an English algebraic topologist who pioneered methods for calculating the homotopy of spheres *SAU

1952 Robert Wayne Thomason (5 Nov 1952 Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA – Nov 1995 Paris, France) was an American mathematician who worked on algebraic K-theory. His results include a proof that all infinite loop space machines are in some sense equivalent, and his work on the Quillen–Lichtenbaum conjecture.*Wik

1526 Scipione del Ferro (6 February 1465 – 5 November 1526) was an Italian mathematician who first discovered a method to solve the depressed cubic equation. There are no surviving scripts from del Ferro. This is in large part due to his resistance to communicating his works. Instead of publishing his ideas, he would only show them to a small, select group of friends and students. It is suspected that this is due to the practice of mathematicians at the time of publicly challenging one another. When a mathematician accepted another's challenge, each mathematician needed to solve the other's problems. The loser in a challenge often lost funding or his university position. Del Ferro was fearful of being challenged and likely kept his greatest work secret so that he could use it to defend himself in the event of a challenge.
Despite this secrecy, he had a notebook where he recorded all his important discoveries. After his death in 1526, this notebook was inherited by his son-in-law Hannival Nave, who was married to del Ferro's daughter, Filippa. Nave was also a mathematician and a former student of del Ferro's, and he replaced del Ferro at the University of Bologna after his death. In 1543, Gerolamo Cardano and Ludovico Ferrari (one of Cardano's students) travelled to Bologna to meet Nave and learn about his late father-in-law's notebook, where the solution to the depressed cubic equation appeared.
Del Ferro also made other important contributions to the rationalization of fractions with denominators containing sums of cube roots.
He also investigated geometry problems with a compass set at a fixed angle, but little is known about his work in this area. *Wik

1800 Jesse Ramsden (6 Oct 1735, 5 Nov 1800) British pioneer in the design of precision tools. At 23, Ramsden chose to apprentice to a maker of mathematical instruments. By age 27 he had his own business in London and was known as the most skilful designer of mathematical, astronomical, surveying and navigationalinstruments in the 18th Century. He is best known for the design of a telescope and microscope eyepiece (ocular) still commonly used today and bearing his name. The French scientist N. Cassegrain proposed a design of a reflecting telescope in 1672. It was Ramsden, however, 100 years later, who found that this design reduces blurring of the image caused by the sphericity of the lenses or mirrors. He also built lathes, barometers, manometers and assay balances.

1879 James Clerk Maxwell (13 Jun 1831, 5 Nov 1879)Scottish physicist and mathematician. Maxwell's researches united electricity and magnetism into the concept of the electro-magnetic field. In London, around 1862, Maxwell calculated that the speed of propagation of an electromagnetic field is approximately that of the speed of light. He proposed that the phenomenon of light is therefore an electromagnetic phenomenon. The four partial differential equations, now known as Maxwell's equations, first appeared in fully developed form in Electricity and Magnetism (1873). He died relatively young; some of the theories he advanced in physics were only conclusively proved long after his death. Maxwell's ideas also paved the way for Einstein's special theory of relativity and the quantum theory. *TIS

1934 Walther Franz Anton von Dyck (6 Dec 1856 in Munich, Germany - 5 Nov 1934 in Munich, Germany) Von Dyck made important contributions to function theory, group theory (where a fundamental result on group presentations is named after him), topology (where he was influenced by the work of Riemann), and to potential theory. He made significant contributions to the Gauss-Bonnet theorem.
Another important project which von Dyck undertook was one to publish the complete works of Kepler, including all Kepler's letters. He undertook this in his role as class secretary of the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften in 1906. This project has extended well beyond von Dyck's lifetime with Volume 7 appearing in 1953, and Volume 8 in 1963. *SAU

1981 Stanisław Mazur (born 1 January 1905, Lviv - 5 November 1981, Warsaw) was a Polish mathematician and a member of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He made important contributions to geometrical methods in linear and nonlinear functional analysis and to the study of Banach algebras. Mazur was also interested in summability theory, infinite games and computable functions.
Mazur was a student of Stefan Banach at University of Lwów. His doctorate, under Banach's supervision, was awarded in 1935.
Mazur was a close collaborator with Banach at Lwów and was a member of the Lwów School of Mathematics, where he participated in the mathematical activities at the Scottish Café. On 6 November 1936, Mazur posed the "basis problem" of determining whether every Banach space has a Schauder basis, with Mazur promising a "live goose" as a reward: Thirty-seven years later, a live goose was awarded by Mazur to Per Enflo in a ceremony that was broadcast throughout Poland.*Wik

1992 Jan Hendrik Oort (28 Apr 1900, 5 Nov 1992) was a Dutch physicist and astronomer, one of the most important figures in 20th-century efforts to understand the nature of the Milky Way Galaxy, who measured the rotation of the earth's galaxy and hypothesized an "Oort Cloud." In 1927 Oort analyzed motions of distant stars, found evidence for differential rotation and founded the mathematical theory of galactic structure. After World War II, he led the Dutch group which used the 21-cm line to map hydrogen gas in the Galaxy. They found the large-scale spiral structure, the galactic center, and gas cloud motions. In 1950 Oort proposed the now generally accepted model for the origin of comets. He continued researching galaxies until shortly before his death at 92. *TIS

*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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