Monday 26 December 2011

On This Day in Math - Dec 26

A young man passes from our public schools to the universities, ignorant almost of the elements of every branch of useful knowledge.
~Charles Babbage

1837 Charles Babbage completed his “Calculating Engine” manuscript. *VFR

1898 Radium discovered by Pierre and Marie Curie. *VFR Actually, it seems this was the date of their announcement of the discovery(which must have occurred a few days earlier. They created the name radium for their element. This was their second discovery in the first year of her research on her thesis. They had also discovered Polonium earlier in the year.
 In 1906, the world's first full-length feature film, the 70-min Story of the Kelly Gang was presented in the Town Hall at Melbourne, Australia, where it had been filmed at a cost of £450. It preceded D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation by nine years. The subject of the Australian movie was Ned Kelly, a bandit who lived 1855 to 1880. The film toured through Australia for over 20 years, and abroad in New Zealand and Britain. Since some people, including politicians and police viewed the content of the film as glorifying the criminals, the movie was banned (1907) in Benalla and Wangaratta and also in Victoria (1912). Only fragments totalling about 10 minutes of the original nitrate film have survived to the present.*TIS

1951 Kurt Godel delivered the Gibbs Lecture, “Some Basic Theorems on the Foundations of Mathe-matics and their Philosophical Implications,” to the annual AMS meeting at Brown University. *VFR

1982 TIME Names a Non-Human “Man of the Year”
TIME magazine's editors selected the Personal Computer for “Machine of the Year,” in lieu of their well-known “Man of the Year” award. The computer beat out U.S. President Ronald Reagan, U.K. prime minister Margaret Thatcher and Prime Minister of Israel​, Menachem Begin. The planet Earth became the second non-human recipient for the award in 1988. The awards have been given since 1927. The magazine's essay reported that in 1982, 80% of Americans expected that "in the fairly near future, home computers will be as commonplace as television sets or dishwashers.” In 1980, 724,000 personal computers were sold in the United States, according to Time. The following year, that number doubled to 1.4 million. *CHM


1532 Wilhelm Xylander (born Wilhelm Holtzman, graecized to Xylander) (December 26, 1532 – February 10, 1576) was a German classical scholar and humanist.
Xylander was the author of a number of important works. He translated the first six books of Euclid into German with notes, the Arithmetica of Diophantus, and the De quattuor mathematicis scientiis of Michael Psellus into Latin. *Wik
1780 Mary Fairfax Greig Somerville (26 Dec 1780 in Jedburgh, Roxburghshire, Scotland - 29 Nov 1872 in Naples, Italy) Somerville wrote many works which influenced Maxwell. Her discussion of a hypothetical planet perturbing Uranus led Adams to his investigation. Somerville College in Oxford was named after her.*SAU

1791 Charles Babbage born. *VFR (26 Dec 1791; 18 Oct 1871) English mathematician and pioneer of mechanical computation, which he pursued to eliminate inaccuracies in mathematical tables. By 1822, he had a small calculating machine able to compute squares. He produced prototypes of portions of a larger Difference Engine. (Georg and Edvard Schuetz later constructed the first working devices to the same design which were successful in limited applications.) In 1833 he began his programmable Analytical Machine, a forerunner of modern computers. His other inventions include the cowcatcher, dynamometer, standard railroad gauge, uniform postal rates, occulting lights for lighthouses, Greenwich time signals, heliograph opthalmoscope. He also had an interest in cyphers and lock-picking.*TIS

1861 Frederick Engle born in Germany. He became the closest student of the Norwegian mathe¬matician Sophus Lie. Engle was also the first to translate Lobachevsky’s work into a Western language (German). *VFR

1900 Antoni Zygmund (26 Dec 1900; 30 May 1992) Polish-born mathematician who created a major analysis research centre at Chicago, and recognized in 1986 for this with the National Medal for Science. In 1940, he escaped with his wife and son from German controlled Poland to the USA. He did much work in harmonic analysis, a statistical method for determining the amplitude and period of certain harmonic or wave components in a set of data with the aid of Fourier series. Such technique can be applied in various fields of science and technology, including natural phenomena such as sea tides. He also did major work in Fourier analysis and its application to partial differential equations. Zygmund's book Trigonometric Series (1935) is a classic, definitive work on the subject*TIS

1903 Lancelot Stephen Bosanquet (26 Dec 1903 in St. Stephen's-by-Saltash, Cornwall, England - 10 Jan 1984 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England) Bosanquet wrote many papers on the convergence and summability of Fourier series. He also wrote on the convergence and summability of Dirichlet series and studied specific kinds of summability such as summability factors for Cesàro means. His later work on integrals include two major papers on the Laplace-Stieltjes integral published in 1953 and 1961. Other topics he studied included inequalities, mean-value theorems, Tauberian theorems, and convexity theorems. *SAU

1937 John Horton Conway (born 26 December 1937, ) is a prolific mathematician active in the theory of finite groups, knot theory, number theory, combinatorial game theory and coding theory. He has also contributed to many branches of recreational mathematics, notably the invention of the cellular automaton called the Game of Life.
Conway is currently Professor of Mathematics and John Von Neumann Professor in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton University. He studied at Cambridge, where he started research under Harold Davenport. He received the Berwick Prize (1971),[1] was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (1981),[2] was the first recipient of the Pólya Prize (LMS) (1987),[1] won the Nemmers Prize in Mathematics (1998) and received the Leroy P. Steele Prize for Mathematical Exposition (2000) of the American Mathematical Society. He has an Erdős number of one.*Wik Conway is known for his sense of humor, and the last proof in his "On Numbers and Games" is this:
Theorem 100; This is the last Theorem in this book.
The Proof is Obvious.

1624 Simon Marius (10 Jan 1573, 26 Dec 1624) (Also known as Simon Mayr) German astronomer, pupil of Tycho Brahe, one of the earliest users of the telescope and the first in print to make mention the Andromeda nebula (1612). He studied and named the four largest moons of Jupiter as then known: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto (1609) after mythological figures closely involved in love with Jupiter. Although he may have made his discovery independently of Galileo, when Marius claimed to have discovered these satellites of Jupiter (1609), in a dispute over priority, it was Galileo who was credited by other astronomers. However, Marius was the first to prepare tables of the mean periodic motions of these moons. He also observed sunspots in 1611 *TIS You can find a nice blog about the conflict with Galileo by the Renaissance Mathematicus.

1931 Melvil Dewey (10 Dec 1851, 26 Dec 1931) American librarian who developed library science in the U.S., especially with his system of classification, the Dewey Decimal Classification (1876), for library cataloging. His system of classification (1876) uses numbers from 000 to 999 to cover the general fields of knowledge and designating more specific subjects by the use of decimal points. He was an activist in the spelling reform and metric system movements. Dewey invented the vertical office file, winning a gold medal at the 1893 World's Fair. It was essentially an enlarged version of a card catalogue, where paper documents hung vertically in long drawers. *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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