Sunday, 26 May 2013

On This Day in Math - May 26

You cannot feed the hungry on statistics. 
~Heinrich Heine

The 146th day of the year; 146 is 222 in base eight. *What's So Special About This Number

1676 Antonie van Leeuwenhoek applied his hobby of making microscopes from his own handmade lenses to observe some water running off a roof during a heavy rainstorm. He finds that it contains, in his words, "very little animalcules." The life he has found in the runoff water is not present in pure rainwater. This was a fundamental discovery, for it showed that the bacteria and one-celled animals did not fall from the sky. When a ball of molten glass is inflated like a balloon, a small droplet of the hot fluid collects at the very bottom the bubble. Leeuwenhoek used these droplets as microscope lenses to view the animalcules. Despite their crude nature, those early lenses enabled Leeuwenhoek to describe an amazing world of microscopic life. * TIS Compound microscopes (that is, microscopes using more than one lens) had been invented around 1595, nearly forty years before Leeuwenhoek was born. Several of Leeuwenhoek's predecessors and contemporaries, notably Robert Hooke in England and Jan Swammerdam in the Netherlands, had built compound microscopes and were making important discoveries with them. These were much more similar to the microscopes in use today. Thus, although Leeuwenhoek is sometimes called "the inventor of the microscope," he was no such thing.

1796 Gauss writes to his counselor, Zimmerman, who had apparently encouraged Gauss to publish the results of his studies on construction of the 17-gon, and the quadratic reciprocity law. Guass wrote that he was prepared to undertake the project, but preferred to write it in German before doing so in Latin where he feared he would be subject to criticism "from another side."
"Since I have an Euler and a Lagrange as predecessors I shall have to marshall great diligence for the composition itself."
*Uta Merzbach, An Early Version of Guass' Disquisitiones Arithmeticae, Mathematical Perspectives, 1981

1896 The Dow Jones Industrial Average was created by Charles Dow and Edward Jones, New York financial reporters.  Originally consisted of 11 stocks.  They published The Customers Appreciation Letter, which would become the Wall Street Journal.  The first index published was on July 3, 1884 *Kane, Famous First Facts 

1901 Giuseppe Peano terminated his services to the Royal Military Academy in Turin where he had taught for fifteen years. The trouble was with his teaching. Earlier he was a very good teacher and the author of several excellent texts, but as his work in mathematical logic matured he devoted too much time to what the students called “the symbols.” [H. C. Kennedy, Peano,p. 100] *VFR

1667 Abraham De Moivre (26 May 1667 in Vitry-le-François, Champagne, France – 27 November 1754 in London, England) French mathematician who was a pioneer in the development of analytic trigonometry and in the theory of probability. He published The Doctrine of Chance in 1718. The definition of statistical independence appears in this book together with many problems with dice and other games. He also investigated mortality statistics and the foundation of the theory of annuities. He died in poverty, and correctly predicted the day of his own death. He found that he was sleeping 15 minutes longer each night and from this the arithmetic progression, calculated that he would die on the day that he slept for 24 hours. *TIS
Born in Vitry-le-Fran¸cois, France. Being a Protestant, he emigrated to England following the Edict of Nantes in 1685 where he eked out a living as a tutor of mathe­matics. He became thoroughly Anglicized and pronounced his name “Mowve-re.” *VFR
In Miscellanea Analytica (1730) appears Stirling's formula (wrongly attributed to Stirling) which de Moivre used in 1733 to derive the normal curve as an approximation to the binomial. In the second edition of the book in 1738 de Moivre gives credit to Stirling for an improvement to the formula. De Moivre is also remembered for his formula for (cos x + i sin x)n which took trigonometry into analysis.

1750 William Morgan, FRS (26 May 1750– 4 May 1833) was a Welsh physician, physicist and statistician, who is considered the father of modern actuarial science. *Wik

1826 Richard Christopher Carrington (26 May 1826 – 27 November 1875) English astronomer who was the first to map the motions of sunspots and thus discover from them that the Sun rotates faster at the equator than near the poles (equatorial acceleration). He observed that the sunspots were not attached to any solid object, and also discovered the movement of sunspot zones toward the Sun's equator as the solar cycle progresses. On 1 Sep 1859, Carrington was the first to record the observation of a solar flare. *TIS

1837 Washington Augustus Roebling  (May 26, 1837 – July 21, 1926) U.S. civil engineer under whose direction the Brooklyn Bridge, New York City, was completed in 1883. The bridge was designed by Roebling with his father, John Augustus Roebling, from whom he had gained experience building wire-rope suspension bridges. Upon his father's death, he superintended the building of the Brooklyn Bridge (1869-83). He was disabled by decompression sickness after entering a caisson in 1872. He was brought out nearly insensible and his life was saved with difficulty. Because of resulting poor health, he directed operations from his home in Brooklyn overlooking the site. Though he continued to head the family's wire-rope manufacturing business for several years, medical problems forced retirement (1888).*TIS

1899 Otto Neugebauer (May 26, 1899 – February 19, 1990)  historian of ancient and medieval mathematics and astronomy. *VFR
  He was an Austrian-American mathematician and historian of science who became known for his research on the history of astronomy and the other exact sciences in antiquity and into the Middle Ages. By studying clay tablets he discovered that the ancient Babylonians knew much more about mathematics and astronomy than had been previously realized. The National Academy of Sciences has called Neugebauer "the most original and productive scholar of the history of the exact sciences, perhaps of the history of science, of our age." *Wik


 735 Bede  ( 672/673 – 26 May 735),(often know as the Venerable Bede) Anglo-Saxon theologian, historian and scholar whose writings established the use of BC and AD with dates. He applied a knowledge of astronomy for the purpose of calculating the correct date for Easter. He found that due to an imperfection in Sosigenes' Julian calendar, that the vernal equinox had slipped to a point three days before the traditional date of 21 Mar. However, no action was taken to make the necessary adjustment in the number of leap years per millenium until nine centuries later. Bede held that the earth was a sphere. He preserved Pytheas' suggestion relating tides to the phases of the moon, and followed Seleucus' idea that a high tide is a local effect and does not occur everywhere at the same point in time. *TIS
Bede was first buried at the monastery of St. Paul at Jarrow in 735. However, in about 1022, his bones were brought to Durham where they were placed with those of St. Cuthbert in the Choir. In 1370, Bede's remains were moved to a splendid shrine in the Galilee Chapel. This shrine was destroyed during the Reformation in 1540 and Bede's bones were then buried in a grave where the shrine had stood.
Eventually, in 1831, the present tomb, made from polished Carboniferous limestone, was erected over Bede's grave. It has the following simple inscription cut into its surface:
Translated from the Latin, this means 'In this tomb are the bones of the Venerable Bede' *Religion Facts

1926 Frank Nelson Cole (September 20, 1861 – May 26, 1926) At the time of his death he was a professor of mathematics at Columbia, but was living in a boarding house, under an assumed name, claiming to be a bookkeeper. The AMS Cole prize in algebra is named after him.*VFR 
His main research contributions are to number theory, in particular to prime numbers, and to group theory. In number theory he achieved the distinction of being the first to factor 267 - 1 and he did this using quadratic remainders. In fact
267 - 1 = 147573952589676412927 = 761838257287 × 193707721
which a computer will compute in a few seconds today. His contributions to factoring large numbers was published in 1903. His output of research papers was, however, fairly modest and he published only around 25 papers during his career. These publications include his doctoral dissertation in 1886 and a discussion of the icosahedron in 1887. He published The linear functions of a complex variable in the Annals of Mathematics in 1890 then, between the years 1891 to 1893, he found the complete list of simple groups with orders between 200 and 600. Another publication worth mentioning is The triad systems of thirteen letters which he published in the Transactions of the American Mathematical Society in 1913.*Wik According to a notice in the American Mathematical Monthly, which he had edited for twenty-five  years, he died of a heart attack brought on by an infected tooth.

2003 Gerald Stanley Hawkins ( April 28, 1928 Gt. Yarmouth, Norfolkshire, U.K.  - May 26, 2003) was a British-born American radio-astronomer who used a computer to show that the stones and other archaeological features at Stonehenge formed a pattern of alignments with 12 major lunar and solar events, suggesting that it was used as a sort of neolithic observatory or astronomical calendar. In the 18th century, William Stukely had noticed that the horseshoe of trilithons and 19 bluestones opened up in the direction of the midsummer sunrise. In the 1960s, Hawkins, a British-born radio astronomer, identified 165 key points in the neolithic complex and found that many were strongly correlated with the rising and setting positions of the sun and moon over an 18.6-year cycle. In the 1990s, he studied the geometry of crop circles.  He retired to a Virginia farm in Rappahannock County with his second wife, Julia Dobson, and died there, suddenly, on May 26, 2003.

Credits :
*CHM=Computer History Museum
*FFF=Kane, Famous First Facts
*NSEC= NASA Solar Eclipse Calendar
*RMAT= The Renaissance Mathematicus, Thony Christie
*SAU=St Andrews Univ. Math History
*TIA = Today in Astronomy
*TIS= Today in Science History
*VFR = V Frederick Rickey, USMA
*Wik = Wikipedia
*WM = Women of Mathematics, Grinstein & Campbell

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