Thursday 13 June 2013

On This Day in Math - June 13

Mathematics is not a careful march
down a well-cleared highway,
but a journey into a strange wilderness,
where the explorers often get lost.
Rigour should be a signal to the historian
that the maps have been made,
and the real explorers have gone elsewhere.
~W.S. Anglin

The 164th day of the year; With the ordered digits of 164 we can form 3 2-digits numbers. Those 3 numbers ± 3 are all prime (16 + 3 = 19, 16 - 3 = 13, 14 + 3 = 17, 14 - 3 = 11, 64 + 3 = 67, 64 - 3 = 61). *Prime Curios

1611 a publication on the newly discovered phenomenon of sunspots was dedicated. Narratio de maculis in sole observatis et apparente earum cum sole conversione. ("Narration on Spots Observed on the Sun and their Apparent Rotation with the Sun"). This first publication on such observations, was the work of Johannes Fabricius, a Dutch  astronomer who was perhaps the first ever to observe sunspots. On 9 Mar 1611, at dawn, Johannes had used his telescope to view the rising sun and had seen several dark spots on it. He called his father to investigate this new phenomenon with him. The brightness of the Sun's center was very painful, and the two quickly switched to a projection method by means of a camera obscura.

1676 Newton sent Oldenburg the “Epistola prior” for transmission to Leibniz. Among other things it contained the first statement of the binomial theorem for negative and fractional exponents. *VFR This may be the first use of fractional and negative exponents in the modern sense (cajori, 308 pgs 370-371)

1699 John Wallis writes a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury suggesting that switching from the Julian to Gregorian calendar might be a mistake and expressing his fear that, "..if we go to alter that, it will be attended with a greater mischief than the present inconvenience. "
In a postscript he comments that Lock's suggestion of omitting the Feb 29 from eleven consecutive leap years would lead to ".. a confusion for four and forty years together, wherein we should agree neither with the old nor with the new account." *Philosophical Transactions, 1699 21, 343-354
In accordance with a 1750 act of Parliament, England and its colonies changed calendars in 1752. *Wik

1771 Lagrange presented, to the Berlin Academy, the first proof of Wilson’s theorem (n is prime iff n divides (n − 1)! + 1). Edward Waring published the theorem in 1770, but Leibniz knew it previously . *VFR

1865 Only three months before his death, Sir William Rowan Hamilton received a letter from the American astronomer, Benjamin Gould, informing him that the newly created U.S. National Academy of Sciences had elected him first on its list of Foreign Associates, thereby signifying that the academy considered him the greatest living scientist. [T. L. Hawkins, Hamilton, p. xv] *VFR

1878 Arthur Cayley addresses the London Mathematical Society brings the four color theorem to a wider audience when printed in the Society’s proceedings (Dave Richeson, Euler’s Gem, pg 132) 
The conjecture was first proposed in 1852 when Francis Guthrie, while trying to color the map of counties of England, noticed that only four different colors were needed. At the time, Guthrie's brother, Fredrick, was a student of Augustus De Morgan at University College. Francis inquired with Fredrick regarding it, who then took it to De Morgan (Francis Guthrie graduated later in 1852, and later became a professor of mathematics in South Africa). According to De Morgan:
"A student of mine [Guthrie] asked me to day to give him a reason for a fact which I did not know was a fact — and do not yet. He says that if a figure be any how divided and the compartments differently coloured so that figures with any portion of common boundary line are differently coloured — four colours may be wanted but not more — the following is his case in which four colours are wanted. Query cannot a necessity for five or more be invented…   *Wik
Others have suggested that Mobius presented the challenge of drawing a map requiring five colors as early as 1840.

1878 Thomas Craig received his Ph.D. at The Johns Hopkins University under the direction of J. J. Sylvester for a dissertation on “The representation of one surface upon another; and on some points in the theory of the curvature of surfaces.” He was one of the four to receive his degree there (the philosopher Josiah Royce was another). These were the first Ph.D.s offered by Johns Hopkins, a university founded in 1876 to advance graduate education. *VFR

1959 France issued a stamp picturing Jean Le Rond d’Alembert.
D'ALEMBERT (1717 1783) was abandoned by his parents on the steps of Saint Jean le Rond, which was the baptistery of Notre-Dame. Foster parents were found and he was christened with the name of the saint of the church. When he became famous, his mother attempted to reclaim him, but he rejected her.

1983 Pioneer 10, launched 3 March 1972, leaves the solar system, being the first man-made object to do so. It has traveled over three billion miles.

1994 Lynchburg College Professor Thomas Nicely, discovers a flaw in the Pentium chip from Intel while trying to calculate Brun's constant,(The sum of the reciprocals of all the twin primes, 1/3+1/5+1/5+1/7+1/11+1/13.... which converges to about 1.902.)
The Pentium chip occasionally gave wrong answers to a floating-point (decimal) division calculations due to errors in five entries in a lookup table on the chip. Intel spent millions of dollars replacing the faulty chips.
Nicely first noticed some inconsistencies in the calculations on June 13, 1994 shortly after adding a Pentium system to his group of computers, but was unable to eliminate other factors until October 19, 1994. On October 24, 1994 he reported the issue to Intel. According to Nicely, his contact person at Intel later admitted that Intel had been aware of the problem since May 1994, when the flaw was discovered during testing of the FPU for its new P6 core, first used in the Pentium Pro. *Wik

1773 Thomas Young (13 June 1773 – 10 May 1829) was an English polymath. He is famous for having partly deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs (specifically the Rosetta Stone) before Jean-François Champollion eventually expanded on his work. He was admired by, among others, Herschel and Einstein.
Young made notable scientific contributions to the fields of vision, light, solid mechanics, energy, physiology, language, musical harmony and Egyptology.*Wik .. For someone as talented as Young, he received relatively few honours. The one which pleased him most was election as a foreign member of the Institute in Paris in 1827. When Young died two years later, Arago gave the eulogy at the Institute saying:-
The death of Young in his own country attracted but little regard. *SAU

I recently learned that Young was also the first Secretary of the Board of Longitude, and also served as Superintendent of the Nautical Almanac" thanks to * Sophie Waring @atinybitwaring

1831 James Clerk Maxwell (13 June 1831 – 5 November 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

1871 Ernst Steinitz (13 June 1871 – 29 September 1928) In 1910 he gave a general abstract definition of a field. He is responsible for introducing a number of concepts into the Theory of Fields, including prime subfields, separable elements, and perfect fields. *VFR

1868  Wallace Clement Ware Sabine (June 13, 1868, Richwood, Ohio, U.S.—died Jan 10, 1919, Cambridge, Mass.) was a U.S. physicist who founded the science of architectural acoustics. After experimenting in the Fogg lecture room at Harvard, to investigate the effect of absorption on the reverberation time, on 29 of October 1898 he discovered the type of relation between these quantities. The duration T of the residual sound to decay below the audible intensity, starting from a 1,000,000 times higher initial intensity is given by: T = 0.161 V/A (V=room volume in m3, A=total absorption in m2). The first auditorium Sabine designed applying his new insight in acoustics, was the new Boston Music Hall, formally opened on 15 Oct 1900. Now known as the Symphony Hall, and still considered one of the world's three finest concert halls.*TIS

1876 William S. Gosset (June 13, 1876–October 16, 1937) This brew-master/statistician published under the name “student.”.   He developed the "small sample" or t-test for statistical testing.  Among many things of interest is a remark in Section 1 in the Comment by Persi Diaconis and Erich Lehmann indicating that Laplace was on the verge of first finding the t pdf but 'fell for the easy normal approximation' (quotation and discussion from the 1998 book A History of Mathematical Statistics From 1750 to 1930 by Anders Hald)

1911 Luis Walter Alvarez (June 13, 1911 – September 1, 1988) was an American experimental physicist, inventor, and professor who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1968. The American Journal of Physics commented, "Luis Alvarez was one of the most brilliant and productive experimental physicists of the twentieth century.
In 1940 Alvarez joined the MIT Radiation Laboratory, where he contributed to a number of World War II radar projects, from early improvements to Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) radar beacons, now called transponders, to a system known as VIXEN for preventing enemy submarines from realizing that they had been found by the new airborne microwave radars. The radar system for which Alvarez is best known and which has played a major role in aviation, most particularly in the post war Berlin airlift, was Ground Controlled Approach (GCA). Alvarez spent a few months at the University of Chicago working on nuclear reactors for Enrico Fermi before coming to Los Alamos to work for Robert Oppenheimer on the Manhattan project. Alvarez worked on the design of explosive lenses, and the development of exploding-bridgewire detonators. As a member of Project Alberta, he observed the Trinity nuclear test from a B-29 Superfortress, and later the bombing of Hiroshima from the B-29 The Great Artiste.
After the war Alvarez was involved in the design of a liquid hydrogen bubble chamber that allowed his team to take millions of photographs of particle interactions, develop complex computer systems to measure and analyze these interactions, and discover entire families of new particles and resonance states. This work resulted in his being awarded the Nobel Prize in 1968. He was involved in a project to x-ray the Egyptian pyramids to search for unknown chambers. With his son, geologist Walter Alvarez, he developed the Alvarez hypothesis which proposes that the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs was the result of an asteroid impact. *Wik
1906 Bruno de Finetti, (13 June 1906 - 20 July 1985) De Finetti was born in Innsbruck, Austria, and was a big contributor to subjective/personal probability and Bayesian inference along with L.J. ("Jimmie") Savage (1917-1971), both of whom are discussed briefly in Chapter 13 ("The Bayesian Heresy") of David Salsburg's book The Lady Tasting Tea and in Salsburg's concluding Chapter 29.*David Bee

1928  John Forbes Nash, Jr. (born June 13, 1928) is an American mathematician whose works in game theory, differential geometry, and partial differential equations have provided insight into the forces that govern chance and events inside complex systems in daily life. His theories are used in market economics, computing, evolutionary biology, artificial intelligence, accounting, politics and military theory. Serving as a Senior Research Mathematician at Princeton University  during the later part of his life, he shared the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with game theorists Reinhard Selten and John Harsanyi.
Nash is the subject of the Hollywood movie A Beautiful Mind. The film, loosely based on the biography of the same name, focuses on Nash's mathematical genius and struggle with paranoid schizophrenia*Wik

1966 Grigori Yakovlevich Perelman (13 June 1966, - ) is a Russian mathematician who has made landmark contributions to Riemannian geometry and geometric topology.
In 1994, Perelman proved the soul conjecture. In 2003, he proved Thurston's geometrization conjecture. This consequently solved in the affirmative the Poincaré conjecture, posed in 1904, which before its solution was viewed as one of the most important and difficult open problems in topology.
In August 2006, Perelman was awarded the Fields Medal for "his contributions to geometry and his revolutionary insights into the analytical and geometric structure of the Ricci flow." Perelman declined to accept the award or to appear at the congress, stating: "I'm not interested in money or fame, I don't want to be on display like an animal in a zoo." On 22 December 2006, the journal Science recognized Perelman's proof of the Poincaré conjecture as the scientific "Breakthrough of the Year", the first such recognition in the area of mathematics.
On 18 March 2010, it was announced that he had met the criteria to receive the first Clay Millennium Prize for resolution of the Poincaré conjecture. On 1 July 2010, he turned down the prize of one million dollars, saying that he considers his contribution to proving the Poincaré conjecture to be no greater than that of Richard Hamilton, who introduced the theory of Ricci flow with the aim of attacking the geometrization conjecture. *Wik

1916 Silvanus P. Thomson (19 June 1851 – 12 June 1916) In 1910 he published Calculus Made Easy, which was published anonymously until after his death in 1916. It is still in print. *VFR He was a noted physicist and engineer, and a celebrated teacher and writer on electricity and magnetism. He also wrote popular biographies of Faraday and Lord Kelvin. At his death he was professor at City and Guilds Technical College at Finsbury (London)

1939  Hermann Wiener (15 May 1857 in Karlsruhe, Germany-13 June 1939 in Darmstadt, Germany)
was a German mathematician who worked on the foundations of geometry*SAU 

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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