Sunday 1 June 2014

On This Day in Math - June 1

There are certainly people who regard √2
as something perfectly obvious but jib at √-1.
This is because they think they can visualise 
the former as something in physical space 
but not the latter. 
Actually √-1 is a much simpler concept
~Edward Titschmarsh

The 152nd day of the year; the eighth prime number is 19, and 8 x 19 = 152.... 152 is also the largest known even number that can be expressed as the sum of two primes in exactly four ways. (Students should find all four ways.)

1631 Pierre de Fermat married Louise de Long (his mother’s cousin), who gave him three sons. *VFR One of them (Samuel) edited and published his father’s mathematical letters and papers in 1679. It was in these publications that Samuel revealed the marginal note in his father's copy of Diophantus's Arithmetica which became known to the world as Fermat’s Last Theorem.

1639 At the request of his dying mentor, the acclaimed mathematician, astronomer, and polymath Peter Krüger, Johannes Hevelius meticulously observed the solar eclipse, then decided to dedicate the rest of his life to understanding the cosmos. *Maria Popova at
1658 Pascal posed six questions related to the cycloid as challenge problems. They dealt with area, volume of solids of revolution, and center of gravity. See Scripta Mathematica, 26(1963), 297– 298 for a list of the problems.*VFR
Pascal used the pseudonym Amos Dettonville, which is an anagram of the name Louis de Montalt, under which he wrote his “letters provinciales”. Wren, Huygens, and de Sleuse gave partial solutions. Pascal answered all six questions in publications the next year under the same pseudonym. (The Early Mathematical Manuscripts of Leibniz By Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, J. M. Child)

1709 The Rev. John Colson becomes the first headmaster of Sir Joseph Williamson's Free Mathematical School. He held the position until he was elected Lucasian Professor on March 1, of 1739(1740 NS). *Correspondence of Sir Isaac Newton and Professor Cotes, pg 2

In 1869, Thomas Edison of Boston, Mass., received his first patent. It was for an "electrographic vote recorder." The device was the first of its kind, and would enable a legislator to register a vote either for or against an issue by turning a switch to the right or left. His application was executed on 13 Nov 1868 and submitted to the U.S. Patent Office on 28 Nov 1868 (No. 90646).

1889 Charles P. Steinmetz arrived in New York City, having fled Breslau because of his socialist views. He went to work for the Eickenmeyer Dynamo Machine Company, later General Electric, as an electrical engineer. In spite of a natural inclination to mathematics, circumstances forced him to become the most distinguished and highest paid electrical engineer in the world. [A Century of Mathematics in America, Part I, p. 14]. *VFR

1890 The first census compiled by machine was completed. The previous census took nearly a decade to compute. The 1890 census recorded the U.S. population at 62,979,766. See 8 January 1889. [Kane, p. 169] *VFR ... The 2010 census reported the population of the USA as 308,745,538. Sounds like a problem for a unit in exponentials.

1944 First COLOSSUS Mark II works.
The Colossus machines were electronic computing devices used by British codebreakers to help read encrypted German messages during World War II. They used vacuum tubes (thermionic valves) to perform the calculations.
Colossus was designed by engineer Tommy Flowers with input from Harry Fensom, Allen Coombs, Sid Broadhurst and Bill Chandler at the Post Office Research Station, Dollis Hill to solve a problem posed by mathematician Max Newman at Bletchley Park. The prototype, Colossus Mark 1, was shown to be working in December 1943 and was operational at Bletchley Park by February 1944. An improved Colossus Mark 2 first worked on 1 June 1944, just in time for the Normandy Landings. Ten Colossi were in use by the end of the war.   The Colossus was used to find possible key combinations for the Lorenz machines – rather than decrypting an intercepted message in its entirety.
In spite of the destruction of the Colossus hardware and blueprints as part of the effort to maintain a project secrecy that was kept up into the 1970s—a secrecy that deprived some of the Colossus creators of credit for their pioneering advancements in electronic digital computing during their lifetimes—a functional replica of a Colossus computer was completed in 2007. *Wik

1957 The June issue of Mad Magazine carried, among several other unusual features, the first published work of 19 year old Case Western Reserve Freshman, Donal Knuth. His article developed the "Potrzebie System of Weights and Measures". The base of this new revolutionary system is the potrzebie, which equals the thickness of Mad issue 26, or 2.263348517438173216473 mm. *Wik

In 1965, A. Penzias and R. Wilson detected a 3 degree kelvin primordial background radiation using a horn reflector antenna built for radio astronomy. The Big Bang description of the origin of the universe took place 15 to 20 billion years ago in an explosion from a hot dense state. The high energy radiation produced when the universe was very young and very hot would have been absorbed and degraded as the universe expanded and cooled. The microwave background radiation first observed by Penzias and Wilson is thought to be a relic of this very early state, when the universe was only about a million years old. The uniformity of microwave background indicates that the universe was homogeneous until it was a few million years old.*TIS

1966 Surveyor I was launched. It was the first American spacecraft to make a soft landing on the Moon. Curiously, the word “spaceship” was defined by the 1958 edition of Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary as “An imaginary aircraft of the future for interplanetary travel outside the earth’s atmosphere.” *VFR


1796 Nicolas-Leonard Sadi Carnot, (1 June 1796 — 24 August 1832) was a French physicist. He became a captain of engineers in the army, and spent much of his life investigating the design of steam engines. His book Reflections on the Motive Power of Heat (1824) contained a theorem which says that a maximum efficiency of heat engine can be obtained by a reversible engine, and that efficiency depends only on the temperatures of the hot and the cool sources of the engine. This theorem played an essential role for the subsequent development of thermodynamics. It was written to promote the construction of steam engines and other heat engines in France, whose industrial development was lagging behind England's. *TIS The name Carnot is listed among the seventy-two names of French scientists, engineers and other notable people On the Eiffel Tower, however it honors the father of Sadi Carnot, Lazare Nicholas Marguerite Carnot.

1843 Henry Faulds (1 Jun 1843, 19 Mar 1930 at age 86) Scottish physician who, from 1873, became a missionary in Japan, where he worked as a surgeon superintendent at a Tokyo hospital, taught at the local univeristy, and founded the Tokyo Institute for the Blind. In the late 1870s, his attention was drawn to fingerprints of ancient potters remaining on their work that he helped unearth at an archaeological dig site in Japan. He commenced a study of fingerprints, and became convinced that each individual had a unique pattern. He corresponded on the subject with Charles Darwin, and published a paper about his ideas in Nature (28 Oct 1880). When he returned to Britain in 1886, he unsuccessfully offered his fingerprinting identification scheme for forensic uses to Scotland Yard. Undeserved confusion on priority for the discovery with Francis Galton and Sir William J. Herschel lasted until 1917. *TIS

1866 Charles Benedict Davenport (1 Jun 1866, 18 Feb 1944 at age 77) American zoologist who contributed substantially to the study of eugenics (the improvement of populations through breeding) and heredity and who pioneered the use of statistical techniques in biological research. Partly as a result of breeding experiments with chickens and canaries, he was one of the first, soon after 1902, to recognize the validity of the newly discovered Mendelian theory of heredity. In Heredity in Relation to Eugenics (1911), he compiled evidence concerning the inheritance of human traits, on the basis of which he argued that the application of genetic principles would improve the human race. These data were at the heart of his lifelong promotion of eugenics, though he muddled science with social philosophy. *TIS

1899 Edward Charles Titschmarsh (1 June 1899 in Newbury, -  died 18 January 1963 at Oxford) English mathematician whose contributions to analysis placed him in the forefront of his profession. His contributions helped resolve the differences between the general theory of quantum mechanics and the methods used to solve particular problems in quantum theory. All Titchmarsh's work is in analysis. His early studies were on Fourier series, Fourier integrals, functions of a complex variable, integral equations and the Riemann zeta function. From 1939, Titchmarsh concentrated on the theory of series expansions of eigenfunctions of differential equations, work which helped to resolve problems in quantum mechanics. His work on this topic occupied him for the last 25 years of his life. *TIS


1861 Kurt Hensel  (29 December 1861 – 1 June 1941) He is best known for his work on p-adic numbers. *VFR  First described by Kurt Hensel in 1897, the p-adic numbers were motivated primarily by an attempt to bring the ideas and techniques of power series methods into number theory. Their influence now extends far beyond this. For example, the field of p-adic analysis essentially provides an alternative form of calculus.

1867 Karl George Christian von Staudt (January 24, 1798 – June 1, 1867) German mathematician who developed the first complete theory of imaginary points, lines, and planes in projective geometry. His early work was on determining the orbit of a comet and, based on this work, he received his doctorate. He showed how to construct a regular inscribed polygon of 17 sides using only compasses. He turned to projective geometry and Bernoulli numbers. An important work on projective geometry, Geometrie der Lage was published in 1847. It was the first work to completely free projective geometry from any metrical basis. He also gave a geometric solution to quadratic equations.*TIS

1918 Eduardo Torroja Caballe (February 1, 1847 – June 1, 1918) was a Spaniard mathematician born in the city of Tarragona, Spain. His father was Juan Torroja, a Professor of Geography and History. He continued his studies at Complutense University, where he obtained the degrees of Bachelor of Science (1864), Masters of Science (1866), Architect (1869) and Doctor of Science (1873) in Mathematics.
Very early in his studies he became a disciple of Karl Georg Christian von Staudt (who also died on this same date), whose ideas of Geometry he embraced and promoted among his fellow mathematicians for the rest of his life. The strong presence of Geometry in Spain's mathematical curriculum, even to this day, can be traced back to Torroja's influence. *Wik

2006 Shokichi Iyanaga (April 2, 1906 – June 1, 2006) was a Japanese mathematician. Iyanaga published many papers which arose through several courses such as algebraic topology, functional analysis, and geometry, which he taught. He became Professor at the University of Tokyo in 1942. It was during World War II. Towards the end of the war, many Japanese cities were bombarded and he had to find refuge in the countryside. He was busy in editing textbooks from primary and secondary schools and he continued to give courses and organise seminars.*Wik

*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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