Monday 11 May 2020

On This Day in Math - May 11

A mind which has a taste for scientific inquiry,
and has learned the habit of applying its principles readily to the cases which occur,
has within itself an inexhaustible source of pure and exciting contemplations.

~John Herschel

The 132nd day of the year; 132 and its reversal (231) are both divisible by the prime 11 (132/11 = 12, 231/11 = 21). Note that the resulting quotients are also reversals. *Prime Curios

132 is the last year day which will be a Catalan Number. The Catalan sequence was described in the 18th century by Leonhard Euler, who was interested in the number of different ways of dividing a polygon into triangles (the octagon can be divided into 6 triangles 142 ways. The sequence is named after Eugène Charles Catalan, who discovered the connection to parenthesized expressions during his exploration of the Towers of Hanoi puzzle.

If you take the sum of all 2-digit numbers you can make from 132, you get 132: 12 + 13 + 21 + 23 + 31 + 32 = 132. 132 is the smallest number with this property,


1892 Edgeworth’s first Newmarch lecture. In May and June of 1892 Edgeworth, newly appointed to the Oxford chair and editor of The Economic Journal, gave six Newmarch lectures, "On the Uses and Methods of Statistics."

1894 The Mississipi Weather Almanac lists this date as the date of the "most unusual weather event in the states history." In the little town of Bovina, just a short run from Vicksburg (Grant had his Army made Bovina a field hospital during the siege of Vicksburg) during a hail storm a 6" by 8" gopher turtle fell from the sky encased in ice. (admit it, you just don't find that kind of fascinating science information on your typical blog) * "Queen of the Turtle Derby" by Julia Reed

1897 black American inventor, William U. Moody was issued a U.S. design patent for a “game board design.” . It shows a rectangular board with a particular arrangement of partitions in the form of arcs of concentric circles and some other shorter partitions causing a complex route for a ball to travel from one corner to the diagonal corner, presumably, by tilting the board. *TIS
This was one of a number of variants of the most popular maze game of the period. Charles Martin Crandall produced many popular toys from his plant in Pennsylvania, and his "Pigs in Clover", release in 1889, captured the nation in a frenzy. The New York Tribune's March 13, 1889 issue reported Senator William M. Evarts purchased one from a street fakir in order to get rid of him. He took the puzzle home and worked it for hours. The following morning he brought it with him into senate chambers where Senator George Graham Vest stopped by Evarts' desk, borrowed the puzzle and took it to a cloak room. Soon thereafter he was joined by Senators James L. Pugh, James B. Eustis, Edward C. Walthall and John E. Kenna. A page was sent out to buy five of the puzzles and upon his return, the group engaged in a "pig driving contest". About 30 minutes later, Senator Vest announced his accomplishment of driving the last pig in the pen. A few days later a political cartoon in the New York World's March 17, 1889 issue lampooned President Benjamin Harrison's advisors and cabinet members showing the group sitting around playing the game. The caption read "Will Mr. Harrison be able to get all these hungry pigs in the official pen?"

1905 Albert Einstein's paper, "On the motion of small particles suspended in liquids at rest required by the molecular-kinetic theory of heat." (Brownian motion paper) is received by Annalen der Physik, .
"In this paper Einstein reports that the kinetic theory of heat predicts that small particles suspended in water must execute a random motion visible under the microscope. He suspects this motion is Brownian motion but has insufficient datato affirm it. The prediction is a powerful test of the truth of the kinetic theory of heat. A failure to observe the effect would refute the theory. If it is seen and measured, it provides a way to estimate Avogadro's number. The domain in which the effect is observed is one in which the second law of thermodynamics no longer holds, a disturbing result for the energeticists of the time. "  * John D. Norton, Einstein, 1905

1920 Oxford University passed a statute admitting women to degrees. *VFR

1928 radio station WGY, in Schenectady, NY, began America’s first regularly scheduled TV broadcasts. The programs lasted from 1:30 to 2:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Most of the viewers were on the technical staff at nearby General Electric, which had designed the system and was using the broadcasts to refine its equipment. A handful of hobbyists who had built their own sets were also able to watch. Those who tuned in had to make constant adjustments, turning two knobs at once to keep the blurry picture discernible on their three-inch-square screens. By the end of 1928, 17 more stations around the country began scheduled broadcasts, designed to test the apparatus rather than attract viewers. *TIS

1951, Jay Forrester patented computer core memory.

1957 Howard F. Fehr, of Columbia University Teachers College, in an address at Syracuse: “A mathematics professor who talks at length affects both ends of the listener—he makes one end feel numb and the other feel dumb.” [Eves, Revisited, p. 151] . *VFR

1959 Eugene P. Wigner delivered a penetrating Courant Lecture at NYU on “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences,” which is well worth reading. *VFR

1979 VisiCalc Introduced. It was the first program operable by inexperienced computer users. As it ran only on the Apple, the company soon was on top of the market. *VFR

1986 A specially designed bicycle set the human powered land speed record of 105.37 km per hour (65.48 miles per hour). *VFR

1997 Garry Kasparov loses in the rematch with IBM's Deep Blue in the first match of what many considered a test of artificial intelligence. The world's best chess player, Kasparov lost the match and $1.1 million purse to the IBM supercomputer, which he had claimed could never surpass human chess ability. After losing the sixth and final game of the match, Kasparov accused IBM of building a machine specifically to beat him. Observers said he was frustrated by Deep Blue's quickness although they expected him to win with unconventional moves. *CHM On February 10, 1996, Deep Blue became the first machine to win a chess game against a reigning world champion under regular time controls. However, Kasparov won three and drew two of the following five games, beating Deep Blue by a score of 4–2 (wins count 1 point, draws count ½ point). The match concluded on February 17, 1996.
Deep Blue was then heavily upgraded (unofficially nicknamed "Deeper Blue") and played Kasparov again in May 1997, winning the six-game rematch 3½–2½, ending on May 11. *Wik


1702 Isaac Greenwood. (11 May 1702 Boston, Massachusetts – 22 October 1745 Charleston, South Carolina ) In 1727 he was installed at Harvard as the first Hollis professor of mathematics and natural and experimental philosophy. He strengthened and modernized the science program at Harvard. *VFR
During his tenure, he wrote anonymously the first natively-published American book on mathematics – the Greenwood Book, published in 1729. This book made the first published statement of the short scale value for billion in the United States, which eventually became the value used in most English-speaking countries.
He was removed from the Chair for intemperance (drunkenness) in 1737.
Unable to support his family, he joined the Royal Navy as a chaplain – HMS Rose in 1742, and later HMS Aldborough in 1744. He was released from service in Charleston, South Carolina, on 22 May 1745.
He drank himself to death a few months later on 22 October 1745.*Wik

1871 Frank Schlesinger (May 11, 1871 New York City – July 10, 1943 Old Lyme, Connecticut) American astronomer who pioneered in the use of photography to map stellar positions and to measure stellar parallaxes, which could give more precise determinations of distance than visual ones, and with less than one hundredth as much time at the telescope. He designed instruments and mathematical and numerical techniques to improve parallax measurements. He published ten volumes of zone catalogs, including some 150,000 stars. He compiled positions, magnitudes, proper motions, radial velocities, and other data to produce the first edition and, with Louise Jenkins, the second, of the widely-used Bright Star Catalogues, making Yale a leading institution in astrometry. He established a second Yale observatory in South Africa. *VFR

1881 Theodore von Karman (May 11, 1881 – May 7, 1963) Hungarian-American aerospace engineer and physicist who was active primarily in the fields of aeronautics and astronautics. He is responsible for many key advances in aerodynamics, notably his work on supersonic and hypersonic airflow characterization.*Wik; He was director of the Institute for Aerodynamics at the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH) in AACHEN, Nordrhein-Westfalen, in 1913-1934. The main lecture theatre complex is named the Kármán Auditorium and there is a photo and a bust of him in the foyer.

1924 Eugene Borisovich Dynkin ( May 11, 1924 — 14 November 2014) was a Soviet and American mathematician. He has made contributions to the fields of probability and algebra, especially semisimple Lie groups, Lie algebras, and Markov processes. The Dynkin diagram, the Dynkin system, and Dynkin's lemma are named for him.
In 1968, Dynkin was forced to transfer from the Moscow University to the Central Economic Mathematical Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences. He worked there on the theory of economic growth and economic equilibrium. He remained at the Institute until 1976, when he emigrated to the United States. In 1977, he became a professor at Cornell University, where he died in 2014. *Wik

1918 Richard Phillips Feynman (11 May, 1918 – 15 February, 1988) was an American theoretical physicist who was probably the most brilliant, influential, and iconoclastic figure in his field in the post-WW II era. By age 15, he had mastered calculus. He took every physics course at MIT. His lifelong interest was in subatomic physics. In 1942, he went to Los Alamos where Hans Bethe made the 24 year old Feynman a group leader in the theoretical division, to work on estimating how much uranium would be needed to achieve critical mass for the Manhattan (atomic bomb) Project. After the war, he developed Feynman Diagrams, a simple notation to describe the complex behavior of subatomic particles. In 1965, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for work in quantum electrodynamics. *TIS

1930 Edsger Wybe Dijkstra (May 11, 1930 – August 6, 2002) was a Dutch computer scientist. He received the 1972 Turing Award for fundamental contributions to developing programming languages, and was the Schlumberger Centennial Chair of Computer Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin from 1984 until 2000. Among his contributions to computer science are the shortest path-algorithm, also known as Dijkstra's algorithm; Reverse Polish Notation and related Shunting yard algorithm; the THE multiprogramming system, an important early example of structuring a system as a set of layers; Banker's algorithm; and the semaphore construct for coordinating multiple processors and programs. Another concept due to Dijkstra in the field of distributed computing is that of self-stabilization – an alternative way to ensure the reliability of the system. Dijkstra's algorithm is used in SPF, Shortest Path First, which is used in the routing protocols OSPF and IS-IS. *Wik


1610 Matteo Ricci (October 6, 1552; Macerata – May 11, 1610;Beijing )was an Italian Jesuit who went to China as a missionary and introduced the Chinese to Western mathematics.*SAU
There is now a memorial plaque in Zhaoqing to commemorate Ricci's six-year stay there, as well as a "Ricci Memorial Centre", in a building dating from the 1860's. *Wik

1686 Otto von Guericke (originally spelled Gericke) (November 20, 1602 – May 11, 1686 (Julian calendar); November 30, 1602 – May 21, 1686 (Gregorian calendar)) was a German scientist, inventor, and politician. He is best remembered for his invention of the Magdeburg hemispheres, popularized in the writings of Caspar Schott. His major scientific achievements were the establishment of the physics of vacuums, the discovery of an experimental method for clearly demonstrating electrostatic repulsion, and his advocacy of the reality of "action at a distance" and of "absolute space". *Wik

1871 1st Baronet) Sir John (Frederick William) Herschel (7 March 1792 – 11 May 1871) was an English astronomer. As successor to his father, Sir William Herschel, he discovered another 525 nebulae and clusters. John Herschel was a pioneer in celestial photography, and as a chemist contributed to the development of sensitized photographic paper (independently of Talbot). In 1819, he discovered that sodium thiosulphate dissolved silver salts, as used in developing photographs. He introduced the terms positive image and negative image. Being diverse in his research, he also studied physical and geometrical optics, birefringence of crystals, spectrum analysis, and the interference of light and sound waves. To compare the brightness of stars, he invented the astrometer.*TIS [He was buried in Westminster Abbey.]

1957 Théophile Ernest de Donder (19 August 1872 – 11 May 1957) was a Belgian mathematician and physicist famous for his 1923 work in developing correlations between the Newtonian concept of chemical affinity and the Gibbsian concept of free energy.
He received his doctorate in physics and mathematics from the Université Libre de Bruxelles in 1899, for a thesis entitled Sur la Théorie des Invariants Intégraux (On the Theory of Integral Invariants).
He was professor between 1911 and 1942, at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. Initially he continued the work of Henri Poincaré and Élie Cartan. As from 1914 he was influenced by the work of Albert Einstein and was an enthusiastic proponent of the theory of relativity. He gained significant reputation in 1923, when he developed his definition of chemical affinity. He pointed out a connection between the chemical affinity and the Gibbs free energy.
He is considered the father of thermodynamics of irreversible processes. De Donder’s work was later developed further by Ilya Prigogine. De Donder was an associate and friend of Albert Einstein. *Wik

1965 Jason John Nassau (29 March 1893 in Smyrna, (now Izmir) Turkey - 11 May 1965 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA) was an American astronomer.
He performed his doctoral studies at Syracuse, and gained his Ph.D. mathematics in 1920. (His thesis was Some Theorems in Alternants.) He then became an assistant professor at the Case Institute of Technology in 1921, teaching astronomy. He continued to instruct at that institution, becoming the University's first chair of astronomy from 1924 until 1959 and chairman of the graduate division from 1936 until 1940. After 1959 he was professor emeritus.
From 1924 until 1959 he was also the director of the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) Warner and Swasey Observatory in Cleveland, Ohio. He was a pioneer in the study of galactic structure. He also discovered a new star cluster, co-discovered 2 novae in 1961, and developed a technique of studying the distribution of red (M-class or cooler) stars.*Wik

2012 Fritz Joseph Ursell FRS (28 April 1923 – 11 May 2012) was a British mathematician noted for his contributions to fluid mechanics, especially in the area of wave-structure interactions. He held the Beyer Chair of Applied Mathematics at the University of Manchester from 1961–1990, was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1972 and retired in 1990.
Ursell came to England as a refugee in 1937 from Germany. From 1941 to 1943 he studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating with a bachelor degree in mathematics. *Wik

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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