# The Week in Math: December

Here are the highlights from the historical world of mathematics for the month of December. While this list is not meant to be all-encompassing, I have tried to pick out those things that I find most interesting.

**December 1:**

*Birthdays:* Nikolai Lobachevsky (1792-1856)

*Deaths:* G.H. Hardy (1877-1947)

**December 2:**

*Math News:* In 1942, the first self-sustaining fission reaction takes place in a squash court under Stagg Field. (See MathDL for details.)

*Deaths:* L.E.J. Brouwer (1881-1966)

**December 3:**

*Deaths:* Felix Bernstein (1878-1956)

**December 4:**

*Deaths:* Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

**December 5:**

*Birthdays:* Arnold Sommerfeld (1868-1951), Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976)

**December 6:**

*Birthdays:* Giulio Fagnano (1682-1766)

**December 7:**

*Math News:* In 1853, Cantor writes to Dedekind explaining that the real numbers are uncountable. (See MathDL for details.)

*Birthdays: *Leopold Kronecker (1823-1891)

*Deaths:* George Darwin (1845-1912)

**December 8:**

*Birthdays:* Jacques Hadamard (1865-1963)

*Deaths:* Albert Girard (1595-1632), George Boole (1815-1864), Pafnuty Chebyshev (1821-1894)

**December 9:**

*Math News:* In 1911, Poincare writes to a mathematical journal asking if they would consider publishing an unfinished paper he had written. Concerned that he would die before it was finished, he hoped that the paper would inspire others to finish his work. Shortly after the paper was published, Birkhoff was able to complete it. (See MathDL for details.)

*Deaths:* Hermann Weyl (1885-1955)

**December 10:**

*Birthdays:* Carl Jacobi (1804-1851)

**December 11:**

*Math News:* In 1884, Hilbert passes his oral examinations for his Ph.D. at the University of Konigsberg. (See MathDL for details.)

*Birthdays:* Max Born (1882-1970)

**December 12:**

*Birthdays:* Ludwig Sylow (1832-1918)

**December 13:**

*Math News:* In 1907, Emmy Noether receives her Ph.D. from the University of Erlangen. (See MathDL for details.)

*Birthdays:* George Pólya (1887-1985)

*Deaths:* Nicolo Tartaglia (1500-1557)

**December 14:**

*Birthdays: *Tycho Brahe (1546-1601)

**December 15:**

*Math News:* In 1742, Euler presents the first concise statement of the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra – “every algebraic equation of degree *n* has exactly *n* complex roots.” (See MathDL for details.)

*Birthdays:* János Bolyai (1802-1860), Freeman Dyson (1923-present)

*Deaths:* Wolfgang Pauli (1900-1958)

**December 16:**

*Math News:* In 1799, Gauss writes to Farkas Bolyai, apologizing for not discussing the theory of parallels (The Parallel Postulate) with him during their college days at the University of Göttingen. In 1861, Weierstrass has a physical breakdown due to overwork. (See MathDL for details.)

**December 17:**

*Birthdays:* Sophus Lie (1842-1899)

*Deaths:* William Thomson – Lord Kelvin (1824-1907)

**December 18:**

Deaths: Bernard Bolzano (1781-1848), Charles-François Sturm (1803-1855)

**December 19:**

*Math News:* In 1908, *Scientific American* offers $500 to anyone who can come up with “a simple explanation of the fourth dimension.” (See MathDL for details.)

*Birthdays:* Charles-Julien Brianchon (1783-1864)

**December 20:**

*Birthdays:* Paul Tannery (1843-1904)

*Deaths:* Martin Bartels (1769-1836)

**December 21:**

*Deaths:* Eric Temple Bell (1883-1960), Paul Gordan (1837-1912)

**December 22:**

*Math News:* In 1669, John Wallis writes “In a dark night, in bed, without pen, ink or paper, or anything equivalent, I did by memory extract the square root of 3,00000,00000,00000,00000,00000,00000,00000,00000, which I found to be 1,73205,08075,68077,29353, … and did the next day commit it to writing.” (See MathDL for details.)

*Birthdays:* Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920)

**December 23:**

*Math News:* In 1751, Jacobi declares today the birthday of elliptical functions. (See MathDL for details.)

**December 24:**

*Birthdays:* Charles Hermite (1822-1901)

**December 25:**

Birthdays: Isaac Newton (1643-1727) – according to the English calendar pre-1752

Deaths: Wilhelm Kutta (1867-1944)

**December 26:**

*Math News:* In 1951, Kurt Godel delivers the Gibbs Lecture with a paper entitled, “Some Basic Theorems on the Foundations of Mathematics and their Philosophical Implications.” (See MathDL for details.)

*Birthdays:* Charles Babbage (1791-1871)

**December 27:**

*Birthdays:* Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), Jacob Bernoulli (1654-1705)

**December 28:**

*Math News:* In 1938, Kurt Godel gives a lecture to the American Mathematical Society on the consistency of the Axiom of Choice and the generalized Continuum Hypothesis. (See MathDL for details.)

Birthdays: Arthur Eddington (1882-1944), John von Neumann (1903-1957)

**December 29:**

*Math News:* In 1692, Huygens writes a letter to L’Hospital giving him the first complete sketch of the Folium of Descartes. (See MathDL for details.)

*Deaths:* Brook Taylor (1685-1731), Leopold Kronecker (1823-1891), Tullio Levi-Civita (1873-1941)

**December 30:**

*Deaths:* Robert Boyle (1627-1691), Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)

**December 31:**

*Deaths:* Ludolph von Ceulen (1540-1610)

**References:** If you are interested in additional facts or birthdays, please visit the sites that I used to generate these lists:

- http://mathdl.maa.org – general mathematical facts
- http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk:80/~history/Day_files/Now.html – birthdays

Pingback: The Month in Math: November/December | Musings on Math

Pingback: The Month in Math: December | Musings on Math