# The Week in Math: February

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

**February 1:**

*Math News:* In 1650, Descartes catches a “chill” while tutoring the Queen of Sweden. He dies 10 days later. In 1673, Leibniz demonstrates his calculating machine to the Royal Society. (See MathDL for details.)

*Deaths:* Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976), George Stokes (1819-1903)

**February** 2:

*Birthdays:* Lodovico Ferrari (1522-1565), William Hopkins (1793-1866)

*Deaths:* Guillaume de L’Hospital (1661-1704), Bertand Russell (1872-1970)

**February** 3:

*Deaths:* Oliver Heaviside (1850-1925)

**February** 4:

*Deaths:* Hendrik Lorentz (1853-1928), Satyendranath Bose (1894-1974)

**February** 5:

*Math News: *In 1676, Newton writes a letter to Robert Hooke which includes the famous line “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” (See MathDL for details.)

*Deaths:* Oskar Klein (1894-1977)

**February** 6:

*Math News:* In 1930, Kurt Godel receives his Ph.D. from the University of Vienna. (See MathDL for details.)

*Birthdays: *Nicolaus(II) Bernoulli (1695-1726), Scipione del Ferro (1465-1526)

**February** 7:

*Math News:* In 1885, David Hilbert earns his Ph.D. (See MathDL for details.)

*Birthdays: *G.H. Hardy (1887-1947), Eric Temple Bell (1883-1960)

**February** 8:

*Birthdays:* Proclus Diadochus (411-485), Daniel Bernoulli (1700-1782)

*Deaths:* John von Neumann (1903-1957)

**February** 9:

*Birthdays:* Farkas Bolyai (1775-1856), Donald Coxeter (1907-2003)

**February** 10:

*Birthdays:* Claude Louis Navier (1785-1836),

*Deaths:* Sofia Kovalevskaya (1850-1891)

**February** 11:

*Math News:* *Math News:* In 1897, the Indiana Pi Bill is defeated in the Indiana senate. The bill is designed to credit Edwin J. Goodwin with devising a method to Square a Circle. What Goodwin doesn’t realize is that, in 1882, Ferdinand von Lindemann had already proven that it is impossible to Square a Circle. However, what makes this story amazing is how the bill is defeated. It turns out that a visiting mathematics professor from Purdue, C. A. Waldo, happens to be in the senate chambers on unrelated business. After hearing about the bill, he is able to convince members of the senate to vote it down. Who knows what would have happened had he not been there! (See MathDL for details.)

*Deaths:* Rene Descartes (1596-1650), Leon Foucault (1819-1868)

**February** 12:

*Math News: *In 1826, Lobachevsky presents a paper on his “Imaginary Geometry” at Kazan University. Imaginary Geometry is what we now know as non-Euclidean geometry. (See MathDL for details.)

*Deaths:* Richard Dedekind (1831-1916)

**February** 13:

*Birthdays: *Lejeune Dirichlet (1805-1859)

*Deaths:* Franz Adolph Taurinus (1794-1874)

**February** 14:

*Math News:* In 1814, Pierre-Simon Marquis de Laplace presents his famous “Essai philosophique des probabilites“. In 1843, Gauss writes a letter to Gerling which includes the following quote, “Let me add further that I have this day received from Hungary a little work on the non-Euclidean geometry, in which I find all my own ideas and results developed with greater elegance, although in a form so concise as to offer great difficulty to anyone not familiar with the subject. … I regard this young geometer [Janos] Bolyai as a genius of the first order.” (See MathDL for details.)

*Birthdays:* Eugene Catalan(1814-1894), Edmund Landau (1877-1938)

*Deaths:* David Hilbert (1862-1943)

**February** 15:

*Math News:* In 1671, James Gregory writes that he has discovered infinite series for the tangent and secant functions. (See MathDL for details.)

*Birthdays:* Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)

*Deaths:* Richard Feynman (1918-1988)

**February** 18:

*Deaths:* Eugenio Beltrami (1835-1900), Carl Jacobi (1804-1851), Sophus Lie (1842-1899)

**February** 19:

*Birthdays:* Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543)

*Deaths:* Karl Weierstrass (1815-1897), Edmund Landau (1877-1938)

**February** 20:

*Birthdays: *Ludwig Boltzmann (1844-1906)

**February** 22:

*Birthdays:* Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894), Frank Ramsey (1903-1930)

**February** 23:

*Math News:* In 1826, Lobachevsky first introduces the world to his non-Euclidean geometry in a talk at the University of Kazan. In 1855, Gauss dies at 1:05 A.M. In a strange coincidence, the pocket watch that he carried with him for most his life stops working at almost the exact same moment. (See MathDL for details.)

*Deaths:* Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855)

**February** 24:

*Birthdays: *Felix Bernstein (1878-1956)

*Deaths:* Nikolai Lobachevsky (1792-1856)

**February 27:**

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

**February** 28:

*Birthdays:* Alexandre Vandermonde (1735-1796)

**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

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