The Week in Math: January

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

January 1:

Birthdays: Satyendranath Bose (1894-1974)

Deaths: Johann Bernoulli (1667-1748),  Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894),  Eugene Wigner (1902-1995), Alexandre Vandermonde (1735-1796)

January 3:

Deaths: Zygmunt Janiszewski (1888-1920)

January 4:

Birthdays: Sir Issac Newton (1643-1727)

Deaths: Gabriel Cramer (1704-1752), Erwin Schrödinger (1887-1961)

January 5:

Math News: In 1874, Georg Cantor writes a letter to Richard Dedekind wondering if the points in a square can be put into a one-to-one     correspondence with those on a line.  Cantor believes that while a proof would be difficult, the answer seems to be so obviously ‘no’ that a proof would be unnecessary.  In three years time, Cantor would prove that the answer is ‘yes.’  Oops!  (See MathDL for details.)

Birthdays: Camille Jordan (1838-1922)

Deaths: Max Born (1882-1970)

January 6:

Deaths: Georg Cantor (1845-1918)

January 7:

Math News: In 1610, Galileo discovered the first three moons of Jupiter.  (See MathDL for details.)

January 8:

Birthdays: Stephen Hawking (1942-present ), Richard Courant (1888-1972)

Deaths: Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

January 10:

Math News: In 1854, Riemann presents a paper to the philosophical faculty at Göttingen in which he challenged the mathematical world to redefine the concept of infinity to be either endless or unbounded.  In 1855, By orders of the King of Hanover, the official court sculptor arrived at the home of the ailing Gauss to start work on a medallion. After he died on February 23, a plaque based on this medallion was placed on his tombstone. Later, in 1877, a medal was issued bearing the phrase, “Mathematicorum principi” (to the Prince of Mathematicians), and ever since Gauss has been known by this name.  (See MathDL for details.)

January 12:

Birthdays: Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro (1853-1925)

Deaths: Pierre de Fermat (1601-1665);  Hermann Minkowski (1864 – 1909)

January 14:

Deaths: Kurt Godel (1906-1978), Edmond Halley (1656-1742), Charles Hermite (1822-1901)

January 15:

Math News: In 1827, Gauss writes to his friend Schumacher stating that their published ideas (on non-Euclidean geometry) were “besmirched with mud” by critics.  It should be noted that while Gauss developed his ideas of non-Euclidean geometry extensively, he only mentioned his ideas publicly once in a book review in 1816.  (See MathDL for details.)

January 16:

Math News: In 1826, Abel writes to Holmboe stating that “The divergent series are the invention of the devil, and it is a shame to base on them any demonstration whatsoever.”  In 1865, The London Mathematical Society was founded.  (See MathDL for details.)

January 17:

Birthdays: Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), D.R. Kaprekar (1905-1986)  Click here to see my post on Kaprekar’s Routine.

January 18:

Math News: In 1802, Gauss reads in the newspaper that Olbers has rediscovered the asteroid Ceres.  Gauss then writes to Olbers asking for the data from his observations.  (See MathDL for details)

Birthdays: Luigi Bianchi (1856-1928), Paul Ehrenfest (1880-1933)

January 19:

Deaths: Frank Ramsey (1903-1930)

January 20:

Birthdays: Andre Ampere (1775-1836)

January 22:

Deaths: Camille Jordan (1838-1922)

January 23:

Birthdays: David Hilbert (1862-1943)

January 24:

Birthdays: Abram Samoilovitch Besicovitch (1891-1970)

January 25:

Birthdays: Robert Boyle (1627-1691), Joseph-Louis Lagrange (1736-1813)

January 26:

Deaths: Arthur Cayley (1821-1895), Felix Hausdorff (1868-1942)

January 27:

Birthdays: Charles Lutwidge Dodgson a.k.a. Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)

Deaths: Janos Bolyai (1802-1860), Richard Courant (1888-1972)

January 28:

Birthdays: Ludolph von Ceulen (1540-1610), Louis Joel Mordell (1888-1972)

January 29:

Math News: In 1697, Newton receives two problems from Johann Bernoulli (one of which was the famous Brachistochrone Problem).  These problems were meant to both taunt Newton and to challenge his new calculus. Newton solved them both within a day’s time.  (See MathDL for details.)

January 31:

Math News: In 1802, Gauss is elected as a member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences.  (See MathDL for details.)

Birthdays: Giovanni Fagnano (1715-1797)

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