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On This Day

  • 10-31-1903

    Frank N. Cole, at a New York meeting of the American Mathematical Society, presented a paper "On the factoring of large numbers." He spoke not a word, but carefully raised 2 to the 67th power, then subtracted one. Moving over, he computed 193,707,721 times 761,838,257,287. The calculations agreed, showing that this number is not a Mersenne prime. In 1911, E. T. Bell asked Cole how long it had taken him to find this factorization. He replied, "Three years of Sundays."

    More information about:
    Frank Cole
    Mersenne Primes
  • 10-31-1915

    Closing date for a prize consisting of a gold medal bearing a portrait of Weierstrass and 3000 Swedish crowns, for the best essay on the theory of analytic functions. King Gustav V of Sweden founded the prize to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Weierstrass.

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    Karl Weierstrass
  • 10-31-1936

    Caltech students test-fired a homemade rocket in a dry river bed near campus. Their professor, Theodore von Karman, named the tar paper shacks the students set up in the riverbed as they continued their experiments the "Jet Propulsion Laboratory." The leader of the student group, Frank Malina, eventually became director of JPL. (Los Angeles Times, 10/20/11)

    More information about:
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory History
    California Institute of Technology
    Theodore von Karman
  • 10-31-1952

    First hydrogen bomb was exploded from a tower 20 feet above the Elugelab Atoll at the Eniwetok Proving Grounds in the Marshall Islands.

    More information about:
    The Nuclear Arms Race