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On This Day

  • 7-2-1621

    Thomas Harriot died in London, England. He suffered from a cancerous ulcer of the left nostril. While in America in 1585-1586, Harriot learned to "drink" tobacco smoke. This probably makes him the earliest recorded tobacco fatality. He is best known for his contributions to algebra, including the invention of the symbols for less than and greater than we use today.

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    Thomas Harriot
  • 7-2-1850

    Stokes' theorem appeared for the first time as a postscript to a letter from Sir William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) to Stokes. It first appeared publicly as Question 8 on the Smith's Prize exam for 1854. Stokes drew up this competitive exam, which was taken by the best mathematics students at Cambridge University. By the time Stokes died, the theorem was universally known as "Stokes' theorem."

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    George Stokes
    Stokes' Theorem
    William Thomson (Lord Kelvin)
  • 7-2-1852

    William Burnside, whose Theory of Groups (1897, 1911) is now a classic, was born in London, England. His suspicion that every group of odd order is solvable was proved in 1962 by W. Feit and J. G. Thompson.

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    William Burnside
    Walter Feit
    John G. Thompson