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On This Day

  • 2-9-1775

    Farkas Bolyai born in Transylvania, Hungary. A mathematician in his own right, he may be best known as the father of Janos Bolyai, discoverer of non-Euclidean geometry.

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    Farkas Bolyai
  • 2-9-1883

    Henry John Stephen Smith died in Oxford, England. The Dublin-born mathematician posthumously received the Grand Prix des Sciences Mathematiques of the Paris Academy of Science for his proof that every positive integer is the sum of five squares. He shared the prize with eighteen year old Hermann Minkowski.

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    Henry Smith
    Hermann Minkowski
  • 2-9-1883

    The very first issue of Science was published. The first item in the "Weekly summary of the progress of science" contained a report by Thomas Craig that "Lindemann gave a proof of the fact that pi cannot be a root of an equation of any degree with rational co-efficients. This is a most remarkable paper, as it thus contains the first direct, absolute proof that has ever been given of the impossibility of the quadrature of the circle... Lindemann has certainly done a splendid piece of work in thus absolutely proving the impossibility of 'squaring the circle'; and it is only to be regretted that his work will not carry conviction to the minds of those mistaken individuals, the 'circle-squarers.' But it is hardly to be supposed that they will be convinced of the futility of their task, any more than the perpetual-motion inventors were convinced by the discovery and enunciation of the principles of the conservation of energy."

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    Ferdinand von Lindemann
    Quadrature of the Circle