Friday, November 30, 2007

Eureka! The Results Are In! The Winners Are...

Ok, the secret's out. Start ordering your
Archimedes and Eureka -- Nature Abhors a Vacuum T-Shirts.

It was a difficult decision, but the results are in (although we still haven''t heard from Palm Beach County). The top 3 submissions based on the logb2(b6) entries in the first ever MathNotations: Name that Mathematician Challenge are -- in no particular order --

Eric Jablow

I came in a distant 4th (I am going to appeal this). Of course, it was only fitting that I chose the 'Arc-Man' to lead off, since one of my personal favorite posts of all time came earlier this year:
The Genius of Archimedes: Parabolas, Tangents, ....
Anyone recall I attempted my first complicated diagram, suggesting how Archimedes proved that light emanating from the focus of a parabolic surface are reflected in parallel rays (and conversely)?

By the way, one of the better explanations for kids of his discovery of the displacement principle can be found here.

Ok, here are the details:
Mathmom found the following fascinating fact here:
Archimedes invented a puzzle called the Loculus (or the Stomachion,
the Ostomachion, the Syntemachion, or Archimedes' Box). It's like a
huge, complex, tangram. In November of 2003, Bill Cutler used a computer program to enumerate all solutions. Barring rotations and reflections, there are 536
distinct solutions.

Eric actually used something called a book (for youngsters out there, here is a link to explain the meaning of this obsolete term) to find the following information about Archimedes' perspective on pure math vs. science:

ARCHIMEDES OF SYRACUSE (c. 287-212 B.C.), son of an astronomer, was
Greece's star mathematician. By avocation he desired the pursuit of
mathematics proper, and he was wholly and passionately committed to
mathematics at its "purist." But by world reputation he was an
engineer, especially in the field of military engines, even if he
protested that he derived no satisfaction from this kind of work. And
when confronted with the problem of determining whether a golden crown
was made of pure gold or was alloyed with silver, he initiated the
method of Hydrostatics for the purpose.

Scientist-professors will always be the same. Archimedes, when
heading the Weapons Research Group for the Syracuse Department of
Defense, would write letters to friends that he was yearning to return
to the Campus and do nothing but pure research for its own sake. But
he was apparently doing classified work to his last breath, literally
so. And when he found his theorem on Hydrostatics he was so excited
that he insisted on talking about it to the man in the street.

I won't actually publish tc's joke regarding one of Archimedes' engineering feats (young children might find their way to this blog), so I will leave it up to my readers to invent their own...

Finally, I promise, from now on, not to the use the name of the mathematician in labeling the image file! Duh...


Anonymous said...

Another little known fact about Archimedes: He is one of the few ancient Greek mathematicians (or for that case, any person who lived BCE) to be part of a joke involving a Bollywood actress.

When Archimedes met Rekha, the well-known Bollywood actress (obviously, through time travel), he reportedly said, 'Me Archimedes, You Rekha.'

mathmom said...

Eric actually used something called a book

...and, does this book have a name? author? publisher? When I was in school "a book" wasn't considered a very complete citation. ;-)

And I'll add a loud groan for the Rekha joke above. :-P I think I would've liked tc's better. ;-)

Dave Marain said...

Here's the reference to Eric's book:

Salomon Bochner, "The Role of Mathematics and the Rise of Science", p.209-310, [Princeton University Press,
Princeton, 1966], ISBN 0-691-02371-9

As far as tc's joke is concerned, I will email it to the first (2^(-1))^)(-1) who request it by personal email!

Ernest said...

haha, I read all of this, but I believe some of the greatest minds in our era come from those who keep Blogs and updated websites cause theres The Cyber Professor as opposed to Archimedes.

But I do think bollywood actress Rekha is a goddess!