# Tag Info

19

Yes the stories of Pythagoras that were common a few decades ago have all been been disproved, largely by Walter Burkert in Lore and Science in Ancient Pythagoreanism (1972). In short, Pythagoras never thought about any of the mathematics attributed to him. Consequently he gave no mathematical theory of music, never said all is number, and never ...

18

Note: I present here some information defending Millikan, but please note that I do not necessarily agree with the article it came from. From the feature article "In Defense of Robert Andrews Millikan" by David Goodstein (American Scientist, January-February 2001): Awkwardly, an examination of Millikan's private laboratory notebooks indicates ...

15

In Millikan's publications, he stated categorically that every single oil drop observed had had a charge that was a multiple of $e$, with no exceptions or omissions. But his notebooks are full of notations such as "beautiful data, keep," and "bad run, throw out." Richard Feynman wrote an essay called "Cargo Cult Science," in ...

15

This story bears characteristic signs of a tall tale, although in this case one can identify the origin. It appears to be an amalgamation of two anecdotes, neither of which is itself very credible. Both are traceable to Warren McCulloch, Pitts's co-author on "A Logical Calculus of Ideas Immanent in Nervous Activity" (1943), which proposed the first ...

14

Of course, the naive description as many heard it (which includes Newton having an apple fall on his head) is not true. There also does not exist any known source where Newton discusses anything about apples, and how they relate to his thoughts on gravitation. However, there are multiple secondary sources, providing accounts of a related 'apple incident', ...

12

The question is whether there ever existed a portrait of Hooke. There is very little evidence to support this: 1) Hooke mentions a certain 'Mr Bonust' in his diary. In an entry for 16 October 1674 he wrote 'At Garaways. Left off taking tobacco — Mr Bonust drew picture.' The name might refer to a certain Mr Bownest. However, if he did draw Hooke’s ...

12

This is almost certainly intended to be an image of Euclid of Alexandria, not of Euclid of Megara. The image was painted by Justus van Gent, who lived in the 15th century. Among his most famous works is a series of pictures of 28 famous people in history, the uomini famosi ("Famous Men") in approximately 1475. As you can guess, this image was among them. ...

12

Sounds like we're all on the same page. But FWIW: In all my research for that Planck book (2015), I found no evidence that he was commissioned, contracted or paid by light bulb (or similar) companies in the 1890's for his theoretical work. Please note I'm not a proper historian, but I did, for instance, go through a number of German historical works on the ...

11

Bjerknes cites a letter from Abel to Christopher Hansteen, a fellow professor of Bjerknes at Christiania/Oslo, who had put up and mentored Abel in the beginning of his career. Den omgangskreds af aeldre, hvortil han hörte, var vel selvfölgelig heller ikke sa enthusiastisk Gauss-stemt som Berlinerungsdommen. Sjelden er det derhos, at ikke den stigende ros og ...

11

We have very few information regarding the author of the Elements, called Euclid of Alexandria. See Euclid, The Thirteen Books of the Elements, Vol. 1 : Books 1-2 (ed. T.Heath, Dover reprint), page 1-on : As in the case of the other great mathematicians of Greece, so in Euclid's case, we have on eagre particulars of the life and personality of the man. ...

10

From the article "Astrology", by Sheila J. Rabin, in Encyclopedia of the Scientific Revolution from Copernicus to Newton, p.77: In fact, astrology was part of the mathematics curriculum of every Western university from their founding in the twelfth century to the seventeenth century, and mathematicus was a synonym for astrologer Lynn Thorndike's ...

10

Wikipedia also says:"this is not a quote by Gauss, but is (a translation of) the end of a sentence from the biography of Eisenstein by Moritz Cantor (1877), one of Gauss's last students and a historian of mathematics, who was summarizing his recollection of a remark made by Gauss about Eisenstein in a conversation many years earlier". Human memory is tricky ...

10

This is all I have found for now: “You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live, not knowing, than to have answers which might be wrong.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1tKEvN3DF0 as discussed here: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Richard_Feynman#....

10

"The Rutherford planetary model" was not exactly... anything, it was a vague umbrella term. The inspection of Rutherford's 1911 paper shows that Rutherford did not propose even one of the three OP versions. What he did propose, that there is a positively charged nucleus, does not distinguish among them. He did assume that the electron cloud was ...

9

Our recent edition of Christian Goldbach's correspondence with Leonhard Euler (Leonhardi Euleri Opera Omnia, series IVA, vol.4, Springer: Basel, 2015) has a short biography of Goldbach (Introduction 1.1, p.3-12); thus I had reason to check again whether an authentic portrait might exist. I still haven't found one, but besides the Grassmann photograph - ...

9

Weber was a pretty reliable witness. Probably Kronecker did tell the 1886 Berliner Naturforscher-Versammlung something like "the whole numbers were made by dear God (der liebe Gott), the rest is the work of man." But Kronecker also published his endorsement of Gauss saying the opposite: The principal difference between geometry and mechanics on one ...

9

Apparently, Cauchy did not even forget or lose at least the papers of Galois. This is yet another example of how E.T. Bell and his Men of Mathematics, for all its literary virtues, are unreliable historical sources. See What resources are available for lives of recent mathematicians besides E.T. Bell's Men of Mathematics? for more on E.T. Bell and his ...

9

No, I assure you, this nonsense was not taught at schools, at least in Soviet Union (I am not sure what is possible in Russia now). This is just a typical Russian "pop historian" interpretation, a genre pseudo-history quite popular with some Russian circles. In general V.I.Arnold's writing on history (including history of mathematics) cannot be taken ...

9

Yes, indeed when trying to obtain the law of falling bodies, Galileo's first conjecture was that the speed is proportional to the distance traveled. After some contemplation, Galileo understood that this cannot be the case and eventually came with the correct law. Good source on Galileo: S. Drake, Galileo at work. (There are many editions).

9

I am afraid there is no original source. Wikipedia has talk pages where sourcing is discussed, and its editors did extensive searches on this one and its variants. It is listed under the heading Unsourced and dubious/overly modern sources, and the "original" appears to have been made up by Ram Dass around 1970. Dass (born Richard Alpert) is an ...

9

It is a fun method but it appears to be very recent. It is characterized as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, or even Mayan method in various internet posts, all of them recent, and without attribution, naturally. The "ancient origin" story is most likely made up, it is reminiscent of the Lucas's towers of Hanoi hoax, still credited on the internet to the "...

8

"In 1694, a famous discussion between two of the leading scientists of the day - Isaac Newton and David Gregory - took place on the campus of Cambridge University. Their dispute concerned the "kissing problem."" So starts Newton and the Kissing Problem chapter from Szpiro's book Kepler's Conjecture. Pretty much so start (and quickly end) most descriptions of ...

8

The closest to an attribution that I could find is by Matt Calhoun on Math SE, who claims "it was personally told to me" by "my mechanics professor (G. Horton) [who] took lectures from Pauli..." G. Horton is presumably George Horton who held a physics post-doc in Zurich in 1949-51. Pauli stayed in Zurich from 1946 until his death in 1958, so they did ...

8

It is interesting that even many of those who retell the anecdote immediately disown it "The following anecdote about him is probably fabricated, but it makes an interesting probability problem", says Actuarial Outpost. Oloffson who like Mlodinov even put it into his book (p.203), writes "Although the anecdote illustrates a clever way to use probabilities to ...

7

It seems incredibly unlikely that Gauss was (in a serious way) accused of witchcraft for his contributions to linear algebra. Instead of trying to look for anecdotal evidence, we can reason from general historical context. Firstly, note that it is easily found on Wikipedia that witch-hunts were mostly a thing of the 17th century and before, and instances ...

7

My answer is based on guesses, not on knowledge of original work. Those years were the years were polyhedra were studied in connection with the problem of understanding to what extent Euler's formula $V-L+F=2$ was valid. In particular it was clear that there were some exceptions to the rule that needed, in the prevalent opinion, not be considered as ...

7

The name of the theorem (that centers of equilateral triangles erected externally on the sides of a triangle form another equilateral triangle) does refer to the famous French general and later emperor, which likely contributed to its popularity. However, its earliest attribution to him comes from an Italian textbook of elementary geometry by Faifofer ...

7

After looking into more reputable sources it seems that the "commissioned by electricity companies" is a confabulation, and the "commissioned by the German Bureau of Standards" is closer to the truth but still a huge stretch. In Kuhn's Black-Body Theory and the Quantum Discontinuity, 1894-1912, which devotes two chapters to Planck's ...

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