Sir Patrick Moore CBE FRS FRAS

Writer, Amateur Astronomer and Television personality Sir Patrick Moore CBE FRS FRAS, sadly passed away on 9th December 2012 aged 89. He was Born 4 March 1923, in Pinner, Middlesex, on March 4 1923, and was the son of Captain Charles Caldwell-Moore, MC. Later the family moved to Sussex, where Patrick was to live for the rest of his life. He was educated at home owing to ill health, and wrote his first scientific paper at the age of 13 — his chosen subject was the features in a lunar crater he had seen through a small telescope. At the end of 1941 he joined the RAF to train for aircrew duties during World War II; however his fiancée was killed by a bomb during the war. during 1943 left for Canada for training as a navigator. He was commissioned in June 1944 and completed his training at a bomber conversion unit at Lossiemouth in northern Scotland but, due to epilepsy, was declared medically unfit for further flying duties and He left the Service in 1947.

From 1952 he was a freelance writer until One day in 1957 the BBC broadcast a somewhat sensationalist programme about flying saucers. Producers wanted a counterview by a “thoroughly reactionary and sceptical astronomer who knew some science and could talk”, consequently The Sky at Night was born, and it went on to become the world’s longest-running television series with the same original presenter & attracted millions of viewers. Moore’s Idiosyncrasies such as his rapid diction and monocle made him a popular and instantly recognisable figure on British television, where he became celebrated for the thunderous fervour with which he would utter the words: “We just don’t know!” to emphasise that our comprehension of the universe is incomplete. The secret of the program’s success lay not only in his tremendous learnedness but also in his gusto and humour & he soon attained a prominent status as a writer, researcher, radio commentator and television presenter and did more than anyone, with the possible exception of Arthur C Clarke, to educate the British public about astronomy and space travel.He would also happily appear on chat shows, quiz shows and comedy shows, among them The Goodies; Morecambe and Wise; Blankety Blank, and Have I Got News For You. He even starred in digitised form on the children’s video game show GamesMaster.moore was also a connoisseur of music, and sometimes played a xylophone on television. He also wrote the score for an opera about Theseus and the Minotaur. He was a keen sportsman too – particularly on the cricket pitch, where he proved a demon spin bowler. He also played golf and once at his local course set a club record – of 231, including a 43 on the third hole. Chess was another passion (he often carried with him a pocket chess set) and even dabbled in politics.

In 1982 he wrote a humorous but inflammatory book called Bureaucrats: How to Annoy Them. It advised that imposing a thin layer of candle grease on those parts of a form marked “for official use only” would prevent the recipient from writing anything and probably drive him mad. “Useful when dealing with the Inland Revenue,” said Moore. He was also A keen pipe smoker & was elected Pipeman of the Year in 1983. In addition to his many popular science books, he wrote numerous works of fiction. Moore was an opponent of fox hunting, an outspoken critic of the European Union and served as chairman of the short-lived anti-immigration United Country Party. After his fiancee was killed during World War II, he never married or had children.

Moore was also a former president of the British Astronomical Association, co-founder and former president of the Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA), author of over 70 books most of them about astronomy, As an amateur astronomer, he became known as a specialist on observing the Moon and creating the Caldwell catalogue. In 2002 Moore was appointed honorary vice-president of the Society for the History of Astronomy. He also won a Bafta for his services to television. He also continued to publish books to the end of his life. Recent titles include Patrick Moore on the Moon (2000, new edition 2006); The Data Book of Astronomy (2001); Patrick Moore: the autobiography (2005); Asteroid (with Arthur C Clarke, 2005); Stars of Destiny (2005); Ancient Lights (2008); and Can You Play Cricket on Mars? (2009). This year alone he published Astronomy with a Budget Telescope: An Introduction to Practical Observing; The Sky at Night: Answers to Questions from Across the Universe; Miaow!: Cats really are nicer than people!; and The New Astronomy Guide: Star Gazing in the Digital Age.

During his distinguished career Sir Patrick Moore received many honours. In 1968 he was appointed OBE then CBE in 1988 and finally knighted in 2001 .In 1982 a minor planet was named after him by the International Astronomical Union. He also held the posts of president of the British Astronomical Association and director of the Armagh Planetarium in Northern Ireland. Yet the Royal Society refused to elect him as a Fellow — one of their number declared that he had committed the ultimate sin of “making science popular”. In 2001, however, he was elected to an honorary Fellowship.


Microwave Oven Day

Microwave Oven day takes place annually on 6 December. Microwave oven day commemorates the occasion when, Quite by accident, self- taught American engineer Percy Spencer discovered in 1945 a way to heat food safely with microwaves whilst working with an active radar for the company Raytheon when he noticed that a candy bar in his pocket had begun melting whilst he was near the radar. Spencer then began experimenting and deliberately attempted cooking popcorn with the microwaves and then he tried an egg. Unfortunately The egg exploded in his fellow engineer’s face! Spencer, then started experimenting with different methods of heating food safely with microwaves.

A microwave oven heats and cooks food by exposing it to electromagnetic radiation in the microwave frequency range This induces polar molecules in the food to rotate and produce thermal energy in a process known as dielectric heating. Microwave ovens heat foods quickly and efficiently because excitation is fairly uniform in the outer 25–38 mm (1–1.5 inches) of a homogeneous, high water content food item; food is more evenly heated throughout than generally occurs in other cooking techniques.

The development of the cavity magnetron in the UK made possible the production of electromagnetic waves of a small enough wavelength (microwaves). American engineer Percy Spencer is generally credited with inventing the modern microwave oven after World War II from radar technology developed during the war. Named the “Radarange”, it was first sold in 1946. Raytheon later licensed its patents for a home-use microwave oven that was first introduced by Tappan in 1955, but these units were still too large and expensive for general home use. Sharp Corporation introduced the first microwave oven with a turntable between 1964 and 1966. The countertop microwave oven was first introduced in 1967 by the Amana Corporation. After Sharp introduced low-cost microwave ovens affordable for residential use in the late 1970s, their use spread into commercial and residential kitchens around the world. In addition to their use in cooking food, types of microwave ovens are used for heating in many industrial processes.

Since then Microwave ovens have become common kitchen appliance and are popular for reheating previously cooked foods and cooking a variety of foods. They are also useful for rapid heating of otherwise slowly prepared foodstuffs, which can easily burn or turn lumpy when cooked in conventional pans, such as hot butter, fats, chocolate or porridge. Unlike conventional ovens, microwave ovens usually do not directly brown or caramelize food, since they rarely attain the necessary temperatures to produce Maillard reactions. Exceptions occur in rare cases where the oven is used to heat frying-oil and other very oily items (such as bacon), which attain far higher temperatures than that of boiling water. However Microwave ovens have limited roles in professional cooking, because the boiling-range temperatures of a microwave will not produce the flavorful chemical reactions that frying, browning, or baking at a higher temperature will. However, additional heat sources can be added to microwave ovens.

Microwave cooking is thought to be less healthy than normal cooking although All forms of cooking Have an effect on food and nutrients, Any form of cooking will destroy some nutrients in food, but the key variables are how much water is used in the cooking, how long the food is cooked, and at what temperature. Nutrients are primarily lost by leaching into cooking water, which tends to make microwave cooking healthier, given the shorter cooking times it requires. Like other heating methods, microwaving converts vitamin B12 from an active to inactive form; the amount of conversion depends on the temperature reached, as well as the cooking time. Boiled food reaches a maximum of 100 °C (212 °F) (the boiling point of water), whereas microwaved food can get locally hotter than this, leading to faster breakdown of vitamin B12. The higher rate of loss is partially offset by the shorter cooking times required.

Spinach retains nearly all its folate when cooked in a microwave; in comparison, it loses about 77% when boiled, leaching out nutrients. Bacon cooked by microwave has significantly lower levels of carcinogenic nitrosamines than conventionally cooked bacon. Steamed vegetables tend to maintain more nutrients when microwaved than when cooked on a stovetop. Microwave blanching is 3–4 times more effective than boiled water blanching in the retaining of the water-soluble vitamins folic acid, thiamin and riboflavin, with the exception of ascorbic acid, of which 28.8% is lost (vs. 16% with boiled water blanching). Microwaving human milk at high temperatures is not recommended as it causes a marked decrease in activity of anti-infective factors.

A safety benefit of using microwave oven is that Microwave ovens heat food without getting hot themselves. Taking a pot off a stove, unless it is an induction cooktop, leaves a potentially dangerous heating element or trivet that will stay hot for some time. Likewise, when taking a casserole out of a conventional oven, one’s arms are exposed to the very hot walls of the oven. A microwave oven does not pose this problem.

Food and cookware taken out of a microwave oven are rarely much hotter than 100 °C (212 °F). Cookware used in a microwave oven is often much cooler than the food because the cookware is transparent to microwaves; the microwaves heat the food directly and the cookware is indirectly heated by the food. Food and cookware from a conventional oven, on the other hand, are the same temperature as the rest of the oven; a typical cooking temperature is 180 °C (356 °F). That means that conventional stoves and ovens can cause more serious burns.

The lower temperature of cooking (the boiling point of water) is a significant safety benefit compared to baking in the oven or frying, because it eliminates the formation of tars and char, which are carcinogenic.[49] Microwave radiation also penetrates deeper than direct heat, so that the food is heated by its own internal water content. In contrast, direct heat can burn the surface while the inside is still cold. Pre-heating the food in a microwave oven before putting it into the grill or pan reduces the time needed to heat up the food and reduces the formation of carcinogenic char. Unlike frying and baking, microwaving does not produce acrylamide in potatoes, however unlike deep-frying, it is of only limited effectiveness in reducing glycoalkaloid (i.e. solanine) levels. Acrylamide has been found in other microwaved products like popcorn.

There are also hazards to using a Microwave oven these include the superheating of Water and other homogeneous liquids when heated in a microwave oven in a container with a smooth surface when the liquid reaches a temperature slightly above its normal boiling point without bubbles of vapour forming inside the liquid. The boiling process can start explosively when the liquid is disturbed, such as when the user takes hold of the container to remove it from the oven or while adding solid ingredients such as powdered creamer or sugar. This can result in spontaneous boiling (nucleation) which may be violent enough to eject the boiling liquid from the container and cause severe scalding.

Closed containers, such as eggs, can explode when heated in a microwave oven due to the increased pressure from steam. Intact fresh egg yolks outside the shell will also explode, as a result of superheating. Insulating plastic foams of all types generally contain closed air pockets, and are generally not recommended for use in a microwave, as the air pockets explode and the foam (which can be toxic if consumed) may melt. Not all plastics are microwave-safe, and some plastics absorb microwaves to the point that they may become dangerously hot. Products that are heated for too long can catch fire. Though this is inherent to any form of cooking, the rapid cooking and unattended nature of the use of microwave ovens results in additional hazard.

Microwaving metal objects is also dangerous as any metal or conductive object placed into the microwave will act as an antenna to some degree, resulting in an electric current. This causes the object to act as a heating element. This effect varies with the object’s shape and composition, and is sometimes utilized for cooking.

Any object containing pointed metal can create an electric arc (sparks) when microwaved. This includes cutlery, crumpled aluminium foil (though some foil used in microwaves are safe, see below), twist-ties containing metal wire, the metal wire carry-handles in paper Chinese take-out food containers, or almost any metal formed into a poorly conductive foil or thin wire; or into a pointed shape. Forks are a good example: the tines of the fork respond to the electric field by producing high concentrations of electric charge at the tips. This has the effect of exceeding the dielectric breakdown of air, about 3 megavolts per meter (3×106 V/m). The air forms a conductive plasma, which is visible as a spark. The plasma and the tines may then form a conductive loop, which may be a more effective antenna, resulting in a longer lived spark. When dielectric breakdown occurs in air, some ozone and nitrogen oxides are formed, both of which are unhealthy in large quantities.

Direct microwave exposure is also dangerous but is not generally possible, as microwaves emitted by the source in a microwave oven are confined in the oven by the material out of which the oven is constructed ovens are equipped with redundant safety interlocks, which remove power from the magnetron if the door is opened.  According to the United States Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, a U.S. Federal Standard limits the amount of microwaves that can leak from an oven throughout its lifetime to 5 milliwatts of microwave radiation per square centimeter at approximately 5 cm (2 in) from the surface of the oven. This is far below the exposure level currently considered to be harmful to human health.

Other events occurring on 6 December

Mitten Tree Day
National Miners Day
National Gazpacho Day
National Pawnbrokers Day
Put On Your Own Shoes Day
St. Nicholas Day

Computer Security Day

Computer security day takes place annually on 30 November. The purpose of Computer Security day is is to educate people concerning the threat of computor hacking, Phishing and Scamming, to raise awareness about computer security, and highlight measures that can be taken to keep your computer data safe from undesirable prying eyes.

In this modern age electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers are playing an increasingly important role of our everyday lives. While communication has become easier and more efficient than ever before, these technological advancements have also brought with them new concerns about privacy and security.

Computer Security Day began in 1988, around the time that computers were becoming commonplace, even if they were yet to become ubiquitous in homes. The 1980s saw not only increased usage of computers, especially in business and government, and the internet was in its early stages. While hacking and viruses have virtually been around since the early days of modern computing, evolving and increasingly sophisticated technologies began to see more applications, and therefore more security risks due to the simple fact that more data was at risk as computers found their way into banks, government offices, and businesses. As More important data got stored on computers and servers this meant more valuable information for hackers, resulting in higher profile cases of security breaches so, online security became an important concern by the end of the decade.

Ada Lovelace (Enchantress of Numbers)

The Analyst, Metaphysician, and Founder of Scientific Computing, Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace Sadly passed away on November 27, 1852, in Marylebone at the age of 37, from Cancer. Born Augusta Ada Byron on 10th December 1815. She was the daughter of Lord Byron and is remembered as a mathematician and writer chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine. Because of this, she is often considered the world’s first computer programmer and left a legacy as role model for young women entering technology careers. Ada was the only legitimate child born to the poet Lord Byron and Anne Isabella Byron). She had no relationship with her father, who separated from her mother just a month after Ada was born, and four months later he left England forever and died in Greece in 1823 leaving her mother to raise her single-handedly, Her life was an apotheosis of struggle between emotion and reason, subjectivism and objectivism, poetics and mathematics, ill health and bursts of energy.

Lady Byron wished her daughter to be unlike her poetic father, and she saw to it that Ada received tutoring in mathematics and music, as disciplines to counter dangerous poetic tendencies. But Ada’s complex inheritance became apparent as early as 1828, when she produced the design for a flying machine. As a young adult, she took an interest in mathematics, and in particular that of Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge, Charles Babbage whom she met met in 1833, when she was just 17, who was one of the gentlemanly scientists of the era and become Ada’s lifelong friend. Babbage, was known as the inventor of the Difference Engine, an elaborate calculating machine that operated by the method of finite differences , and they began a voluminous correspondence on the topics of mathematics, logic, and many other subjects.

In 1835, Ada married William King, ten years her senior, and when King inherited a noble title in 1838, they became the Earl and Countess of Lovelace. Ada had three children. The family and its fortunes were very much directed by Lady Byron, whose domineering was rarely opposed by King. Babbage had made plans in 1834 for a new kind of calculating machine (although the Difference Engine was not finished), an Analytical Engine. His Parliamentary sponsors refused to support a second machine with the first unfinished, but Babbage found sympathy for his new project abroad. In 1842, an Italian mathematician, Louis Menebrea, published a memoir in French on the subject of the Analytical Engine. Babbage enlisted Ada as translator for the memoir, and during a nine-month period in 1842-43, she worked feverishly on the article and a set of Notes she appended to it. These notes contain what is considered the first computer program — that is, an algorithm encoded for processing by a machine. Ada’s notes are important in the early history of computers. She also foresaw the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching while others, including Babbage himself, focused only on these capabilities

Ada called herself an Analyst & Metaphysician, and the combination was put to use in the Notes. She understood the plans for the device as well as Babbage but was better at explaining uses for the device. She rightly saw it as what we would call a general-purpose computer. It was suited for “developing and tabulating any function whatever. . . the engine is the material expression of any indefinite function of any degree of generality and complexity.” Her Notes also anticipated future developments, including computer-generated music. Her contributions to science and fascination for Babbage’s Difference Engine earned her the nickname “Enchantress of Numbers.”

Fibonacci Day

Fibonacci day takes place annually on 23 November. This is due to the fact that when the date is written in the mm/dd format (11/23), the digits in the date form a Fibonacci sequence: 1,1,2,3. Fibonacci is considered to be “the most talented Western mathematician of the Middle Ages. He was born around1175 to Guglielmo, a wealthy Italian merchant and, by some accounts, the consul for Pisa. Guglielmo directed a trading post in Bugia, a port in the Almohad dynasty’s sultanate in North Africa. Fibonacci travelled with him as a young boy, and it was in Bugia (now Béjaïa, Algeria) that he learned about the Hindu–Arabic numeral system. Fibonacci travelled extensively around the Mediterranean coast, meeting with many merchants and learning about their systems of doing arithmetic. He soon realised the many advantages of the Hindu-Arabic system. In 1202, he completed the Liber Abaci (Book of Abacus or Book of Calculation) which popularized Hindu–Arabic numerals in Europe.

In the Liber Abaci (1202), Fibonacci introduced the so-called modus Indorum (method of the Indians), today known as the Hindu–Arabic numeral system.[14][15] The book advocated numeration with the digits 0–9 and place value. The book showed the practical use and value of the new Hindu-Arabic numeral system by applying the numerals to commercial bookkeeping, converting weights and measures, calculation of interest, money-changing, and other applications. The book was well-received throughout educated Europe and had a profound impact on European thought. The Liber Abaci also posed, and solved, a problem involving the growth of a population of rabbits based on idealized assumptions. The solution, generation by generation, was a sequence of numbers later known as Fibonacci numbers. Although Fibonacci’s Liber Abaci contains the earliest known description of the sequence outside of India, the sequence had been noted by Indian mathematicians as early as the sixth century.

In the Fibonacci sequence of numbers, each number is the sum of the previous two numbers. Fibonacci began the sequence not with 0, 1, 1, 2, as modern mathematicians do but with 1, 1, 2, etc. He carried the calculation up to the thirteenth place (fourteenth in modern counting), that is 233, though another manuscript carries it to the next place: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377. Fibonacci did not speak about the golden ratio as the limit of the ratio of consecutive numbers in this sequence

The 1228 edition, first section introduces the Hindu-Arabic numeral system and compares the system with other systems, such as Roman numerals, and methods to convert the other numeral systems into Hindu-Arabic numerals. Replacing the Roman numeral system, its ancient Egyptian multiplication method, and using an abacus for calculations, with a Hindu-Arabic numeral system was an advance in making business calculations easier and faster, which led to the growth of banking and accounting in Europe

Fibonacci became a guest of Emperor Frederick II, who enjoyed mathematics and science. In 1240, the Republic of Pisa honored Fibonacci (referred to as Leonardo Bigollo) by granting him a salary in a decree that recognized him for the services that he had given to the city as an advisor on matters of accounting and instruction to citizens. The name, “Fibonacci” was made up in 1838 by the Franco-Italian historian Guillaume Libri and is short for filius Bonacci (“son of (the) Bonacci”) and he is also known as Leonardo Bonacci, Leonardo of Pisa, Leonardo Pisano Bigollo, or Leonardo Fibonacci.

The date of Fibonacci’s death is not known, but it has been estimated to be between around 1250. In the 19th century, a statue of Fibonacci was constructed and raised in Pisa. Today it is located in the western gallery of the Camposanto, historical cemetery on the Piazza dei Miracoli. There are also many mathematical concepts named after Fibonacci because of a connection to the Fibonacci numbers. Examples include the Brahmagupta–Fibonacci identity, the Fibonacci search technique, and the Pisano period. Beyond mathematics, namesakes of Fibonacci include the asteroid 6765 Fibonacci and the art rock band The Fibonaccis.

Edwin Hubble

American Astronomer Edwin Powell Hubble was born November 20, 1889 in Marshfield, Missouri, however his parents moved to Wheaton, Illinois, in 1900. In his younger days, he was noted more for his athletic prowess than his intellectual abilities, although he did earn good grades in every subject except for spelling. Edwin was a gifted athlete, playing baseball, football, basketball, and running track in both high school and college. He played a variety of positions on the basketball court from center to shooting guard. In fact, Hubble even led the University of Chicago’s basketball team to their first conference title in 1907. He won seven first places and a third place in a single high school track and field meet in 1906.

His studies at the University of Chicago were concentrated on law, which led to a bachelor of science degree in 1910. Hubble also became a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He spent the three years at The Queen’s College, Oxford after earning his bachelor’s as one of the university’s first Rhodes Scholars, initially studying jurisprudence instead of science (as a promise to his dying father), and later added literature and Spanish, and earning his master’s degree

In 1909, Hubble moved from Chicago to Shelbyville, Kentucky, so that the family could live in a small town, ultimately settling in nearby Louisville. His father died in the winter of 1913, while Edwin was still in England, and in the summer of 1913, Edwin returned to care for his mother, two sisters, and younger brother, as did his brother William. The family moved once more to Everett Avenue, in Louisville’s Highlands neighborhood, to accommodate Edwin and William.

Hubble’s father requested he study law, first at the University of Chicago and later at Oxford, though he managed to take a few math and science courses. After the death of his father in 1913, Edwin returned to the Midwest from Oxford but did not have the motivation to practice law. Instead, he proceeded to teach Spanish, physics and mathematics at New Albany High School in New Albany, Indiana, where he also coached the boys’ basketball team. After a year of high-school teaching, he entered graduate school with the help of his former professor from the University of Chicago to study astronomy at the university’s Yerkes Observatory, where he received his Ph.D. in 1917. His dissertation was titled “Photographic Investigations of Faint Nebulae”.In Yerkes, he had access to one of the most powerful telescopes in the world at the time, which had an innovative 24 inch (61 cm) reflector.

After the United States declared war on Germany in 1917, Hubble rushed to complete his Ph.D. dissertation so he could join the military. Hubble volunteered for the United States Army and was assigned to the newly created 86th Division, where he served in 2nd Battalion, 343 Infantry Regiment. He rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, and was found fit for overseas duty on July 9, 1918, but the 86th Division never saw combat. After the end of World War I, Hubble spent a year in Cambridge, where he renewed his studies of astronomy. In 1919, Hubble was offered a staff position at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Mount Wilson Observatory, near Pasadena, California, by George Ellery Hale, the founder and director of the observatory.

Edwin Hubble arrived at Mount Wilson Observatory, California in 1919 during the completion of the 100-inch (2.5 m) Hooker Telescope, then the world’s largest. At that time, the prevailing view of the cosmos was that the universe consisted entirely of the Milky Way Galaxy. Using the Hooker Telescope at Mt. Wilson, Hubble identified Cepheid variables (a kind of star that is used as a means to determine the distance from the galaxy. in several spiral nebulae, including the Andromeda Nebula and Triangulum. His observations, made in 1922–1923, proved conclusively that these nebulae were much too distant to be part of the Milky Way and were, in fact, entire galaxies outside our own. Immanuel Kant also wrote about it in the book General History of Nature and Theory of the Heavens in 1755

Hubble also worked as a civilian for U.S. Army at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland during World War II as the Chief of the External Ballistics Branch of the Ballistics Research Laboratory during which he directed a large volume of research in exterior ballistics which increased the effective firepower of bombs and projectiles. His work was facilitated by his personal development of several items of equipment for the instrumentation used in exterior ballistics, the most outstanding development being the high-speed clock camera, which made possible the study of the characteristics of bombs and low-velocity projectiles in flight. The results of his studies were credited with greatly improving design, performance, and military effectiveness of bombs and rockets. For his work there, he received the Legion of Merit award. Hubble remained on staff at Mount Wilson until his death

Sadly Hubble had a heart attack in July 1949 while on vacation in Colorado. He was taken care of by his wife, Grace Hubble, and continued on a modified diet and work schedule. He tragically died of cerebral thrombosis (a spontaneous blood clot in his brain) on September 28, 1953, in San Marino, California. No funeral was held for him, and his wife never revealed his burial site. Shortly before his death, Hubble became the first astronomer to use the newly completed giant 200-inch (5.1 m) reflector Hale Telescope at the Palomar Observatory near San Diego, California.

He leaves an important legacy after playing a crucial role in establishing the fields of extragalactic astronomy and observational cosmology. Hubble discovered that many objects previously thought to be clouds of dust and gas and classified as “nebulae” were actually galaxies beyond the Milky Way. He used the strong direct relationship between a classical Cepheid variable’s luminosity and pulsation period (discovered in 1908 by Henrietta Swan Leavitt for scaling galactic and extragalactic distance. Hubble also provided evidence that the recessional velocity of a galaxy increases with its distance from the earth, a property now known as “Hubble’s law”, despite the fact that it had been both proposed and demonstrated observationally two years earlier by Georges Lemaître. Hubble’s Law implies that the universe is expanding. Hubble’s name is most widely recognized for the Hubble Space Telescope which was named in his honor, with a model prominently displayed in his hometown of Marshfield, Missouri and Edwin Hubble is regarded as one of the most important astronomers of all time.

Benoît Mandelbrot

French American mathematician Benoît B. Mandelbrot was born 20 November 1924 in Poland, but moved to France with his family when he was a child. Mandelbrot spent much of his life living and working in the United States, and he acquired dual French and American citizenship. Mandelbrot worked on a wide range of mathematical problems, including mathematical physics and quantitative finance, but is best known as the popularizer of fractal geometry. He coined the term fractal and described the Mandelbrot set. Mandelbrot also wrote books and gave lectures aimed at the general public. Mandelbrot spent most of his career at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center, and was appointed as an IBM Fellow. He later became a Sterling Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Yale University, where he was the oldest professor in Yale’s history to receive tenure. Mandelbrot also held positions at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Université Lille Nord de France, Institute for Advanced Study and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.From 1951 onward, Mandelbrot worked on problems and published papers not only in mathematics but in applied fields such as information theory, economics, and fluid dynamics. He became convinced that two key themes, fat tails and self- similar structure, ran through a situation of problems encountered in those fields.

Mandelbrot found that price changes in financial markets did not follow a Gaussian distribution, but rather Lévy stable distributions having theoretically infinite variance. He found, for example, that cotton prices followed a Lévy stable distribution with parameter α equal to 1.7 rather than 2 as in a Gaussian distribution. “Stable” distributions have the property that the sum of many instances of a random variable follows the same distribution but with a larger scale parameter.Mandelbrot also put his ideas to work in cosmology. He offered in 1974 a new explanation of Olbers’ paradox (the “dark night sky” riddle), demonstrating the consequences of fractal theory as a sufficient, but not necessary, resolution of the paradox. He postulated that if the stars in the universe were fractally distributed (for example, like Cantor dust), it would not be necessary to rely on the Big Bang theory to explain the paradox. His model would not rule out a Big Bang, but would allow for a dark sky even if the Big Bang had not occurred. In 1975, Mandelbrot coined the term fractal to describe these structures, and published his ideas in Fractals: Form, Chance and Dimension.While at Harvard University in 1979, Mandelbrot began to study fractals called Julia sets that were invariant under certain transformations of the complex plane. Building on previous work by Gaston Julia and Pierre Fatou, Mandelbrot used a computer to plot images of the Julia sets of the formula z2 − μ. While investigating how the topology of these Julia sets depended on the complex parameter μ he studied the Mandelbrot set fractal that is now named after him. (Note that the Mandelbrot set is now usually defined in terms of the formula z2 + c, so Mandelbrot’s early plots in terms of the earlier parameter μ are left– right mirror images of more recent plots in terms of the parameter c.) In 1982, Mandelbrot expanded and updated his ideas in The Fractal Geometry of Nature. This influential work brought fractals into the mainstream of professional and popular mathematics, as well as silencing critics, who had dismissed fractals as “program artifacts”.

Mandelbrot left IBM in 1987, when IBM decided to end pure research in his division. He joined the Department of Mathematics at Yale, and obtained his first tenured post in 1999, at the age of 75. At the time of his retirement in 2005, he was Sterling Professor of Mathematical Sciences. His awards include the Wolf Prize for Physics in 1993, the Lewis Fry Richardson Prize of the European Geophysical Society in 2000, the Japan Prize in 2003, and the Einstein Lectureship of the American Mathematical Society in 2006.The small asteroid 27500 Mandelbrot was named in his honor. In November 1990, he was made a Knight in the French Legion of Honour. In December 2005, Mandelbrot was appointed to the position of Battelle Fellow at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Mandelbrot was promoted to Officer of the Legion of Honour in January 2006. An honorary degree from Johns Hopkins University was bestowed on Mandelbrot in the May 2010 commencement exercises. Although Mandelbrot coined the term fractal, some of the mathematical objects he presented in The Fractal Geometry of Nature had been previously described by other mathematicians. Before Mandelbrot, they had often been regarded as isolated curiosities with unnatural and non-intuitive properties. Mandelbrot brought these objects together for the first time and turned them into essential tools for the long-stalled effort to extend the scope of science to non-smooth objects in the real world. He highlighted their common properties, such as self-similarity (linear, non-linear, or statistical), scale invariance, and a (usually) non-integer Hausdorff dimension.He also emphasized the use of fractals as realistic and useful models of many “rough” phenomena in the real world. Natural fractals include the shapes of mountains, coastlines and river basins; the structures of plants, blood vessels and lungs; the clustering of galaxies; and Brownian motion. Fractals are found in human pursuits, such as music, art, architecture, and stock market prices. Mandelbrot believed that fractals, far from being unnatural, were in many ways more intuitive and natural than the artificially smooth objects of traditional Euclidean geometry.

Mandelbrot Sadly died in a hospice in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on 14th October 2010 from pancreatic cancer, at the age of 85. However his legacy lives on and he has been called a visionary and a maverick. His informed & passionate style of writing and his emphasis on visual and geometric intuition (supported bythe inclusion of numerous illustrations) made The Fractal Geometry of Nature accessible to non-specialists. The book sparked widespread popular interest in fractals and contributed to chaos theory and other fields of science and mathematics.When visiting the Museu de la Ciència de Barcelona in 1988, he told its director that the painting The Face of War had given him “the intuition about the transcendence of the fractal geometry when making intelligible the omnipresent similitude in the forms of nature”. He also said that, fractally, Gaudí was superior to Van der Rohe. The mathematician Heinz-Otto Peitgen said Mandelbrot’s impact inside mathematics, and applications in the sciences, made him one of the most important figures of the last 50 years.