Saturday, June 27, 2009

On June 27

On this day in ...
1831, Marie-Sophie Germain (right), French mathematician best known for her work in number theory, died in Paris. (image credit) Germain began teaching herself mathematics using her father's library when she was 13. Her parents felt that her interest was inappropriate and did all that they could to discourage her, though they relented in the face of her determination. Under the pseudonym M. LeBlanc, Sophie submitted a paper on analysis to Professor Joseph-Louis Lagrange of the École Polytechnique. Its originality and insight made Lagrange look for its author. When he discovered "M. LeBlanc" was a woman, his respect for her work remained, and he became her sponsor and mathematical counselor. In 1804, Germain began corresponding with the German mathematician, Carl Friedrich Gauss, whom she showed her work on a math problem known as Fermat's Last Theorem. Her work, the concept of the Sophie Germain prime, is arguably her greatest contribution to mathematics. In 1815, she won the prize for her entry for the Institut de France’s elasticity competition. Partly as a result, the French Academy of Sciences welcomed her as the first woman attendee who was not a member's wife.
2001, the International Court of Justice (the seat of which is the Peace Palace at The Hague, left) ruled against the United States in its judgment in the LaGrand Case. U.S. authorities had been required under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, of which the United States is a state party, to inform the defendants, foreign nationals, of their right to receive consular assistance from their government at the time of their arrest. They failed to do so and proceeded to carry out sentencing. The ICJ ruled that the United States had violated international law, stating additionally, for the first time in its history, that provisional measures issued by the Court were legally binding. (photo credit)

(Prior June 27 posts are here and here.)

No comments: