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Encyclopedia > Simon Newcomb
Simon Newcomb.
Simon Newcomb.

Simon Newcomb (March 12, 1835July 11, 1909) was an astronomer and mathematician. Born in the town of Wallace, Nova Scotia, Newcomb appears to have enjoyed no formal education beyond his short apprenticeship to a charlatan herbalist in 1851. Download high resolution version (925x1096, 98 KB) This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... Download high resolution version (925x1096, 98 KB) This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... March 12 is the 71st day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (72nd in leap years). ... | Come and take it, slogan of the Texas Revolution 1835 was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... July 11 is the 192nd day (193rd in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian Calendar, with 173 days remaining. ... 1909 (MCMIX) was a common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... An astronomer or astrophysicist is a scientist whose area of research is astronomy or astrophysics. ... Leonhard Euler is considered by many people to be one of the greatest mathematicians of all time A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study and research is mathematics. ... Wallace is a community in Nova Scotia, Canada. ... Motto: Munit Haec et Altera Vincit (Latin: One defends and the other conquers) Official languages None (English,French,Gaelic) Flower Trailing arbutus Capital Halifax Largest city Halifax Lieutenant-Governor Myra Freeman Premier Rodney MacDonald (PC) Parliamentary representation  - House seat  - Senate seats 11 10 Area Total  - Land  - Water    (% of total)  Ranked... The term Herbalism refers to folk and traditional medicinal practice based on the use of plants and plant extracts. ...

Contents


Life

Son of Emily Prince and itinerant school teacher John Burton Newcomb, Simon soon became disillusioned with Dr Foshay and walked the 120 miles to the coast to work his passage on-board ship to Salem, Massachusetts so that he could join his father. Newcomb studied mathematics and physics privately and supported himself with some school-teaching before becoming a computer at the Nautical Almanac Office in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1857. At around the same time, he enrolled at the Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard University, graduating in 1858. A mile is any of a number of units of distance, each in the magnitude of 1–10 km. ... Settled: 1626 â€“ Incorporated: 1626 Zip Code(s): 01970 â€“ Area Code(s): 351 / 978 Official website: http://www. ... Euclid, a famous Greek mathematician known as the father of geometry, is shown here in detail from The School of Athens by Raphael. ... The first few hydrogen atom electron orbitals shown as cross-sections with color-coded probability density. ... HM Nautical Almanac Office in Britain. ... Cambridge City Hall Settled: 1630 â€“ Incorporated: 1636 Zip Code(s): 02139 â€“ Area Code(s): 617 / 857 Official website: http://www. ... The Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences (DEAS) is a unit of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University responsible for research, as well as undergraduate and graduate education in applied mathematics, computer science, engineering, and technology. ... Harvard University campus (old map) Harvard University (incorporated as The President and Fellows of Harvard College) is a private university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. ...


In the prelude to the American Civil War, many US Navy staff of Confederate sympathies left the service and, in 1861, Newcomb took advantage of one of the ensuing vacancies to become professor of mathematics and astronomer at the United States Naval Observatory, Washington D.C.. Newcomb set to work on the measurement of the position of the planets as an aid to navigation, becoming increasingly interested in theories of planetary motion. Combatants United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America (Confederate) Commanders Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee Strength 2,200,000 1,064,000 Casualties Killed in action: 110,000 Total dead: 360,000 Wounded: 275,200 Killed in action: 93,000 Total dead: 258... The United States Navy (USN) is the branch of the United States armed forces responsible for naval operations. ... Motto: Deo Vindice (Latin: With God As Our Vindicator) Anthem: God Save the South (unofficial) Dixie (popular) The Bonnie Blue Flag (popular) Capital Montgomery, Alabama February 4, 1861–May 29, 1861 Richmond, Virginia May 29, 1861–April 9, 1865 Danville, Virginia April 3–April 10, 1865 Largest city New Orleans... Euclid, a famous Greek mathematician known as the father of geometry, is shown here in detail from The School of Athens by Raphael. ... An astronomer or astrophysicist is a scientist whose area of research is astronomy or astrophysics. ... Aerial view of USNO. The United States Naval Observatory (USNO) is one of the oldest scientific agencies in the United States. ... Aerial photo (looking NW) of the Washington Monument and the White House in Washington, DC. Washington, D.C., officially the District of Columbia (also known as D.C.; Washington; the Nations Capital; the District; and, historically, the Federal City) is the capital city and administrative district of the United...


By the time Newcomb visited Paris, France in 1870, he was already aware that the table of lunar positions calculated by Peter Andreas Hansen was in error. While in Paris, he realised that, in addition to the data from 1750 to 1838 that Hansen had used, there was further data stretching as far back as 1672. His visit allowed little serenity for analysis as he witnessed the defeat of French emperor Napoleon III in the Franco-Prussian War and the coup that ended the Second French Empire. Newcomb managed to escape from the city during the ensuing rioting that led up to the formation of the Paris Commune and which engulfed the Paris Observatory. Newcomb was able to use the "new" data to revise Hansen's tables. The Eiffel Tower, the international symbol of the city, as viewed from the Trocadéro This article is about the capital and largest city in France. ... Peter Andreas Hansen (December 8, 1795 – March 28, 1874), Danish astronomer, was born at Tondern, in the duchy of Schleswig (now Tønder, Denmark). ... The Eiffel Tower, the international symbol of the city, as viewed from the Trocadéro This article is about the capital and largest city in France. ... Peter Andreas Hansen (December 8, 1795 – March 28, 1874), Danish astronomer, was born at Tondern, in the duchy of Schleswig (now Tønder, Denmark). ... Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte (April 20, 1808 - January 9, 1873) was the son of King Louis Bonaparte and Queen Hortense de Beauharnais; both monarchs of the French puppet state, the Kingdom of Holland. ... Combatants France Prussia allied with German states (later German Empire) Commanders Napoleon III Helmuth von Moltke Strength 500,000 550,000 Casualties 150,000 dead or wounded 284,000 captured 350,000 civilian [citation needed] 100,000 dead or wounded 200,000 civilian [citation needed] The Franco-Prussian War (July... The neutrality of this article is disputed. ... Le Père Duchesne face to the statue of Napoleon I on top of the Vendome column: Eh ben ! bougre de canaille, on va donc te foutre en bas comme ta crapule de neveu !… (Here! savage rascal, we will put you down just as your crook of a nephew!… The... gros pd]], enfoire at Nançay. ... Peter Andreas Hansen (December 8, 1795 – March 28, 1874), Danish astronomer, was born at Tondern, in the duchy of Schleswig (now Tønder, Denmark). ...


He was offered the post of director of the Harvard College Observatory in 1875 but declined, having by now settled that his interests lay in mathematics rather than observation. Harvard College Observatory, about 1900. ... Euclid, a famous Greek mathematician known as the father of geometry, is shown here in detail from The School of Athens by Raphael. ...


In 1877 he became director of the Nautical Almanac Office where, ably assisted by George William Hill, he embarked on a program of recalculation of all the major astronomical constants. Despite fulfilling a further demanding role as professor of mathematics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University from 1884, he conceived with A. M. W. Downing a plan to resolve much international confusion on the subject. By the time he attended a standardisation conference in Paris, France in May 1896, the international consensus was all ephemerides should be based on Newcomb's calculations. A further conference as late as 1950 confirmed Newcomb's constants as the international standard. HM Nautical Almanac Office in Britain. ... George William Hill (March 3, 1838 – April 16, 1914), was a U.S. astronomer and mathematician. ... Euclid, a famous Greek mathematician known as the father of geometry, is shown here in detail from The School of Athens by Raphael. ... Radio telescopes are among many different tools used by astronomers Astronomy (Greek: αστρονομία = άστρον + νόμος, astronomia = astron + nomos, literally, law of the stars) is the science of celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, and galaxies) and phenomena that originate outside the Earths atmosphere (such as auroras and cosmic background radiation). ... The Johns Hopkins University, founded in 1876, is a private institution of higher learning located in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. ... Arthur Matthew Weld Downing (April 13, 1850 – December 8, 1917) was a British astronomer. ... The Eiffel Tower, the international symbol of the city, as viewed from the Trocadéro This article is about the capital and largest city in France. ... An ephemeris (plural: ephemerides) (from the Greek word ephemeros= daily) was, traditionally, a table providing the positions (given in a Cartesian coordinate system, or in right ascension and declination or, for astrologers, in longitude along the zodiacal ecliptic), of the Sun, the Moon, and the planets in the sky at...


In 1878, Newcomb had started planning for a new and precise measurement of the speed of light that was needed to account for exact values of many astronomical constants. He had already started developing a refinement of the method of Léon Foucault when he received a letter from the young naval officer and physicist Albert Abraham Michelson who was also planning such a measurement. Thus began a long collaboration and friendship. In 1880, Michelson assisted at Newcomb's initial measurement with instruments located at Fort Myer and the United States Naval Observatory, then situated on the Potomac River. However, Michelson had left to start his own project by the time of the second set of measurements between the observatory and the Washington Monument. Though Michelson published his first measurement in 1880, Newcomb's measurement was substantially different. In 1883, Michelson revised his measurement to a value closer to Newcomb's. The speed of light in a vacuum is denoted by the letter c. ... J. B. Léon Foucault Jean Bernard Léon Foucault (name pronounced Foo-KOH) (18 September 1819 – 11 February 1868) was a French physicist best known for the invention of the Foucault pendulum, a device demonstrating the effect of the Earths rotation. ... Physicists working in a government lab A physicist is a scientist who is a practitioner of physics. ... Albert Abraham Michelson. ... 1880 (MDCCCLXXX) was a leap year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... Albert Abraham Michelson. ... Orville Wright flying at Fort Myer, September 17, 1908. ... Aerial view of USNO. The United States Naval Observatory (USNO) is one of the oldest scientific agencies in the United States. ... The Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, located along the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States (USA). ... Albert Abraham Michelson. ... The Washington Monument at dusk The Washington Monument usually refers to the large white-colored obelisk in the center of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.. It is a United States Presidential Memorial built for George Washington, the first President of the United States and the leader of the... Albert Abraham Michelson. ... 1883 (MDCCCLXXXIII) was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... Albert Abraham Michelson. ...


In 1881, Newcomb discovered the statistical principle now known as Benford's law, when he observed that the earlier pages of logarithm books, used at that time to carry out logarithmic calculations, were far more worn than the later pages. This led him to formulate the principle that, in any list of numbers taken from an arbitrary set of data, more numbers will tend to have the leading digit 1 than any other leading digit. Benfords law, also called the first-digit law, states that in lists of numbers from many (but not all) real-life sources of data, the leading digit 1 occurs much more often than the others (namely about 30% of the time). ... Logarithms to various bases: is to base e, is to base 10, and is to base 1. ...


In 1891, within months of Seth Carlo Chandler’s discovery of the 14 month variation of latitude, now referred to as the Chandler wobble, Newcomb explained the apparent conflict between the observed motion and predicted period of the wobble. The theory was based on a perfectly rigid body, but Earth is slightly elastic. Newcomb used the variation of latitude observations to estimate the elasticity of Earth, finding if to be slightly more rigid than steel.


Newcomb was an autodidact and polymath. He wrote on economics and his Principles of political economy (1885) was described by John Maynard Keynes as "one of those original works which a fresh scientific mind, not perverted by having read too much of the orthodox stuff, is able to produce from time to time in a half-formed subject like economics." He spoke French, German, Italian and Swedish; was an active mountaineer; widely read; and authored a number of popular science books and a science fiction novel, His wisdom the defender (1900). Autodidacticism (also autodidactism) is self-education or self-directed learning. ... Leonardo da Vinci is seen as an epitome of the Renaissance man. ... Buyers bargain for good prices while sellers put forth their best front in Chichicastenango Market, Guatemala. ... John Maynard Keynes (right) and Harry Dexter White at the Bretton Woods Conference John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes, CB (pronounced kānz / kAnze) (June 5, 1883 – April 21, 1946) was a British economist whose ideas had a major impact on modern economic and political theory as well as on... Mountaineering is the sport or hobby or profession of walking, hiking and climbing up mountains. ... Science fiction is a form of speculative fiction principally dealing with the impact of imagined science and technology, or both, upon society and persons as individuals. ... Daniel Defoes Robinson Crusoe; title page of 1719 newspaper edition A novel (from French nouvelle Italian novella, new) is an extended fictional narrative in prose. ...


Newcomb died in Washington, DC of bladder cancer and was buried with military honours in Arlington National Cemetery with President William Howard Taft in attendance. Aerial photo (looking NW) of the Washington Monument and the White House in Washington, DC. Washington, D.C., officially the District of Columbia (also known as D.C.; Washington; the Nations Capital; the District; and, historically, the Federal City) is the capital city and administrative district of the United... Bladder cancer refers to any of several types of malignant growths of the urinary bladder. ... The Tomb of the Unknowns Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia, is an American military cemetery established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Robert E. Lees wife Mary. ... William Howard Taft (September 15, 1857 – March 8, 1930) was an American politician, the 27th President of the United States, the 10th Chief Justice of the United States, a leader of the progressive conservative wing of the Republican Party in the early twentieth century, a chaired professor at Yale Law...


Quotes

It is often repeated that Newcomb believed it impossible to build a “flying machine.” But that is not true. Newcomb was specifically critical of Samuel Pierpont Langley’s work, who claimed that he could build a flying machine powered by a steam engine. Newcomb argued that, “Quite likely the twentieth century is destined to see the natural forces which will enable us to fly from continent to continent with a speed far exceeding that of a bird. But when we inquire whether aerial flight is possible in the present state of our knowledge; whether, with such materials as we possess, a combination of steel, cloth and wire can be made which, moved by the power of electricity of steam, shall form a successful flying machine, the outlook may be altogether different.” Newcomb favored the development of rotating wing (helicopter) and airships that would float in the air (blimps). Within a few decades, Zeppelins regularly transported passengers between Europe and the United States, and the Graf Zeppelin circumnavigated the Earth.


Awards and honours

President Harding and the National Academy of Sciences at the White House, Washington, DC, April 1921 The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine. ... Gold Medal awarded to Asaph Hall The Gold Medal is the highest award of the Royal Astronomical Society. ... The premises of the Royal Society in London (first four properties only). ... American Journal of Mathematics, April 2006 issue. ... The Copley Medal is a scientific award for work in any field of science, the highest award granted by the Royal Society of London. ... The premises of the Royal Society in London (first four properties only). ... Knights badge of the Legion of Honour The Légion dhonneur (Legion of Honor (AmE) or Legion of Honour (ComE)) is an Order of Chivalry first established by Napoléon Bonaparte, First Consul of the French Republic, on May 19, 1802. ... The American Mathematical Society (AMS) is dedicated to the interests of mathematical research and education, which it does with various publications and conferences as well as annual monetary awards to mathematicians. ... The Catherine Wolfe Bruce gold medal is awarded every year by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for outstanding lifetime contributions to astronomy. ... The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) was founded in San Francisco in 1889. ... The American Astronomical Society (AAS) is a US society of professional astronomers and other interested individuals, headquartered in Washington, DC. The main aim of the AAS is provide a political voice for its members and organise their lobbying. ... 855 Newcombia 855 Newcombia is a minor planet orbiting Sun. ... Newcomb is a lunar impact crater that is located in the rugged Montes Taurus mountain range, to the east of the Mare Serenitatis. ... For information on the actual moon orbiting the Earth, see Moon. ...

Publications

  • Newcomb, S (1878) Popular astronomy
  • Newcomb, S (1880) Astronomy for schools and colleges
  • Newcomb, S (1890) Elements of astronomy
  • Newcomb, S (1900) His wisdom the defender - science fiction
  • Newcomb, S (1901) The stars
  • Newcomb, S (1903) Astronomy for everyone
  • Newcomb, S (1903) The Reminiscences of an Astronomer - his autobiography
  • Newcomb, S (1906) Compendium of Spherical Astronomy
  • Newcomb, S (1881) Note on the Frequency of Use of the Different Digits in Natural Numbers

See also

Charles_Sanders_Peirce Charles Sanders Peirce Charles Sanders Peirce (September 10, 1839 – April 19, 1914) was an American logician, philosopher, scientist, and mathematician. ...


See “Simon Newcomb, America’s Unofficial Astronomer Royal,” by Bill Carter and Merri Sue Carter, Mantanzas Publishing, St. Augustine, Fl 2006, for more information on the life and scientific works of Simon Newcomb.


External links


For links to Newcomb's economic writings go to the Archive for the History of Economic Thought The MacTutor history of mathematics archive is a website hosted by University of St Andrews in Scotland. ... Project Gutenberg (often abbreviated as PG) is a volunteer effort to digitize, archive, and distribute cultural works. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
Simon Newcomb - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1017 words)
Simon Newcomb (March 12, 1835 – July 11, 1909) was an astronomer and mathematician.
Newcomb managed to escape from the city during the ensuing rioting that led up to the formation of the Paris Commune and which engulfed the Paris Observatory.
Newcomb died in Washington, DC of bladder cancer and was buried with military honours in Arlington National Cemetery with President William Howard Taft in attendance.
Newcomb's Tables of the Sun - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (268 words)
Newcomb's Tables were the basis for all ephemerides published from 1900 through 1983, including the annual almanacs of the U.S. Naval Observatory and the Royal Greenwich Observatory.
Newcomb's work was no small accomplishment, especially considering that it predated the advent of digital computers by more than a half century.
Newcomb developed similar formulas and tables for the other planets; those of the inner planets have proved to be the most accurate.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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