Leonhard EulerThe Euler Society Newsletter


Volume 2, number 3

July, 2003

Visit The Euler Society home page at http://www.eulersociety.org.


Calinger to Deliver Euler Lecture


                Ron Calinger, Chancellor of The Euler Society and Professor of History at The Catholic University of America, will deliver The Euler Lecture at the Second Annual Euler Society Meeting at Roger Williams University.  The title of his talk is “Euler's Golden Decade in Berlin: The First Half to 1751.” 

                Many of us have on our bookshelves Calinger’s collection of readings in the history of mathematics Classics of Mathematics.  Your editor’s copy is wearing out, and when he tried to replace it “the cheap way” by buying a copy on eBay, he learned that there are others with deeper pockets who also admire the work.  He has also published a number of articles about Euler.  They have appeared in Annals of Science, Historia Mathematica and Archive for History of Exact Sciences, among others.

                Ron’s doctorate in the History of Mathematics is from the University of Chicago, where he had to defend his dissertation before both the Mathematics and the History Departments. 

                Some readers will recall that Ron was scheduled to talk at the First Annual Euler Society, but was unable to attend.  Those of us who have heard Ron speak before know to look forward to his talk.  The rest of you are in for a treat.  He covers a lot of ground without seeming to hurry.

                The photo at the right is of Ron speaking at a Pohle Colloquium last October.  That talk is in the video archive at www.PohleColloquium.org.               

Ron Calinger speaking at Adelphi

in October, 2002


Minor Changes to the Euler 2003 Program


                A few small changes have been made to the program for Euler 2003, the second annual meeting of The Euler Society.   The meeting will be held August 10 to 13, 2003 at the Conference Center of Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island.  It will begin the evening of Sunday, August 10 with registration and a reception.  Fourteen talks and two workshops will keep attendees occupied through noon on Wednesday, August 13.  An outline of the slightly revised Program appears at the end of this Newsletter.

                People planning to attend should register and make reservations as soon as possible.  Instructions on how to do that are in the Announcement at the end of the Newsletter, but before the Program.  Contact John Glaus if you still have questions on how to register.  He’s good at that; that’s why we made him Ombudsman.


Euler Beer


                Your Editor is something of an eBay fan.  From time to time, he searches on the keyword “Euler.”  Most of the time, all he finds are those “Euler Disk” toys that came out a few years ago.  Sometimes there are commemorative postage stamps, either from 1957, the 250th anniversary of The Great One’s birth, or from 1983, the 200th anniversary of his death.

                One day, though, there was an “Euler Beer sign.”  Not knowing what it was, he bought it.  It is what it sounds like.  It is a gold-colored sign, about 12 inches wide, 15 inches long, advertising “Euler Beer, Imported From Germany.”  It seems to be brewed in Wetzlar.  There is a telephone number.  Unfortunately, what little research we have been able to do has yielded none of the product itself.  We’ll continue to keep our eyes open.




Some Clarifications


                After he received the June issue of this Newsletter, our Local Arrangements Coordinator Bruce Burdick became anxious that some of us might be misled if we stopped in Rhode Island to ask directions.   Our Ombudsman John Glaus, who has visited the Conference Center itself, informs us that, indeed, it is not quite as easy to find as it looks on the map.  Bruce sends the following, in hopes that it will clarify the directions a bit.


The main campus of RWU is, as you correctly said, in Bristol, RI.  Just south of the campus is a bridge, called the Mount Hope Bridge, not New Hope (which sounds like a Star Wars title).  At the other end of the bridge is an island, and its official name is Rhode Island.  (Now you may ask, Isn't that the name of the state? and the astonishing answer is, No, the official name of the state is Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations.  Because this is a rather unwieldy name it is common to shorten it, much to the confusion of school children everywhere, to Rhode Island.)

This island is divided into three towns.  Going north to south, they are Portsmouth, Middletown, and Newport.  (These towns are what I learned in the Midwest to call townships, i.e., divisions of a county, but as you know the New England custom is to call such things towns.  The county of which they are subdivisions is Newport County.)

So our Conference Center, just 2 minutes drive from the south end of the Mount Hope Bridge, is located in the town of Portsmouth (in Newport County), and is also referred to as our Portsmouth Facility.

To make matters somewhat more confusing, most Rhode Islanders refuse to use the proper name for the island in question---they find it too confusing.  Short-term residents tend to call it Newport Island and long-term residents use the name Aquidneck Island, and both groups are quite sure that their own usage is correct.

My grandmother grew up in Bristol, so I asked her what you should call the island on the other side of the Mount Hope Bridge.  She recited, without any hesitation, "the island of Rhode Island."  (This name does avoid the possibility of confusion with the name of the state, but it is somewhat cumbersome and, on the face of it, redundant.)  When I told her that locals
were calling it Aquidneck now, she said Aquidneck is just a small part of Portsmouth.

So you may find a local telling you that you are going to Newport or Newport Island when you cross the bridge from Bristol, but this is incorrect and misleading.  I would hate to think that some of our colleagues might go to downtown Newport and ask directions to the Roger Williams Conference Center.  Since so many things in this state are named after Roger Williams they could be directed virtually anywhere.

On an unrelated note, may I change my title to "European Mathematicians and Scientists on the Streets of Mexico City"?

Best regards,

At the Bookstore


                The History of Mathematics is something of a Meta-subject.  It is not Mathematics, but it is about mathematics.  Writing the History of Mathematics: Its Historical Development, edited by Dauben and Scriba, thus has a Meta-meta-subject.  It is an account of the history of the History of Mathematics.  (I suppose this review then has a Meta-meta-meta-subject, since it is about a history of the History of Mathematics.)  The volume is dedicated to Kenneth O. May, one of disproportionately many historians of mathematics who faced the wrath of Joseph McCarthy about fifty years ago.

                This excellent and innovative book follows a very traditional format.  It has three broad sections: I. Countries, II., Portraits and Biographies, and III. Abbreviations, Bibliography and Index.  Because of its broad scope, and despite its length, almost 700 pages, there are times the authors cannot go into all the depth a reader might want.  Fortunately, contributors were very generous in supplying references.

                There is a good deal of exciting information about the historiography of Euler.  For example, there were at least three efforts to publish the collected works of Euler before the Opera Omnia with which we are all familiar.  There were efforts in Belgium in 1838, in St. Petersburg in 1854 and in Berlin in 1903.  (The contributors either didn’t know of or disregarded the proposal to the Carnegie Foundation that was made about 1900.)

                It is entirely unsurprising that Euler arises in the historiographies of Switzerland, Germany and Russia.  There is some overlap in the material, but this is to be expected when there are some two-dozen contributors.

                Overall, this is quite an interesting book, even if more than 90% of it isn’t about Euler.  It makes a good complement to the Joe Dauben’s massive CD, The History of Mathematics from Antiquity to the Present: A Selective Annotated Bibliography (American Mathematical Society, 2000)  Perhaps we’ll review that in some future issue.  Of that, we’ll only say that we wonder why they decided to describe it as Selective rather than Comprehensive.

                Writing the History of Mathematics: Its Historical Development edited by Joseph W. Dauben and Christoph J. Scriba, Birkhäuser, Boston, Basel and Berlin, 2002.  ISBN 3-7643-6167-0.



Upcoming Events


Euler 2003 – Countdown to the Tercentenary

                The Euler Society’s next big event is scheduled for Roger Williams University in Newport, Rhode Island, August 10-13, 2003.  Activities will begin with a reception the evening of  Sunday, August 10.

Roger Williams is actually in Bristol, but we’re meeting at their conference center on the other side of the New Hope Bridge in Newport.  See the announcement at the end of the Newsletter about how to register.  Abstracts, or at least solemn promises to send abstracts, were due May 1.  The program is at the end of this Newsletter.


Euler in Phoenix

Bill Dunham and Ed Sandifer will be running a Minicourse on Euler at the Phoenix Combined Mathematics Meetings of the MAA, AMS, AWM, and others next January.  The Minicourses are the ones that meet twice during the meetings for two hours at a time.  Bill Dunham wrote Journey Through Genius and Euler: The Master of Us All.  Ed Sandifer is known to some as the Editor of this Newsletter.  The MAA usually charges a little extra, something like $35, to attend a Minicourse.


Mathematical Instruments in Phoenix

The Phoenix meetings (see above) will also feature a Short Course on mathematical instruments, titled “The Material Culture of Mathematics.”   Short Courses are the ones that meet all day for two days before the main meetings begin.  The session “Mathematics in the Ancient World” at the Baltimore meetings was a Short Course.  The Short Course is being organized by Amy Shell-Gellasch and Glen van Brummelen.  Short Courses usually cost a bit more than MiniCourses, something on the order of $100.



                The Proceedings of Euler 2002 are almost ready, and should be available at the Rhode Island meeting.



                We have heard that Euler may soon be a regular feature at MAA Online.  Frank Morgan has stopped writing his Math Chats column, leaving a spot for a new column.  One of the candidates to fill that space might be a monthly column, tentatively titled How Euler Did It.  It might not happen, but it wouldn’t hurt to check MAA Online (www.maa.org) every few weeks, just in case.


Call for contributions

                The Newsletter will gladly include short contributions about Euler, his life, works and influence, and we will provide links to longer contributions.  Contact the Editor at esandifer@earthlink.net.


The Mission

                The Mission of The Euler Society is threefold: It encourages scholarly contributions examining the life, research, and influence of Leonhard Euler.  In part, these will be set within his times, that is, within the Enlightenment, the rise to European power status of Russia and Prussia, and the growth of royal science academies.  The Euler Society will also explore current studies in the mathematical sciences that build upon his thought.  And it will promote translations into English of selections from his writings, including correspondence and notebooks, in leading up to the tercentenary of his birth in 2007.


The Euler Society Executive Committee


Chancellor                             Ronald Calinger                    Catholic University              calinger@cua.edu

President                               Robert Bradley                     Adelphi University              bradley@adelphi.edu 

Vice President                       Ruediger Thiele                    University of Leipzig           thieler@medizin.uni-leipzig.de

Secretary                               Edward Sandifer                   Western Connecticut State University            esandifer@earthlink.net

Treasurer                               Mary Ann McLoughlin      College of St Rose               mcloughm@strose.edu

Ombudsman (ex officio)      John Glaus                            The Euler Society restinn@midmaine.com 




Euler 2003 Conference

Countdown to the Tercentenary

Sunday, August 10 – Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Roger WILLIAMS UNIVERSITY, Bristol, Rhode Island


         The 2003 Euler conference will be held at the Roger Williams University Residence and Conference Center. This facility is located just minutes from historic Bristol and the excitement of Newport. During E2003 you will be accommodated in the conference center’s luxury bedrooms including satellite TV, in-room coffee, individual climate control and dry cleaning services. The Center also offers an indoor heated pool, sauna and fitness center facility.



        Roger Williams University Residence and Conference Center in Portsmouth, is located 1.5 miles from the University’s main campus in Bristol and about 12 miles North of the picturesque Newport beaches, quaint shopping villages and historic mansions.



        For all four days $329.00            

        Includes: Luxury accommodations, Breakfast, Lunch and Morning and Afternoon refreshment breaks.


        Day Meeting PACKAGE: $29.00 per day

        Includes: Breakfast, Lunch and Morning and Afternoon refreshment breaks.


        There is a $50.00 Registration fee to be made payable to The Euler Society


Please make your reservations directly with:

Lorie Proulx

Roger Williams University Residences and Conference CENTER: lproulx@rwu.edu or www.rwu.edu


Call for Papers:

        Deadline has now passed.



        Last year’s attendees came from Kyoto, Oxford, West Point, Cornell, Miami, Western Connecticut, New Mexico, San Diego, Maine, and elsewhere.  They unanimously agreed that the Euler Conference was the best meeting they had ever attended.  Expect Newport to be just as great.



Euler 2003 Program


Roger Williams University

August 10-13, 2003


Sunday, August 10

                Evening – registration and reception


Monday, August 11


                                8:30         Talk 1.    Bruce Burdick, Roger Williams University

                                                                Mathematical Streets in Mexico City

                                9:30         Talk 2.    Dominic Klyve and Lee Stemkoski, Dartmouth College

                                                                The Euler Online Database

                                11:00       Talk 3.    Ron Calinger, Catholic University of America

                                                                The Euler Lecture

                                                                Euler's Golden Decade in Berlin: The First Half to 1751


1:30         Talk 4.    Sam Kutler, Saint John’s College

Five Favorite Irrational Numbers - Some differences between ancient and modern mathematics

                                2:30         Talk 5.    Rob Bradley, Adelphi University

To Speak of many things: of logs, and roots, and beaks of birds, of spheres and nodding rings

                                4:00         Talk 6.    Reading from Original Sources in French – E-170 or E-172

                                6:00                         Executive Committee meeting

Tuesday, August 12


                                8:30         Talk 7.    Ed Sandifer, Western Connecticut State University

                                                                Euler’s Life-long Plan for Mechanics

                                9:30         Talk 8.    Fred Rickey, United States Military Academy

                                                                Reading the Introductio

                                11:00       Talk 9.    Reading from Original Sources in Latin – Selections from the Introductio

                Afternoon – Session on Mechanics

1:30         Talk 10.  Roger Godard, Royal Military College of Canada

                                Euler’s Influence on Condorcet’s Views on Meteorology

                                2:30         Talk 11.  Larry D’Antonio, Ramapo College

                                                                “The fabric of the universe is most perfect”: Euler’s research on elastic curves

                                4:00         Talk 12.  Stacy Langton, University of San Diego

                                                                An error of Euler on Rigid Bodies


Wednesday, August 13

                Morning – Session on Euler and His Friends

                                8:30         Talk 13.  John Glaus, The Euler Society

                                                                Young Leonhard Euler travels to the Venice of the North to illuminate the Russia bear

                                9:30         Talk 14.  Craig Waff

The Young and the Productive: The Mathematical Work of the Precocious Clairaut Brothers, 1726-1731

                                11:00       Talk 15.  Mary Lynn Doan, Victor Valley Community College

                                                                Euler, Mayer and the Longitude Problem


Half hour breaks every day at 10:30 and 3:30