Math in the Media

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Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"50 years ago," column in Nature, 9 January 2003.

Each issue of Nature includes a column that quotes from issuespublished 50 and 100 years ago. The issue of Nature dated 10 January1953 noted that Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro, inventor of tensor calculus, wasborn on January 12, 1853. His theory had reached mature form by 1895 butreceived little attention until Einstein used it for the formulation ofgeneral relativity. "It was so little thought of indeed, that in 1901 Ricciwas denied the Italian Royal Prize in mathematics on the grounds that thecalculus was 'useful but not essential for the treatment of somemathematical questions'." The 1953 issue states that "The tensor calculus isfully established as one of the main instruments of modern mathematics, andgives to its inventor a permanent place in the history of the subject."

--- Annette Emerson