Normat summaries 2/2006

Henrik Kragh Sørensen
The Scandinavian Congresses of Mathematics until the end of World War I. Part 2. (Danish).

This is the second and final part of a paper analysing the Scandinavian congresses of mathematicians before the end of World War I. The first part was published in Normat 54:1. This part treats the congresses of 1913 and 1916 and continues the discussion of the general themes of Scandinavian and professional identity, mathematical ambitions and realities in Scandinavia, and the public image of mathematics. The first generation of Scandinavian congresses of mathematics ended with World War I, after which Scandinavian mathematicians developed and adopted new roles and outlooks. Thus, the congress in Stockholm 1916 provides a rounding off of the first chapter of this history and of this paper because the congresses thus returned to their origin. Simultaneously, this war-time congress illuminates some of the themes that would come to dominate Scandinavian mathematics in the inter-war period.

Ülo Lumiste and Helmut Piirimäe
Sven Dimberg, an introductor of Newton’s Principia into the University of Tartu in the 1690s, part 3.
Translation by Jaak Peetre and Staffan Rodhe with historic annotations by Staffan Rodhe. (Swedish).

This is the third part of three dealing with Sven Dimberg, a Swedish professor of mathematics in Tartu, Estonia, in the 1690s. He is supposed to have introduced Newton’s Principia in the curricula of the university. The article tries to clarify when, and to what extent, Newton’s theory was really taught at the University of Tartu. By studying curriculums of the 1690s it is possible to find out that Dimberg followed the scheme that showed how to study Principia, which Newton himself had presented in the beginning of the third book. The later annotations give still more facts about the curriculums: a few more are found and new translations of them are done. As a result we now know that Dimberg lectured about the astronomical hypotheses in Book 3 in 1693/94. Then in 1696/97 he prepared the explanations of these hypotheses by lecturing about the theory of the first three sections in Book 1. The Great NordicWar kept him from finishing the explanation of Newton’s cosmology.

Olle Häggström
Mathematics in the hands of anti-Darwinists (Swedish).

After recalling some basics concerning optimization theory, evolutionary biology, and the sort of arguments put forth by proponents of intelligent design, the author takes another look at the model assumptions involved in William Dembski’s (2002) use of the NFL theorems from optimization theory to disprove the Darwinian theory of evolution by natural selection. Dembski’s central argument is shown to lack any relevance whatsoever to evolutionary biology. Manuscripts in English with partly the same content as the present paper can be found via the author’s webpage.