April 29, 2017 – NATIONAL ZIPPER DAY – NATIONAL PEACE ROSE DAY – NATIONAL SHRIMP SCAMPI DAY – NATIONAL KISS OF HOPE DAY – NATIONAL POOL OPENING DAY – NATIONAL SENSE OF SMELL DAY – NATIONAL REBUILDING DAY
On this day:
1944 – World War II: British agent Nancy Wake, a leading figure in the French Resistance and the Gestapo’s most wanted person, parachutes back into France to be a liaison between London and the local maquis group.
Nancy Grace Augusta Wake AC, GM (30 August 1912 – 7 August 2011) served as a British Special Operations Executive agent during the later part of World War II. She became a leading figure in the maquis groups of the French Resistance and was one of the most decorated servicewomen of the war by the Allies. After the fall of France in 1940, she became a courier for the French Resistance and later joined the escape network of Captain Ian Garrow. By 1943, Wake was the Gestapo’s most wanted person, with a 5-million-franc price on her head.
After reaching Britain, Wake joined the Special Operations Executive. On the night of 29–30 April 1944, Wake was parachuted into occupied France Auvergne, becoming a liaison between London and the local maquis group headed by Captain Henri Tardivat in the Forest of Tronçais. From April 1944 until the liberation of France, her 7,000+ maquisards fought 22,000 German soldiers, causing 1,400 casualties, while suffering only 100 among themselves.
Wartime service and Special Operations Executive
In 1937, Wake met wealthy French industrialist Henri Edmond Fiocca (1898–1943), whom she married on 30 November 1939. She was living in Marseille, France when Germany invaded. After the fall of France in 1940, she became a courier for the French Resistance and later, joined the escape network of Captain Ian Garrow. In reference to Wake’s ability to elude capture, the Gestapo called her the White Mouse. The Resistance exercised caution with her missions; her life was in constant danger, with the Gestapo tapping her telephone and intercepting her mail.
In November 1942, Wehrmacht troops occupied the southern part of France after the Allies’ Operation Torch had started. This gave the Gestapo unrestricted access to all papers of the Vichy régime and made life more dangerous for Wake. By 1943, Wake was the Gestapo’s most wanted person, with a price of 5 million francs on her head. When the network was betrayed that same year, she decided to flee Marseille. Her husband, Henri Fiocca, stayed behind. He later was captured, tortured, and executed by the Gestapo. Wake described her tactics: “A little powder and a little drink on the way, and I’d pass their (German) posts and wink and say, ‘Do you want to search me?’ God, what a flirtatious little bastard I was.”
Wake had been arrested in Toulouse,[when?] but was released four days later. An acquaintance, (Scarlet Pimpernel), managed to have her let out by making up stories about her supposed infidelity to her husband. On her sixth attempt, she succeeded in crossing the Pyrenees to Spain. Until the war ended, she was unaware of her husband’s death and subsequently, blamed herself for it.
After reaching Britain, Wake joined the Special Operations Executive. Vera Atkins, who also worked in the SOE, recalls her as “a real Australian bombshell. Tremendous vitality, flashing eyes. Everything she did, she did well.” Training reports record that she was “a very good and fast shot” and possessed excellent fieldcraft. She was noted to “put the men to shame by her cheerful spirit and strength of character.”
On the night of 29–30 April 1944, Wake was parachuted into the Auvergne, becoming a liaison between London and the local maquis group headed by Captain Henri Tardivat in the Forest of Tronçais. Upon discovering her tangled in a tree, Captain Tardivat greeted her remarking, “I hope that all the trees in France bear such beautiful fruit this year.”, to which she replied, “Don’t give me that French shit.” Her duties included allocating arms and equipment that were parachuted in and minding the group’s finances. Wake became instrumental in recruiting more members and making the maquis groups into a formidable force, roughly 7,500 strong. She also led attacks on German installations and the local Gestapo HQ in Montluçon. At one point Wake discovered that her men were protecting a girl who was a German spy. They did not have the heart to kill her in cold blood, but when Wake insisted that she would perform the execution, they capitulated.
From April 1944 until the liberation of France, her 7,000+ maquisards fought 22,000 German soldiers, causing 1,400 casualties, while suffering only 100 among themselves. Her French companions, especially Henri Tardivat, praised her fighting spirit, amply demonstrated when she killed an SS sentry with her bare hands to prevent him from raising the alarm during a raid. During a 1990s television interview, when asked what had happened to the sentry who spotted her, Wake simply drew her finger across her throat. “They’d taught this judo-chop stuff with the flat of the hand at SOE, and I practised away at it. But this was the only time I used it – whack – and it killed him all right. I was really surprised.”
On another occasion, to replace codes her wireless operator had been forced to destroy in a German raid, Wake rode a bicycle for more than 500 kilometres (310 mi) through several German checkpoints. During a German attack on another maquis group, Wake, along with two American officers, took command of a section whose leader had been killed. She directed the use of suppressive fire, which facilitated the withdrawal of the group without further losses.
Born on this day:
1854 – Henri Poincaré, French mathematician, physicist, and engineer (d. 1912)
Jules Henri Poincaré (French: [ʒyl ɑ̃ʁi pwɛ̃kaʁe]; 29 April 1854 – 17 July 1912) was a French mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and philosopher of science. He is often described as a polymath, and in mathematics as The Last Universalist by Eric Temple Bell, since he excelled in all fields of the discipline as it existed during his lifetime.
As a mathematician and physicist, he made many original fundamental contributions to pure and applied mathematics, mathematical physics, and celestial mechanics. He was responsible for formulating the Poincaré conjecture, which was one of the most famous unsolved problems in mathematics until it was solved in 2002–2003 by Grigori Perelman. In his research on the three-body problem, Poincaré became the first person to discover a chaotic deterministic system which laid the foundations of modern chaos theory. He is also considered to be one of the founders of the field of topology.
Poincaré made clear the importance of paying attention to the invariance of laws of physics under different transformations, and was the first to present the Lorentz transformations in their modern symmetrical form. Poincaré discovered the remaining relativistic velocity transformations and recorded them in a letter to Dutch physicist Hendrik Lorentz (1853–1928) in 1905. Thus he obtained perfect invariance of all of Maxwell’s equations, an important step in the formulation of the theory of special relativity. In 1905, Poincaré first proposed gravitational waves (ondes gravifiques) emanating from a body and propagating at the speed of light as being required by the Lorentz transformations.
The Poincaré group used in physics and mathematics was named after him.
Poincaré was born on 29 April 1854 in Cité Ducale neighborhood, Nancy, Meurthe-et-Moselle into an influential family. His father Leon Poincaré (1828–1892) was a professor of medicine at the University of Nancy. His adored younger sister Aline married the spiritual philosopher Emile Boutroux. Another notable member of Henri’s family was his cousin, Raymond Poincaré, who would serve as President of France from 1913 to 1920, and who was a fellow member of the Académie française. He was raised in the Roman Catholic faith, but later left the religion. He became a freethinker, believing in the search for truth and was said to be an atheist.
During his childhood he was seriously ill for a time with diphtheria and received special instruction from his mother, Eugénie Launois (1830–1897).
In 1862, Henri entered the Lycée in Nancy (now renamed the Lycée Henri Poincaré in his honour, along with the University of Nancy). He spent eleven years at the Lycée and during this time he proved to be one of the top students in every topic he studied. He excelled in written composition. His mathematics teacher described him as a “monster of mathematics” and he won first prizes in the concours général, a competition between the top pupils from all the Lycées across France. His poorest subjects were music and physical education, where he was described as “average at best”. However, poor eyesight and a tendency towards absentmindedness may explain these difficulties. He graduated from the Lycée in 1871 with a bachelor’s degree in letters and sciences.
During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, he served alongside his father in the Ambulance Corps.
Poincaré entered the École Polytechnique in 1873 and graduated in 1875. There he studied mathematics as a student of Charles Hermite, continuing to excel and publishing his first paper (Démonstration nouvelle des propriétés de l’indicatrice d’une surface) in 1874. From November 1875 to June 1878 he studied at the École des Mines, while continuing the study of mathematics in addition to the mining engineering syllabus, and received the degree of ordinary mining engineer in March 1879.
As a graduate of the École des Mines, he joined the Corps des Mines as an inspector for the Vesoul region in northeast France. He was on the scene of a mining disaster at Magny in August 1879 in which 18 miners died. He carried out the official investigation into the accident in a characteristically thorough and humane way.
At the same time, Poincaré was preparing for his doctorate in science in mathematics under the supervision of Charles Hermite. His doctoral thesis was in the field of differential equations. It was named Sur les propriétés des fonctions définies par les équations aux différences partielles. Poincaré devised a new way of studying the properties of these equations. He not only faced the question of determining the integral of such equations, but also was the first person to study their general geometric properties. He realised that they could be used to model the behaviour of multiple bodies in free motion within the solar system. Poincaré graduated from the University of Paris in 1879.
First scientific achievements
After receiving his degree, Poincaré began teaching as junior lecturer in mathematics at the University of Caen in Normandy (in December 1879). At the same time he published his first major article concerning the treatment of a class of automorphic functions.
There, in Caen, he met his future wife, Louise Poulin d’Andesi (Louise Poulain d’Andecy) and on 20 April 1881, they married. Together they had four children: Jeanne (born 1887), Yvonne (born 1889), Henriette (born 1891), and Léon (born 1893).
Poincaré immediately established himself among the greatest mathematicians of Europe, attracting the attention of many prominent mathematicians. In 1881 Poincaré was invited to take a teaching position at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Paris; he accepted the invitation. During the years of 1883 to 1897, he taught mathematical analysis in École Polytechnique.
In 1881–1882, Poincaré created a new branch of mathematics: the qualitative theory of differential equations. He showed how it is possible to derive the most important information about the behavior of a family of solutions without having to solve the equation (since this may not always be possible). He successfully used this approach to problems in celestial mechanics and mathematical physics.
He never fully abandoned his mining career to mathematics. He worked at the Ministry of Public Services as an engineer in charge of northern railway development from 1881 to 1885. He eventually became chief engineer of the Corps de Mines in 1893 and inspector general in 1910.
Beginning in 1881 and for the rest of his career, he taught at the University of Paris (the Sorbonne). He was initially appointed as the maître de conférences d’analyse (associate professor of analysis). Eventually, he held the chairs of Physical and Experimental Mechanics, Mathematical Physics and Theory of Probability, and Celestial Mechanics and Astronomy.
In 1887, at the young age of 32, Poincaré was elected to the French Academy of Sciences. He became its president in 1906, and was elected to the Académie française in 1909.
In 1887, he won Oscar II, King of Sweden’s mathematical competition for a resolution of the three-body problem concerning the free motion of multiple orbiting bodies. (See #Three-body problem section below)
In 1893, Poincaré joined the French Bureau des Longitudes, which engaged him in the synchronisation of time around the world. In 1897 Poincaré backed an unsuccessful proposal for the decimalisation of circular measure, and hence time and longitude. It was this post which led him to consider the question of establishing international time zones and the synchronisation of time between bodies in relative motion. (See #Work on relativity section below)
In 1899, and again more successfully in 1904, he intervened in the trials of Alfred Dreyfus. He attacked the spurious scientific claims of some of the evidence brought against Dreyfus, who was a Jewish officer in the French army charged with treason by colleagues.
Poincaré was the President of the Société Astronomique de France (SAF), the French astronomical society, from 1901-1903.
In 1912, Poincaré underwent surgery for a prostate problem and subsequently died from an embolism on 17 July 1912, in Paris. He was 58 years of age. He is buried in the Poincaré family vault in the Cemetery of Montparnasse, Paris.
A former French Minister of Education, Claude Allègre, proposed in 2004 that Poincaré be reburied in the Panthéon in Paris, which is reserved for French citizens only of the highest honour.
Poincaré had two notable doctoral students at the University of Paris, Louis Bachelier (1900) and Dimitrie Pompeiu (1905).
Poincaré made many contributions to different fields of pure and applied mathematics such as: celestial mechanics, fluid mechanics, optics, electricity, telegraphy, capillarity, elasticity, thermodynamics, potential theory, quantum theory, theory of relativity and physical cosmology.
He was also a populariser of mathematics and physics and wrote several books for the lay public.
Among the specific topics he contributed to are the following:
the theory of analytic functions of several complex variables
the theory of abelian functions
Poincaré was responsible for formulating one of the most famous problems in mathematics, the Poincaré conjecture, proven in 2003 by Grigori Perelman.
Poincaré recurrence theorem
the three-body problem
the theory of diophantine equations
the theory of electromagnetism
the special theory of relativity
In an 1894 paper, he introduced the concept of the fundamental group.
In the field of differential equations Poincaré has given many results that are critical for the qualitative theory of differential equations, for example the Poincaré sphere and the Poincaré map.
Poincaré on “everybody’s belief” in the Normal Law of Errors (see normal distribution for an account of that “law”)
Published an influential paper providing a novel mathematical argument in support of quantum mechanics.
The 100 Days Project
During the highly contentious political climate in this country, the terms “fascism” and “Nazi Germany” have been tossed around quite freely by both sides of the political spectrum. As a response to this and in an effort to provide some clarity of what fascism in Nazi Germany actually looked like, we at the Emory University German Department initiated a research project that aims to document the first 100 days of National Socialism- from the day that Adolf Hitler was named Reichskanzler on January 30, 1933 until May 9, 1933.
The general plan for our project is that our research team will work its way through the 100 days, investigating and documenting the events of each day and then posting the findings on a daily basis for public consumption.