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Space History for December 28

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Died, Albert Pigge (Pighius), pontifical theologist, astronomer

Died, Francesco M. Grimaldi, mathematician, physicist (light defraction)

Born, Arthur Eddington, astronomer and physicist

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington (28 December 1882 - 22 November 1944) was arguably the most important astrophysicist from the early twentieth century. The Eddington limit, the natural limit to the luminosity that can be radiated by accretion onto a compact object, is named in his honor. He is also famous for his work regarding the Theory of Relativity. Eddington wrote an article, "Report on the relativity theory of gravitation," which announced Einstein's theory of general relativity to the English-speaking world. (Because of World War I, new developments in German science were not well known in England at the time.)

A. Charlois discovered asteroid #398 Admete.

A. Charlois discovered asteroid #425 Cornelia.

Born, John Von Neumann, mathematician, quantum physicist (Bocher Award 1938)

John von Neumann (28 December 1903 - 8 February 1957) was a Hungarian-American mathematician who made important contributions in quantum physics, set theory, computer science, economics and virtually all mathematical fields.

Among his other efforts, von Neumann proved that the most effective way large scale mining operations (such as mining an entire moon or asteroid) can be accomplished is through the use of self-replicating machines, to take advantage of the exponential growth of such mechanisms.

He also engaged in exploration of problems in the field of numerical hydrodynamics. With R. D. Richtmyer he developed an algorithm defining artificial viscosity which proved essential to understanding many kinds of shock waves. Much of current astrophysics, and recent developments in jet and rocket engines, was based on that work: The problem was that when using computers to solve hydrodynamic or aerodynamic problems, too many computational grid points are needed at regions of sharp discontinuity (e.g., shock waves). Artificial viscosity is a "mathematical trick" to slightly smooth the shock transition without sacrificing basic physics, greatly reducing the required computational capacity.

Born, Maarten Schmidt (at Groningen, The Netherlands), Dutch/US astronomer (quasars)

Y. Vaisala discovered asteroids #1659 Punkaharju, #1678 Hveen & #2962.

K. Reinmuth discovered asteroid #2181 Fogelin.

Born, Linus Torvalds (at Helsinki, Finland), Finnish-American software engineer, creator of the Linux kernel

As Comet Kohoutek reached perihelion, Dr. Lubos Kohoutek talked live with NASA's Skylab 4 crew observing the comet.

Paul Wild discovered asteroid #2087 Kochera, named after Swiss surgeon and Nobel laureate Theodor Kocher.

A. Mrkos discovered asteroid #3003.

Died, Hermann Oberth, rocket pioneer, one of the founding fathers of rocketry and astronautics

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