Bracewell Was Awesome06 Oct 2019
I was thinking about the Laplace transformation and the application to the evaluation of improper integrals is really the most interesting aspect to me. Now, that is mostly because I do a lot of statistics! But, while thinking about the Laplace Transform, I pulled up the Wikipedia page. You can see it here:
In mathematics, the Laplace transform is an integral transform named after its inventor Pierre-Simon Laplace (). It transforms a function of a real variable t (often time) to a function of a complex variable s ( complex frequency). The transform has many applications in science and engineering.
But something completely unrelated caught my eye on that page, and we are about to go down a completely irrelevant road, but it is fun. So, some well known transformations are given on the page, along with a source. For several of them, the source given is “Bracewell 1978.” Well, that’s interesting. I found the full citation, and sure enough, it’s Ronald N. Bracewell:
Bracewell, Ronald N. (1978), The Fourier Transform and its Applications (2nd ed.), McGraw-Hill Kogakusha, ISBN 978-0-07-007013-4
You’re probably thinking, who is Ronald N. Bracewell. In 1960, he came up with the idea that one could send a robotic probe to another star system to communicate with another civilization. This was basically the plot of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and the Arthur C. Clarke book, Rendezvous with Rama. It’s also interesting because all of the sudden, we’ve had two visitors from outside the solar system, lately.
First, in 2018, an interstellar object ‘Oumuamua swung through our Solar System. Now all the sudden, a second identifiably interstellar object has been identified, 2I/Borisov. Now, neither of these are likely Bracewell probes. But as the meme goes, “I’m not saying it was aliens, but it was aliens.”
Image by European Southern Observatory / M. Kornmesser.