Carl Friedrich Gauss |

The great mathematician would have been 238 years old today, but there was a time that he did not know the date of his birth. Gauss was born to poor, working-class parents, and his mother was not quite literate. She did not record the date of Gauss's birth. Years later, she could just recall that Gauss was born on a Wednesday, and it was 8 days before Ascension Day, which lies on the calendar 40 days after Easter Sunday.

Gauss knew he was born about a month after Easter |

Before Gauss's discovery of a simple algorithm, astronomers were required to use a series of complicated tables to determine the date of astronomical occurances. In 1799, Gauss managed to create a surprisingly easy to use system to determine Easter sunday (my favorite description of the math behind the algorithm is here). At the age of 22, Gauss finally determined his birth date.

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