Tag Info

Hot answers tagged

20

If the following seems too long, you can directly jump at the end for the conclusion ins the TL;DR section. I'm not an historian and (almost) everything I tell below comes from internet research. More precisely, the whole stuff I tell below finds its source in various articles by the assyriologist Jens Høyrup. The king and the chess board in Indian and ...


20

Tally sticks were credit-based money used by the King of England from roughly the XIII to the XIX century. The idea was quite simple: in a credit based system, you have to find a way to represent the credit which is uncounterfeitable and cheap to produce. It also had to have no value as an object, otherwise you can have a market for the object rather than ...


19

I found about 50 different sources for your quote, all verbatim copies of each other and without any indication of which those tablets were, who discovered them or any hint to catalogue numbers. I truly hate the internet sometimes, please treat this answer as a guess, there's no way to verify exactly which tablets the quote is about. One of the tablets is ...


18

(This is an incomplete answer since I don't know which eclipse specifically was predicted, nor how it compares to the rest of the world. But it is s too long for a comment.) Because of their cultural association of governmental legitimacy with astronomical / geophysical omens, ancient China was rather obsessed with predicting eclipses. Attempts to do so ...


13

The earliest record (I have) found (searching the Internet) is the Persian Book Shahnameh, of which I know nothing more than the Wikipedia entry: The Shahnameh or Shah-nama (Persian: شاهنامه‎ Šāhnāmeh, "The Book of Kings") is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c. 977 and 1010 AD and is the national epic of Iran and related ...


10

They used lots of very large, very heavy stones. You will note that these constructions did not have large internal air pockets relative to volume. They qualify as monuments or fortifications more than inhabitable buildings with a decent amount of floorspace. Having arches or domes or any large enclosed internal space was considered the height of ...


10

You weren't kidding. I found those exact two sentences plagerized verbatim all over the Internet. Truly sad. I did manage to find a least a couple of references with more information though. The Handy Math Answer Book was not only original enough to modify the sentence a bit, but included some alternate dates, and a very nice extra aside about one object ...


8

Eratosthene's calculations did turn out to be quite accurate. This was mostly a matter of luck though. He in fact had two major errors, that just happened to cancel each other out. It is also a fact that nobody is sure how big his unit of distance was, and it is only now after the fact that we can take one of the possibilities and say he was only 2% off. It ...


8

Yes, there was such a bill, known as Indiana Pi Bill, but it was never approved by the State. You can find a very interesting article on the matter, written by Arthur E. Hallerburg, in the text of Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science. Search for the phrase House Bill No. 246 Revisited. The whole affair started in 1894, when American Mathematical ...


7

Johannes of Palermo was a scholar in Frederick II's court. Frederick was aware of Fibonacci's work, and perhaps even an admirer. In 1225 when Frederick's court met in Pisa, Fibonacci was invited to demonstrate his works. I can't find a source for when exactly Johannes of Palermo posed his problems, but the two men certainly met in Pisa and Johannes posed his ...


6

Diogenes Laërtius mentions several of Pythagoras' travels and he mentions that the philosopher visited the Chaldeans and the Magi: ἐγένετ' οὖν ἐν Αἰγύπτῳ, ὁπηνίκα καὶ Πολυκράτης αὐτὸν Ἀμάσιδι συνέστησε δι' ἐπιστολῆς· καὶ ἐξέμαθε τὴν φωνὴν αὐτῶν, καθά φησιν Ἀντιφῶν ἐν τῷ Περὶ τῶν ἐν ἀρετῇ πρωτευσάντων, καὶ παρὰ Χαλδαίοις ἐγένετο καὶ Μάγοις. εἶτ' ἐν Κρήτῃ ...


6

The 1877 work by Richard Lepsius entitled Die Babylonisch-Assyrischen Langenmafe Nach Der Tafel Von Senkereh states that the two tablets you refer to (of squares and cubes) were discovered by Loftus in 1854 and at that time they were in the collection at the British Museum. It also states that Rawlinson and Smith's work of 1875 on cuneiform inscriptions, ...


4

This paper (in .pdf) argues against ancient Chinese mathematics being aware of prime numbers. The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus, dating to the 15-16th century BCE, indicates an Egyptian knowledge of primes evidenced in their fractional system, but it's not definitive proof. It looks like the Greeks were indeed the first.


4

According to this article, Pope Sylvester II (Gerbert d'Aurillac, c943-1003), is credited with re-introducing the abacus into Europe without an explicit use of the number zero. This was because it had not been introduced in the European mathematical vocabulary (Fibonacci did this around 1202, and it took centuries for it to become established), rather than ...


4

Simply put, the decimal system is more convenient for most types of calculations. As you point out, there are systems that still use base 60. And there are others such as binary and hexadecimal which are applied in other areas where they are applicable. But the main reason for its decline is the unwieldiness. 60 as a base is difficult to use because you ...


4

Wikipedia has an informative article on the Saros cycle, which is used to predict eclipses. According to that page, and by extension apparently the pages to which it references, the Babylonians were recording the eclipses which describe the cycle in the sixth century BC. Apparently Hipparchus (second century BC), Pliny (first century AD) and Ptolemy (second ...


3

From a NASA answer: Ptolemy ( ca 150 BC)[sic] represents the epitome of Greecian astronomy, and surviving records show that he had a sophisticated scheme for predicting both lunar and solar eclipses. Ptolemy knew, for example, the details of the orbit of the Moon including its nodal points, and that the Sun must be within 20d 41' of the Node point, and ...


3

The Babylonian sexagesimal system is used by Ptolemy in his Almagest (2nd century AD) and by Arabic astronomers throughout the Middle Ages. The decimal numerals were introduced from India to the Muslim World in the 9th century AD, and later from the Near East to Europe. It took a long time for the “Indian” numbers to be accepted, but eventually people ...


3

The ancient Greeks discovered great swaths of mathematics by a process I would describe as "playing with shapes and numbers". I think that the golden ratio was discovered in just this fashion—more though playful experimentation than any particular need to be solved. Παρ' Εὐκλείδη τις ὰρξάμενος γεωμετρεῖν ὡς τὸ πρῶτον θεώρημα ἔμαθεν, ἤρετο τὸν ...


2

Hmmm. I find that "citation needed" to be a bit confusing. If it relates to the claim of prior invention, that is cited from La cifra del. Sig. Giovan Battista Bellaso right there, and David Kahn's book The Codebreakers later in the article. So the claim seems to be pretty well attributed to me. It almost looks like its saying they want a citation for the ...


2

This detailed article argues for the authenticity of Herodotus' report about Thales ecplise prediction in 585 BC. This is in any case a lot earlier than the Chinese material cited by Semaphore.


1

I am going to second dotancohen's answer somewhat. Hipparchus developed a comprehensive astronomy that accurately predicted eclipses and other astronomical events. Ptolemy's writings emanate from the tradition that was established by Hipparchus. Nevertheless, Hipparchus was certainly not the beginning of Greek astronomy. He simply formalized and improved ...



Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible