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142

Lyon's theory is rather flawed. First of all, the Etymologiae was written in the 7th century. Just because one paragraph from one chapter in the book might possibly be construed as implying a flat earth, does not mean serious scholars for the next 1,000 years all believe the earth to be flat. Without direct evidence of medieval scholars calling the Earth ...


87

Einstein was born in Germany, speaking German. The Universität Bern is a university in Switzerland. The local language in Bern at the time was Swiss German, the written language in use was German. At that time Einstein published in German, as did the other German physicists. Even today, the Universität Bern communicates with students in German, unless ...


86

As pointed out by tohuwawohu in a comment to the question (later moved to chat), the University of Bern has publicly rebutted this as a forgery, and not even a very good one (also Internet Archive copy): There is currently a forged letter going round on the internet. In the alleged historical writing of 1907, the University of Bern rejects Albert Einstein’...


72

Thomas Aquinas wrote a number of works in the 13th century, some of which were introductory (at least to medieval students - less so to today's students, who are not familiar with scholastic terminology). Most of these would have been read by many, if not most, scholars during their Trivium studies. One of these works, well-known to this day, is the Summa ...


70

The Status of the Metric in the United States Strictly speaking, the US has been "metric" since the Mendenhall Order, issued in 1893. The inch is defined as exactly 2.54 centimeters, the pound (mass) is exactly 0.45359237 kilograms, the pound force is exactly 4.4482216152605 newtons, and so on. The conversion factors have changed a bit since 1893, but that ...


50

At least regarding when, we can see with Google Books Ngrams. First let's look at "atomic energy" vs. "nuclear energy": In the 1940s, both terms were in use, but "atomic energy" was the far more common one, by about factor of 10 in the late 1940s and by a factor of 4 in the late 1950s. But the popularity of "atomic energy&...


49

It is actually a bit of a myth that everyone believed the world to be flat until Columbus. It is true that a lot of ancient societies believed that as a matter of cultural mythology. This was true both for the ancient Greeks as well as the ancient Indians. However, any ancient navigator who looked to the horizon on the sea on a calm day could clearly see ...


47

Well, it isn't exactly true that medieval scholars understood the world to be round. They were much, much more subtle in their thinking that that. You see, it was quite clear that the world couldn't be precisely round, and much of their thinking went into improving that model. To see why the medieval view was much more subtle than authors like Lyon even ...


47

Yes, and no. A 2003 survey paper "Sonic Boom Research: History and Future" by Plotkin and Maglieri says they were predicted by Mach in the 1870s, were known as "ballistic waves" when caused by artillery shells. (See also this and this, which have some historical references, but none obviously connected with Yeager's flight. They do cite a seminal 1946 ...


44

One man's lock is another man's puzzle. Combination locks have been used since at least ancient Rome. Whether the lock uses numbers or letters (or other symbols), the combination to be entered may be set based on a riddle or some other piece of knowledge as a mnemonic. The lock is meant to be solved at some future time by someone who has the correct ...


43

Edit: As pointed out in the comments, I realize this answer doesn't deal with the history of metrication in America. I intended it only as an answer to "why does the US keep using their systems?" However, other answers here do a very good job outlining the history, and I encourage everyone to check those out too. As a non-American, I've always found it ...


41

The Copper Scroll The Copper Scroll is a Dead Sea scroll found in 1952, unique in that it is of copper (with a little tin), has a list of 63 or 64 locations of treasure with "obscure hints of the locations". Although it was initially disputed whether or not the list was historical rather than legendary, a scholarly consensus seems to be emerging that ...


40

Anaxagoras (500 BCE–428 BCE): Anaxagoras brought philosophy and the spirit of scientific inquiry from Ionia to Athens. His observations of the celestial bodies and the fall of meteorites led him to form new theories of the universal order. He attempted to give a scientific account of eclipses, meteors, rainbows, and the sun, which he described as a mass of ...


40

SHORT ANSWER Jodrell Bank's first 'coup', tracking Sputnik 1 in 1957 (without Soviet assistance), put it in the news and helped secure funding. It also led to a congratulatory telegram from the Soviets. After doubts were expressed about Luna 1 (Jan 1959) being real, the Soviets sent the coordinates for Luna 2 (Sept 1959) to Jodrell Bank head Bernard Lovell ...


39

The claim was made by Alexander Dalrymple in his book An Account of the Discoveries Made in The South Pacifick Ocean, Previous to 1764 (An ebook version is available from Google Books). Dalrymple's belief was based primarily on his translations of Spanish documents captured in the Philippines in 1762, in particular, those describing Luis Vaez de Torres' ...


38

Theses minerals were confused because they are quite similar in appearance, attributes and possible usage. Graphite was previously called plumbago meaning the mineral Galena also called lead glance, which is a lead containing ore, not pure lead (plumbum). The density of pure lead glance (PbS) is only 7.60 g/cm3. They both look really similar and were indeed ...


37

As Stephen Burnap has already explained, it is unlikely that Newton would even have heard of the Salem Witch Trials. As for Newton's personal beliefs on the subject of witchcraft, I think most people are now aware that Newton studied alchemy. As a result, there has been more interest in his belief, or otherwise, in "related", non-scientific subjects. ...


34

It's a big assumption that they knew. At the time, Salem was the middle of nowhere, with a colony founded specifically to keep to itself. The trials themselves would likely not have attracted much attention, especially since witch trials were happening all through Europe during that period. In the 250 years before 1750, around 40,000 witches were executed ...


30

How often were Jews barred from academic and social clubs in the early 20th century? Feynman's experience was hardly unique: At the turn of the twentieth century, quota requirements limited Jews’ matriculation in college and forced them to compete against one another for the few spots elite colleges had reserved for such students. At that time, Jewish ...


28

The observation that apples fall to the ground is not significant in itself. What matters is the conceptual jump that Newton performed, while (as he reports) sitting in his garden. Before Newton, the conundrum was expressed as: "if apples fall, why does the Moon stay in the sky ?". The breakthrough was Newton suddenly realizing that it was the wrong question:...


28

There's no universally recognised "father of scientific racism", though a number of names could be suggested. One example is the French noble Arthur de Gobineau, best remembered today for pioneering the concept of an Aryan master race. His infamous An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races, published in 1853, inspired a host of other racial theories ...


27

Firstly, it is important to be aware that our understanding of the civilisations and culture of Pre-Columbian America is far from complete. Secondly, I don't propose to attempt to cover every civilisation, so this will - at best - be only a partial answer. However, with those caveats: As far as I am aware, we have no evidence that any pre-Columbian ...


26

You can see De sphaera mundi by the astronomer Johannes de Sacrobosco (c. 1195 – c. 1256) : "it was one of the most influential works of pre-Copernican astronomy in Europe. Though principally about the universe, De sphaera contains a clear description of the Earth as a sphere which agrees with widespread opinion in Europe during the higher Middle Ages, ...


23

(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 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 seemed ...


21

Stalin took ideology seriously... He started the Soviet meme "на идеологии мы не экономим" ("we don't skimp on ideology"). He also believed that "Учение Маркса всесильно, потому что оно верно" ("The teachings of Marx is omnipotent because it is true"). He also understood the critical importance of science and technology. He also continued the age-old ...


21

There doesn't need to be any particular event in 1914. The starting and ending dates of historical periods are, to varying extents, generally somewhat arbitrary. It is relatively easy to point at the peak of a movement. At which does its rise constitutes the start of an era, and by which point can we classify its decline as an end, is much more opinion based....


21

I was wondering if there was any actual science behind it: Is there anywhere a measure of scientific discovery per unit time? Do we have anywhere a scale of scientific knowledge and if so, what is it based on? No. There is no "scientific knowledge" or "scientific discovery" measurable indicator that can be used to compare modern times with the Middle ...


21

As Denis observed in the comments above, for many countries, gold would have been traded through securities in the first half of the twentieth century. In those cases the physical transfer of the gold would indeed have been the exception, rather than the rule. That said, there would undoubtedly have been a great many cases where gold was transferred as ...


21

Medieval Scholars were much more sophisticated than they are usually given credit for. Knowledge of the shape of the Earth were never really "lost". Apart from their own observations, there were also classical works that supported this view. During late antiquity, Boethius had access to Ptolemy, even if it later was forgotten and had to be reintroduced to ...


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