17 posts tagged with Mathematics and history. (View popular tags)
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How can nothing can be something?

While the concept of shunya or "zero", both as place holder in the decimal system and as "null" or "nothingness" has been historically attributed to the Indian mathematician/astronomer Aryabhata, it was when I went to search for its history and impact that whole new world was revealed. From culture and art to spiritual practice, the concept of zero has captured the imagination of many throughout the ages. Books have been written, its origins debated while the etymology of the word itself sometimes replaces understanding. From a disconcerting concept of nothingness to the ubiquitous misspelling of the one followed by a hundred zeros, Shunya today is more than just the gaping void it originally represented.
posted by infini on Feb 7, 2014 - 55 comments


Computerized Math, Formal Proofs and Alternative Logic

Using computer systems for doing mathematical proofs - "With the proliferation of computer-assisted proofs that are all but impossible to check by hand, Hales thinks computers must become the judge." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Mar 16, 2013 - 25 comments

Give or take

The origins of plus and minus signs - "There be other 2 signes in often use of which the first is made thus + and betokeneth more: the other is thus made – and betokeneth lesse."
posted by spbmp on Mar 12, 2013 - 30 comments

What is the smallest prime?

What is the smallest prime? "It seems that the number two should be the obvious answer, and today it is, but it was not always so. There were times when and mathematicians for whom the numbers one and three were acceptable answers. To find the first prime, we must also know what the first positive integer is. Surprisingly, with the definitions used at various times throughout history, one was often not the first positive integer (some started with two, and a few with three). In this article, we survey the history of the primality of one, from the ancient Greeks to modern times. We will discuss some of the reasons definitions changed, and provide several examples. We will also discuss the last significant mathematicians to list the number one as prime."
posted by escabeche on Sep 18, 2012 - 61 comments

A Shory Biography of Emmy Noether

Amalie Noether: The Mighty Mathematician You’ve Never Heard Of
posted by jjray on Mar 27, 2012 - 49 comments

Technically elegant but nearly forgotten

Ron Doerfler's Dead Reckonings - Lost Art in the Mathematical Sciences is a collection of essays, in weblog format, on historical techniques in mathematical sciences, antique scientific instruments and other related topics. [more inside]
posted by tykky on Aug 1, 2011 - 21 comments

i + e = δ

144 sites for online education. Categories include science and health, business and money, history and culture, law, computer science, mathematics, and languages. [more inside]
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Jul 18, 2011 - 19 comments

A Brief History of Mathematics

A Brief History of Mathematics is a BBC series of ten fifteen-minute podcasts by Professor Marcus du Sautoy about the history of mathematics from Newton and Leibniz to Nicolas Bourbaki, the pseudonym of a group of French 20th Century mathematicians. Among those covered by Professor du Sautoy are Euler, Fourier and Poincaré. The podcasts also include short interviews with people such as Brian Eno and Roger Penrose.
posted by Kattullus on Dec 1, 2010 - 11 comments

The Philosophers' Game

Rithmomachia: the Philosophers' Game. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jun 28, 2010 - 14 comments

MacTutor History of Mathematics archive

The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive is an astounding collection of historical material on mathematics, especially biographies. (Previously: 1 2 3 4.)
posted by parudox on Feb 28, 2009 - 5 comments

The Pope with the Robotic Head

Gerbert D'Aurillac: mathemetician and engineer, Pope, ghost, and meddler with dark forces. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Nov 1, 2007 - 17 comments

The scholarship on whether Pythagoras wrote "Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit" remains inconclusive.

Everything you know about Pythagoras is wrong (except the bit about the beans). Less the golden-thighed Einstein of the Ancient World and more the L. Ron Hubbard of Magna Graecia. [Last link has some rude words]
posted by Kattullus on Feb 22, 2007 - 41 comments

The Difference Engine

Charles Babbage's Difference Engines. One built in 1853. A subsequent design completed in 1991. And again in Lego. Both designs recreated in Meccano parts. [more inside]
posted by slimepuppy on Apr 26, 2006 - 11 comments

noe .2. thynges, can be moare equalle.

"To avoide the tediouse repetition of these woordes: is equalle to: I will settle as I doe often in woorke use, a paire of paralleles, or gemowe lines of one lengthe: ======, bicause noe .2. thynges, can be moare equalle." Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde (1510–1558) invented the equals sign in his 1557 work The Whetstone of Witte, which also introduced "Zenzizenzizenzic", the eighth power of a number. Recorde had advocated the + and – symbols in his 1540 work The Grounde of Artes. He died in debtor's prison in 1558. Read, watch, or listen to a recent lecture that links the equals sign to developments in art, navigation, and astronomy. (Wikipedia)
posted by goatdog on Dec 16, 2005 - 14 comments

A New Chronology?

The mathematician Anatoly Fomenko is one of a number of Russian academics advancing revisionist chronologies which portray a greatly foreshortened view of European history. He argues that mediaeval and classical histories as we know them today were fabricated in Renaissance times. In his book 'History: Fiction or Science', he 'proves' that Jesus Christ was born in 1053 and crucified in 1086, and that the Old Testament refers to mediaeval events... Fomenko's theories have been debunked, but his ideas have nevertheless gained some currency in Russia: among his supporters is the former chess champion Garry Kasparov. Of course, Fomenko is by no means the first mathematician to grapple with the subject of chronology: indeed, any history must be founded in part on a calculus of dates... Are there any parallels, I wonder, between the spread of theories like Fomenko's and the renewed prevalence of Biblical chronologies in the US, for example: is there some kind of psychological solace in perceiving history on a smaller scale than current academic orthodoxy allows? (more inside).
posted by misteraitch on Mar 2, 2004 - 50 comments

A treasure trove of math history

The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive from the University of St. Andrews' School of Mathematics and Statistics.
posted by wobh on Dec 30, 2003 - 3 comments

Women Mathematicians.

Women Mathematicians. With numerous biographies and photographs, this website indexes the many contributions that women have made to the field of mathematics. From Pythagoras' wife Theano and martyr Hypatia, also notable are the first female computer programmer and the first female Ph.D. recipient.
posted by moz on Oct 9, 2002 - 17 comments

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