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 -
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 -
"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 -
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 -