(Roughly) Daily

“Mathematics is the art of giving the same name to different things”*…

 

A 3,700-year-old clay tablet has proven that the Babylonians developed trigonometry 1,500 years before the Greeks and were using a sophisticated method of mathematics which could change how we calculate today.

The tablet, known as Plimpton 332, was discovered in the early 1900s in Southern Iraq by the American archaeologist and diplomat Edgar Banks, who was the inspiration for Indiana Jones.

The true meaning of the tablet has eluded experts until now but new research by the University of New South Wales, Australia, has shown it is the world’s oldest and most accurate trigonometric table, which was probably used by ancient architects to construct temples, palaces and canals…

More of the remarkable story at “3,700-year-old Babylonian tablet rewrites the history of maths – and shows the Greeks did not develop trigonometry.”

* Henri Poincaré

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As we struggle to remember the difference between a sine and a cosine, we might recall that it was on this date in 1842 that the United States Naval Observatory was authorized by an act of Congress. One of the oldest scientific agencies in the U.S., its primary task was to care for the Navy’s charts, navigational instruments, and chronometers, which were calibrated by timing the transit of stars across the meridian.  It’s now probably best known as the home of the “Master Clock“, which provides precise time to the GPS satellite constellation run by the United States Air Force… and for its non-scientific mission: a house located within the Naval Observatory complex serves as the official residence of the Vice President of the United States.

Initially located at Foggy Bottom in the District of Columbia (near the current location of the State Department), the observatory moved in 1893 to its present near Embassy Row.

 source

 

Written by LW

August 31, 2017 at 1:01 am

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