## Posts Tagged ‘**history of mathematics**’

## Teach your children well…

Your correspondent is headed again across the Dateline (where he loses all track of what day it actually is), thus (R)D will be in abeyance until March 9 or 10, when “service” will resume again.

In the meantime, a message from the past to the future…

In 1959, philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic Bertrand Russell appeared on the BBC interview program *Face-to-Face*. As the program came to its final two minutes, he was asked a valedictory question: “What would you tell a generation living 1,000 years from now about the life you’ve lived and the lessons you’ve learned?”…

[TotH to **Open Culture**]

**As we do our level best to take good advice,** we might recall that it was on this date in 1611 (81 years before the beginning of a case Russell might have cited, the **Salem Witch Trials**, on this date in 1692) that John Pell was born. An English mathematician of accomplishment, he is perhaps most remembered for having introduced the “division sign”– the obelus: a short line with dots above and below– into use in English. It was first used in German by Johann Rahn in 1659 in *Teutsche Algebra*; Pell’s translation brought the symbol to English-speaking mathematicians. Indeed, Pell was an important influence on Rahn, and edited his book– so may well have been, many scholars believe, the originator of the symbol for this use. (In any case the symbol wasn’t new to them: the obelus [derived from the word for “roasting spit” in Greek] had already been used to mark passages in writings that were considered dubious, corrupt or spurious…. a use that surely seems only too familiar to legions of second and third grade math students.)

John Pell (*source*)

Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 1, 2011 at 1:01 am

## Paradoxically…

Suppose there is a town with just one male barber; and that every man in the town keeps himself clean-shaven: some by shaving themselves, some by attending the barber. It seems reasonable to imagine that the barber obeys the following rule: He shaves all and only those men in town who do not shave themselves. Under this scenario, we can ask the following question: Does the barber shave himself?

From Epimenides’ Paradox to the Omnipotence Paradox, more fun-with-logic at “**Brain Twisting Paradoxes**.”

**As we return to first principles,** we might wish a carefully-reasoned Joyeux Anniversaire to Félix-Édouard-Justin-Émile Borel, a mathematician and pioneer of measure theory and its application to probability theory; he was born in Saint-Affrique on this date in 1871. Borel is perhaps best remembered by (if not for) his thought experiment demonstrating that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard will– with absolute certainty– eventually type every book in the Bibliothèque Nationale (or, as oft repeated, every play in the works of Shakespeare, or…)– that is, **the infinite monkey theorem**.

*Borel **(image source)*

Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 7, 2011 at 1:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with Émile Borel, Baraber Paradox, brain twisters, Epimenides, Epimenides’ Paradox, Félix-Édouard-Justin-Émile Borel, history of mathematics, infinite monkey theorem, logic, logic puzzles, Mathematics, measure theory, Omnipotence Paradox, paradox, paradoxes, probability theory

## When the facts are just too confusing…

**Fake Science** to the rescue, with entries both informative…

and useful…

More, at **Fake Science**.

**As we try to remember how to spell “paramecium,”** we might recall that this is the birthday of the first woman in the Western world considered to be a mathematician: Maria Gaetana Agnesi, born this date in 1718. While she thought and wrote broadly about natural science and philosophy, she is best remembered for her work in differential calculus– perhaps most particularly for her work on the cubic curve now know as the “witch of Agnesi.”

Written by (Roughly) Daily

May 16, 2010 at 12:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with Agnesi, calculus, color blindness, cubic curve, facts, Fake Science, history of mathematics, Maria Agnesi, Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Mathematics, Science, wind power, witch of agnesi

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