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Pythagorean Theorem proof

By | 2017-09-25T10:25:04+00:00 September 25th, 2017|Greeks, Math|

A right triangle. This is the proof of the Pythagorean Theorem supposedly written by Pythagoras about 500 BC: The Pythagorean Theorem says that in a right triangle, the sum of the squares of the two right-angle sides will always be the same as the square of the hypotenuse (the long side). A2 + B2 = C2. Try it yourself: if Side [...]

West Asian numbers – Ancient Mesopotamia

By | 2017-09-16T12:39:12+00:00 September 16th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

Neolithic counting tokens The earliest way of writing down numbers was to carve notches in tally sticks, and this method spread from Africa all over Europe and Asia. But by about 9000 BC, people in West Asia began to use a different method of counting. Instead of tally sticks, people made clay tokens in different shapes. The shapes meant different [...]

Babylonian math problem – West Asian science

By | 2017-09-16T12:10:30+00:00 September 16th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

A real Babylonian math problem on a clay tablet This is a real math problem assigned to Babylonian kids in Iraq about 1900 BC. See if you can do it! Here's the problem: Suppose you have two equilateral triangles, one inside the other. Can you figure out the area of the space between the two triangles? [...]

West Asian mathematics – history of math

By | 2017-09-16T12:05:41+00:00 September 16th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

Sumerian multiplication table (2700 BC) Once people in West Asia figured out how to write down numbers, about 3500 BC, they quickly began to want to use cuneiform to write down other mathematical ideas. The earliest example of this that we have is from about 2700 BC. It shows a multiplication table to help people figure out the area of a space by multiplying width [...]

West Asian science – Mesopotamia and Iran

By | 2017-09-15T23:16:03+00:00 September 15th, 2017|Science, West Asia|

The constellation Orion From the Stone Age through the Islamic empires, great scientific discoveries have streamed out of West Asia. West Asia is one of the places where farming got started, and maybe the sailboat. The Sumerians developed the world's earliest system of writing, including the first way to write down numbers. They invented the wheel, using it as a pottery [...]

Roman numeral answers – Roman math

By | 2017-09-04T21:37:29+00:00 September 4th, 2017|Math, Romans|

Roman tax collector calculating someone's taxes on an abacus (Metz, ca. 225 AD) Did you figure it out? Poor Claudia died when she was 25 years old, seven months, and fourteen days. It's very likely that she died giving birth to a baby, though it could have been dysentery or cancer or another [...]

Roman numerals – Ancient Roman numbers

By | 2017-09-04T18:16:56+00:00 September 4th, 2017|Math, Romans, Science|

Claudia Pieris' tombstone (CIL VI.15543) She lived 117-138 AD. Now in Copenhagen, at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. The Romans used several different systems for writing numbers. Sometimes they wrote numbers like this: I II III IV V and other times they used the Greek numbers. Roman people didn't always write numbers the same way, [...]

European science – the Enlightenment

By | 2017-08-07T21:37:41+00:00 August 7th, 2017|Math, Modern Europe, Physics, Science|

Gottfried Leibniz, a German mathematician By 1650 AD, Europeans understood Islamic algebra and trigonometry better. Then they combined that with the exciting invention of the telescope and microscope. Together, these two new things led to a lot more new scientific discoveries. The Wars of Religion also got a lot of people thinking about what they really believed. How could you know for sure? [...]

Simone de Beauvoir – European philosophy

By | 2017-08-06T19:47:49+00:00 August 6th, 2017|Modern Europe, Philosophy|

Simone de Beauvoir Simone de Beauvoir's family lost most of their money after World War I. But by the early 1900s, even struggling families tried to send their daughters to school. De Beauvoir and her sister went to a good convent school. De Beauvoir thought of becoming a nun. But when she was 14 years old, [...]

Medieval math in Europe

By | 2017-08-04T13:22:07+00:00 August 4th, 2017|Math, Medieval|

Math was a very exciting subject to be working on during the Middle Ages in Europe. Little by little, math experts in Europe were learning from Islamic math experts about what we call Arabic numbers (0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9) (though the numbers came originally from India). Leaning Tower of Pisa (built while Fibonacci was a child) The first of these experts was Adelard [...]