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View Diary: “He’s a great science teacher, but he doesn’t believe in evolution.” (45 comments)

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  •  Its hard to discover something for the first time (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    samddobermann, Stwriley

    Simply because the Greeks of Alexandria probably discovered it already.  Steam power, algebra, parametric driven design, complex gearing, blueprints, mass-production, interchangeable parts.  Most of it was done for weapons building.  There was an astonishing article in Scientific American a few decades back on this.  Let me google...

    I read this article as a young man way back in 1979.  Changed my life...  Check out the repeating catapult with gravity feed and complex chain-driven timing.  Given a few more centuries and better metallurgy, they'd have had the internal combustion engine!

    If only slaves weren't so cheap.

    •  No, algebra dates to the Islamic world. (0+ / 0-)

      A lot of that other stuff was done by the Greeks of Alexandria, but there's good evidence that algebra -- the use of an "unknown" or "unknowns" and the manipulation of equations and inequalities with the unknowns in them according to systematic rules -- didn't actually exist until the writings of Al-Khwarezmi (from whom we get the word "algorithm").  Algebra developed to a high degree in the Islamic world before being imported to Italy during the Renaissance, where they invented the idea of using a letter to represent the unknown ("x"), which is arguably the first mathematical development out of Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire.

      It's amazing how much you can do without algebra however.  There's a lot of ancient math which looks a lot like algebra if you're not paying close attention, but actually isn't (it's missing the key abstractions).  Arithmetic and geometry were developed to a huge degree by the ancient Greeks.

      -5.63, -8.10. Learn about Duverger's Law.

      by neroden on Thu Nov 26, 2009 at 02:52:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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