If you haven’t yet read the wonderful equation laden and stories filled book from mathematician Ian Stewart, then you better do. Here is our take on Ian’s latest publication.
For those who have read through our last post, it is time to dive a little into the magical world of equations. I for one, was curious to see what equations really did make huge strides for the human civilization and here are three that come to us from our high school math class.
The Pythagorean Theorem
We all know what it says and what it means especially with respect to a triangle. But did you know that the theorem has its roots way back in ancient civilization. Though not completely clear, it is said that Pythagoras was not the first to discover the theorem though he certainly is accredited for being the first person to solve this theorem.
Some historians actually believe that Euclid was the first person to prove this theorem though it is entirely possible that the concept existed nearly a millennium before around the Babylonian civilization.
As for its importance, it is entirely related to the realm of geometry with stable links in algebra. In fact, it is what trigonometry is completely based on. As for usage, without this equation navigation, map making, surveying would be impossible.
Making multiplication easier, you basically could add numbers together to arrive at the same result. It is believed that the concept was first found by John Napier, the Scottish Liard of Merchiston because he wanted to multiply large numbers that otherwise took quite a lot of time. He finally arrived on the logarithm table that made the process faster and easier. However, the modern version that we are so used to actually is credited to the refinements made by Henry Briggs.
In terms of importance Logarithms are critical in several revolutions for astronomers and engineers. While computers kind of made them redundant but before computers, it was how scientists did all their large calculations quickly.
Did you know that today logarithms still accurately describe the rate of radioactive decay!
The fundamental theorem of calculus, one which so many of us dreaded the first time we saw it, is in fact the most important of the three equations I want to introduce today. In layman’s term it basically describes the instantaneous rate of change.
Historians believe that the current form of Calculus is the brainchild of Gottfried Leibniz and Isaac Newton. While there are several other historians who debate over priority and plagiarism, both men are equally credited for this discovery.
In the words of Ian Stewart, calculus is what made the entire modern world. It is integral in almost anything and everything from understanding measurements of surfaces and volumes to the natural laws that govern the entire universe. Today calculus is essential not just to economics and computer science but also to the field of medicine!