It’s all a question of angles.

I couldn’t resist reblogging this fascinating post on the origins of trigonometry by the inestimable Thony Christie..

The Renaissance Mathematicus

Thomas Paine (1736–1809) was an eighteenth-century political radical famous, or perhaps that should be infamous, for two political pamphlets, Common Sense (1776) and Rights of Man (1791) (he also wrote many others) and for being hounded out of England for his political views and taking part in both the French and American Revolutions.

Portrait_of_Thomas_Paine Thomas Paine portrait of Laurent Dabos c. 1792 Source: Wikimedia Commons

So I was more than somewhat surprised when Michael Brooks, author of the excellent The Quantum Astrologer’s Handbook, posted the following excerpt from Paine’s The Age of Reason, praising trigonometry as the soul of science:

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My first reaction to this beautiful quote was that he could be describing this blog, as the activities he names, astronomy, navigation, geometry, land surveying make up the core of the writings on here. This is not surprising as Ivor Grattan-Guinness in his single volume survey of the history…

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3 Responses to “It’s all a question of angles.”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    “…this grand book — I mean the universe… cannot
    be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the
    language… in which it is written. It is written in the
    language of mathematics
    ” – Galileo, Il Saggiatore [The Assayer], 1623. BY mathematics he undoubtedly meant geometry in the context of his essay.

    • “Ubi materia, ibi geometeria” – Kepler

      • I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.

        —William Thomson, Lord Kelvin

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