[LMB] OT: Dark Ages [not], was, What makes ...

Karen Hunt huntkc at gmail.com
Mon Aug 26 12:48:23 BST 2019


On Mon, Aug 26, 2019 at 1:56 AM baur baur <baur at chello.at> wrote:

>
> > Eric Oppen <ravenclaweric at gmail.com> hat am 26. August 2019 um 06:41
> geschrieben:
>

[a snippage has occurred]

>
> > One thing that limited most pre-medieval science was the fact that they
> > didn't have a numeration system that was much good for anything beyond
> > simple arithmetic.  Imagine trying to do advanced math in Roman numerals
> > sometime...or maybe not.  Down that path lies madness, decay and
> summoning
> > the Great Old Ones to eat everybody.  Until Arabic numerals came in,
> > mathematics was necessarily limited.
>
> practical / applied mathematics were limited ..
>
> theoretical mathematics were doing fine with wonky numeral systems - look
> what the greeks did with theirs .
>

Indeed, I was considering stating this myself.

But it's worth noting: they were heavily geometry-centered in their
mathematics; I doubt they would have gotten much further along towards
calculus than they did without the ability to manipulate algebraic formulas.

They could do amazing things with their diagrams and reasoning, including
some fascinating forays into number theory, but the lack of algebraic
notation (partly a result of their yucky numeral system) hindered matters.

Karen Hunt


More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list