Questions tagged [18th-century]

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18
votes
2answers
1k views

Was 18th century algebra more symbolic/formal than the modern conception?

I've found Lagrange's Sur la résolution des équations algébriques to be a very confusing and difficult read, and I think I'm starting to see why: it seems that Lagrange thinks of algebra in a much ...
15
votes
4answers
478 views

Why were 18th century mathematicians interested in extending the factorial to non-integers?

As far as I understand, the Gamma function was developped as a way of calculating "the" factorial of a non-integer number. Why did this problem interest 18th century mathematicians? Was it just a ...
15
votes
1answer
484 views

Why did 18th century writers think that Mars had 2 satellites?

At least two 18th century writers wrote that Mars has two satellites: Swift in Gulliver's travels (1726) and Voltaire in Micromégas (1752). How did they guess this? Was Voltaire repeating Swift's ...
9
votes
1answer
163 views

What was the scientific explanation of earthquakes in the 18th century?

I'd like to know what western scientists thought about the causes of earthquakes in the mid to late 18th century (especially pertaining to the one in Lisbon in 1755). I've read that the ancient Greeks ...
5
votes
1answer
451 views

When William Herschel discovered Uranus, who else at the time had a comparable telescope?

William Herschel built a big telescope and observed Uranus in 1781. I'm trying to figure out who else had a comparable telescope at the time, who could verify these observations? Apparently Johan ...
5
votes
2answers
162 views

Why were the first steam engines “atmospheric engines”

Anybody who has boiled water knows that a positive pressure builds up when steam is produced. Indeed the first conceptual design of a steam engine (the Aeolipile) was a "positive pressure" engine. The ...
4
votes
1answer
112 views

What was the first "scientific", non-photographic depiction of Earth as seen from outside of Earth?

For a long time now, I've been thinking about this: when was the first painting, illustration or depiction of any kind where our planet Earth is seen as a sphere in space? Possibly even from the Moon? ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

What was the reason for the immense progress of mathematics in 18th century?

The 18th century had sought a huge, immense progress in mathematics. As late as 17th century people still wrote algebraic equations with words. But by the end of 18th century we had Mathematical ...
3
votes
1answer
272 views

Did Euler produce any Russian text?

According to Wikipedia, Euler (1707-1783) "mastered Russian and settled into life in Saint Petersburg" in 1727. Did he produce any text in Russian, either mathematical or personal? On The ...
2
votes
1answer
78 views

Lunar distance measurement reference

While preparing trigonometric exercises for my students, I learned that, in 1771, French astronomers determined the distance of the Moon from the Earth by measuring the appropriate angles from both ...
2
votes
1answer
171 views

When did mathematicians suspect that $\pi$ is irrational?

The title says it all. The irrationality of $\pi$ was proved by Lambert in the 18th century, but the Greeks at the time of Pythagoras already knew that $\sqrt2$ and the golden ratio were irrational. ...
2
votes
2answers
197 views

18th century childbirth — does anyone know anything about the tools or process?

I am starting a PhD on childbirth in the 18th century and was scheduled to meet a doctor of medicine who specialised in 18th medicine and history. However, this has fallen through and I really wanted ...
1
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0answers
106 views

Where was statistics taught in the 17th and 18th centuries?

Here is a fragment from Anders Hald's A History of Probability and Statistics and Their Applications before 1750: The original meaning of statistics is thus a collection of facts of interest to a ...