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Questions tagged [debunking]

For questions about finding the truth in claims that give good reason to be skeptical.

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19 votes
2 answers
1k views

Pythagoras vs. the idea of Pythagoras

Maybe we need some replies on current scholarly thinking. (Judging from some replies here, many of us are still using the myths current 100 years ago.) Is it true (as I have heard) that most, if not ...
Gerald Edgar's user avatar
  • 10.4k
25 votes
3 answers
5k views

Is Millikan's famous oil drop experiment a fraud?

I read in my mechanics textbook written by Goodstein that Robert Millikan cherry-picked his data in his famous oil drop experiment, and now I'm left wondering about the scientific value of his results....
Shing's user avatar
  • 664
12 votes
1 answer
1k views

Did Cauchy forget or lose mathematical papers aside from Abel's and Galois's?

Augustin-Louis Cauchy was a prolific writer, his writings range widely in mathematics and mathematical physics. As a professor at École Polytechnique he came in contact and reviewed Abel's and Galois' ...
Ziezi's user avatar
  • 365
11 votes
5 answers
3k views

Who gets credit for the real numbers?

If Simon Stevin already pioneered the unending decimal representation for every number (rational, surd, etc.) at the end of the 16th century, why do Cantor and Dedekind (who certainly gave a more ...
Mikhail Katz's user avatar
  • 6,052
9 votes
2 answers
2k views

Did Poincaré say that set theory is a disease?

This question has been discussed on several sites including MathOverflow but with not definite result. Presumely HSE is best suited. Jeremy Gray denies that Poincare said, "Later generations will ...
user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
2k views

Has Chinese Remainder Theorem ever been used by Chinese military?

The Chinese Remainder Theorem says, in rough terms, that if you know the remainders of an integer $n$ modulo $m_1,m_2,\dots,m_r$, you also know $n$ modulo $\mathrm{lcm}(m_1,m_2,\dots,m_r)$. In the ...
Jakub Konieczny's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

What is the origin of the cut and weigh method of integration, is it Galileo's?

I recently heard a story of a clever method of approximating an integral which, instead of using numerical techniques, relied on physically drawing out the graph of a function, cutting it out, and ...
Peter Woolfitt's user avatar
17 votes
3 answers
2k views

Did light bulb companies commission Planck to study black body radiation?

Background When introducing Planck's switch to looking at black-body radiation, a number of sources -- like MinutePhysics, the Economist, random online encyclopaedias and even here on HSM.SE (plus ...
Artem Kaznatcheev's user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
575 views

Hawking on Newton and the famed apple

If I recall correctly, Stephen Hawking mentioned in A Brief History of Time that Newton remarked once that the famed apple actually distracted him from his lucubrations. Does anybody know where it ...
José Hdz. Stgo.'s user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
7k views

On Einstein's proof of the so-called Pythagorean theorem

Part I In E. Maor's book [2, p. 117] we read that, somewhere in his Autobiographical Notes, Einstein wrote this: An uncle told me about the Pythagorean theorem before the holy geometry booklet had ...
José Hdz. Stgo.'s user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why is the Sophie Germain Identity called thus?

Several authors (z.B.: Arthur Engel in his Problem-Solving Strategies, Alexander Bogomolny in this entry of the Cut the Knot website) refer to the following (straightforward) consequence of the ...
José Hdz. Stgo.'s user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
607 views

What is the evidence for the existence of Geber?

In an unrelated question, some users started arguing about the existence of Geber (Jabir ibn Hayyan - جابر بن حيّان) from 806−816 AD and pseudo-Geber (probably from 13th-14th century). This ...
Mauricio's user avatar
  • 3,937
4 votes
4 answers
799 views

Did Kronecker attribute immutable origin to the integers?

The familiar quote is often incorrectly attributed to Kronecker directly. Actually a colleague of his named Weber claimed after Kronecker's death that Kronecker said this. I have doubts about this ...
Mikhail Katz's user avatar
  • 6,052
1 vote
1 answer
402 views

Looking for a specific story about young Stephen Hawking

There was a specific account of Stephen Hawking by one of his contemporaries in which Hawking was in his late undergrad or early postgrad. As I remember, there was a small class of physics students (...
Ingolifs's user avatar
  • 227