Questions tagged [social-context]

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4
votes
3answers
143 views

Did Renaissance mathematicians once consider themselves inferior to the great ancient mathematicians?

In the book "What Do You Care What Other People Think?", Feynman talks about how in the 16th century Niccolo Tartaglia discovered a solution to cubic equations. He says while this was not a major ...
2
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1answer
121 views

Why are revolutions per minute (RPM) still used instead of hertz (Hz)?

When did people start using Revolutions per Minute (RPM) to measure motors, engines, other devices and where did the term originate? Why do we continue to use it instead of an SI unit like Hz? From ...
5
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1answer
169 views

Where did the term “set-builder notation” come from?

In math stack exchange I often see notations like $\{x\in\mathbb Q:x^2<2\}$ being called instances of set builder notation. When I went to school we (that is, I, my fellow students, my teachers, ...
3
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1answer
148 views

How did Hagoromo Fulltouch chalk gain so much popularity among mathematicians in the West?

I recently read Hagoromo, the 'Rolls Royce of chalk,' continues writing its legacy in South Korea article recently, and was fascinated by the huge amount of attention this specific chalk is getting. ...
1
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1answer
85 views

What were the typical ways students were taught the elements when it remained the prime textbook of mathematics?

In modern textbooks, students are greeted with plenty of exercises. Usually they are also organized in such a way that you have examples and pointers to what concepts are most important. The elements ...
13
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11answers
733 views

Has a stereotypical “mad scientist” ever made a significant discovery?

Most people are familiar with the famous "mad scientist" trope from science fiction - the scientist who is typically a loner, often self-funded from family wealth, frequently mentally ill, engaged in ...
6
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9answers
297 views

Examples of papers co-authored by parent/child, or siblings

I hope this question is not inappropriate for this site; I found hsm.stackexchange better suited for it than MathOverflow or math.stackexchange. The motivation for it is just curiosity. Question: ...
9
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3answers
288 views

What are some of the earliest mentions of scientific “cranks”?

Often professors in math and physics academia have inboxes full of people claiming to have solved deep problems such as dark matter, black holes, prime number conjectures and claim that many big names ...
8
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1answer
260 views

Indiana Pi Bill: Other attempts to establish mathematical truth by legislative fiat?

Wiki: The Indiana Pi Bill is the popular name for bill #246 of the 1897 sitting of the Indiana General Assembly, one of the most notorious attempts to establish mathematical truth by legislative ...
3
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2answers
472 views

What is the international standing of Italian mathematics?

Being Italian, I have a biased view on my homeland's mathematical impact in the world, so I would like to get some impartial opinion on the topic. I would measure the mathematical relevance in terms, ...
5
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0answers
91 views

Nature of Fermat's friend Lalouvère's activities as censor?

Fermat had a friend at Toulouse named Lalouvère. Lalouvère was censor, jesuit, and mathematician (in alphabetical order). Antonella Romano writes on page 512 of her book La Contre-Réforme ...
0
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2answers
172 views

How come so many laws were not discovered by people they are named after?

Background Stigler's Law of Eponymy states that: Mathematical and Scientific laws/discoveries/inventions/&c. are simply not named after their original discoverer. Stigler's "Law" is a perfect ...
5
votes
1answer
337 views

Was it a major cultural event when Van Leeuwenhoek discovered unseen animals under the microscope?

In the 17e century van Leeuwenhoek discovered with his microscope new kind of animals and cells. How was this discovery of van Leeuwenhoek received by the ordinary people when there seemed to be more ...
8
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6answers
695 views

Instances of suppression of scientific ideas

I have started to compile a list of instances of suppression of scientific ideas in history. Up to now I have collected the following points: According to Dioganes Laertius Anaxagoras was imprisoned ...
7
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1answer
1k views

Is scientific consensus ever significantly wrong?

In debates with climate change deniers and creationists, it is often claimed that consensus of scientists is not enough to establish a position beyond dispute. Examples of the problem with consensus ...
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2answers
412 views

Harm of nature vs nurture debate?

I'm taking a class in language acquisition called "Nature vs Nurture". I'm not particularly fond of that framing, because the divide seems overly dichotomous. In addition, the N-vs-N debate has been ...
11
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1answer
241 views

What were Hilbert's weekly 1933 lectures on “matters of general intellectual interest” about?

Saunders Mac Lane says he attended Hilbert's weekly lectures on "matters of general intellectual interest" around 1931 or 1933 (Saunders Mac Lane: A Mathematical Autobiography p. 44). I believe these ...
10
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1answer
652 views

Did Grothendieck really say that he felt “clumsy, even oafish, wandering painfully up an arduous track”?

Here I found the following quote, attributed to the great Grothendieck: Since then I’ve had the chance in the world of mathematics that bid me welcome, to meet quite a number of people, both among ...
11
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4answers
684 views

What major areas of mathematics have been abandoned?

It seems that the focus of mathematical research moves on every so often, and some areas are not proven wrong, but have just become uninteresting in the current mathematical culture. I was under the ...
3
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0answers
124 views

In the scholastic challenges of renaissance Italy, what restrictions were considered appropriate regarding the incumbent's choice of subject?

EDIT Following Mauro's comment, I have altered my question to ask only about any restrictions that may have been considered concerning the suitability of the incumbent's choice of questions for the ...
4
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2answers
203 views

Was the Principia ever used as a textbook of physics for the people wanting to learn?

For example in the early days, when it was the only way to learn Newtonian mechanics? Was it good as a textbook?
5
votes
1answer
76 views

Who convinced Churchill to fund Needham's trip to China in 1942?

In 1942 the famous British biochemist Joseph Needham was sent to China to help their scientists because the Japanese had been targetting Chinese universities, academies and technical institutions ...
3
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4answers
255 views

Attitude towards mathematics throughout History

I am curious about how the majority of non-mathematicians felt about mathematics throughout history. When did the general opinion on math start to become what it is today--namely, that math is boring ...
5
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1answer
203 views

Who popularized the question “why is the sky blue?”

"Why is the sky blue" is a question that everybody seems to know, and in modern times is associated with children's innate curiosity. If I casually flip through a few of the children's science books I ...
3
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2answers
214 views

Historical examples of non-scientists who thought scientifically

I am working on a project in which I want to show how the thoughts of some non-scientists, poets and artists in particular, matched with science. To instill interest in science among my peers I want ...
18
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4answers
949 views

Conflict between physics and philosophy

In the old days. stars of physicists like Einstein$^{[1]}$, Poincare, Heisenberg, Pauli, $^{[2]}$ Bohr and so on are quite philosophical mind, and like philosophy. $^{[3]}$ But now, it seems to me a ...
4
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1answer
264 views

How did the loss of Einstein's first child affect his work?

In Einstein's biography written by Walter Isaacson, by the way wonderful book that I recommend to everyone, there are few pages referring vaguely to his first child with Mileva Marić, a daughter named ...
5
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2answers
537 views

Was Galileo a plagiarizer?

Was Galileo a plagiarizer? If we where to apply to the works of Galileo the general standards of plagiarism that we conform to today at our local institutions, would he be considered a plagiarizer? ...
9
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2answers
226 views

What films and fiction give realistic historical portrayal of science and scientists?

I am looking not for documentaries or biographies, those are easier to find, but for well written fictionalized but realistic portrayals of scientists and their work. These are hard to search for ...
4
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2answers
197 views

Did the Soviet Union emphasize nuclear physics over biology?

Some friend from Georgia told me that in every village of the Soviet Union there was an expert in nuclear physics. By contrast, the Soviet Union did not invest into biology at all. As a consequence, ...
12
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1answer
1k views

How did “royal we” become a standard of scientific writing?

Single authors referring to themselves as "we" is still commonplace today, and already Newton was we-ing in Principia. There is even a Latin term for we-ing, nosism, from "nos", which is Latin for "we"...
18
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1answer
556 views

How did “publish or perish” become the scientific priority rule?

The modern standard is that "between two or more independent discoverers, the first to make formal publication is the legitimate winner", colorfully described as publish or perish. This was not always ...
8
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1answer
174 views

What was the reaction to Kepler's *Somnium* when it was published?

Kepler's Somnium ("The Dream") is a work of fiction that is sometimes regarded as the first example of science fiction (e.g. by Carl Sagan). In it, Kepler describes a journey to the Moon and various ...
14
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1answer
248 views

When and why were mathematics and magic considered synonymous in England

In 1555, John Dee was arrested for "calculating". According to his MacTutor biography: At this time mathematics in England was considered to be equivalent to the possession of magical powers and ...