I have always wondered why men invented logarithms, and assumed it began as an intellectual curiosity. Perhaps it did, but I now know why it was readily adopted. Men who needed to perform complex calculations, such as merchants or logistics officers in the military, and of course the obvious people like scientists, often needed to multiply two numbers: say, then wanted to know the value of W in W = XY. With the invention of logarithms, all they needed to do was look it up in mathematical tables (remember, some of these people may be barely literate).
Tables were created showing the value of log(X) for every X. Then, noting log(W) = log(X) + log(Y), which was told to them, they could simply look up the values of log(X) and log(Y) in the table, add them together, and get a value of log(W). Then they looked in the same table to see what value of W corresponded to log(W), and they had their answer. Quick. Accurate. Convenient.
Of course, most of these people didn't know why this method worked, only that it did. These methods and tables were constructed around 1614 by John Napier, Joost Burgi, and Henry Briggs.
Will and Ariel Durant. The Age of Reason Begins. The Story of Civiliation. VII.
- It is hard to feel special as a person in a univer...
- (IP) Why you should never try to pick stocks
- The Meaning of Life and It's Determinants
- The desire for philosopher-kings
- Great Intelligence Squared Debate About U.S. and C...
- More writers than readers
- How much education is optimal?
- The Essence of Anarchy
- Have you noticed?
- How science really works
- Independent Thinking, Helped
- Quote regarding alienated labor
- The Consequence of Karl Marx
- I just can't let this go...
- The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology i...
- College students don't learn anything
- Two contrasting views on property
- Plato's remarks about fiction
- I recommend watching "Fall of the Eagles"
- Excerpt from book review about economic growth
- Revising Plato's Ship
- Quote about Ph.D's and writing
- Lines from movie: Catherine the Great
- Two instances of altruism
- Why we coerce
- The Role of Activists and Information
- This guy doesn't understand prophecy (or, maybe I ...
- Meaning of Life: Hindu Perspective
- The March of Science
- What is intellectual progress (Cahoone quote)?
- What is philosophy (Cahoone quote)?
- The Meaning of Life (Prelude to thirty-six lecture...
- My Final Thoughts on Modern Philosophy
- Things People Never Say
- My place in the cosmos
- A Leap of Scientific Belief
- How Science Works, according to Thomas Kuhn...
- I do not accept the alternative, but I reject the ...
- Epistemic Holism
- Napoleon Bonaparte Quotes
- Conservatives in the Academia
- Importance of the Divine (and Stories) in Battle
- Ancient Seeds and Seed Banks
- Money and Happiness
- Fraud in Science
- The invention of logarithms
- The Death of Philosophy
- defending defending Bailey fffLLL
- testing testing Bailely testing
- Tips for Economic Arguments (Tip 1)
- ▼ March (53)
- ► 2009 (71)