[BITList] Finding Your Roots

John Feltham wantok at me.com
Mon Mar 8 13:07:03 GMT 2010

March 7, 2010, 5:30 pm
Finding Your Roots

Steven Strogatz on math, from basic to baffling.

For more than 2,500 years, mathematicians have been obsessed with solving for x.  The story of their struggle to find the “roots” — the solutions — of increasingly complicated equations is one of the great epics in the history of human thought.
And yet, through it all, there’s been an irritant, a nagging little thing that won’t go away: the solutions often involve square roots of negative numbers.  Such solutions were long derided as “sophistic” or “fictitious” because they seemed nonsensical on their face.

Until the 1700s or so, mathematicians believed that square roots of negative numbers simply couldn’t exist.
For full article see

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