How mathematics built the modern world - Works in Progress

Good article.

All reflect an underlying ‘calculating paradigm’ – the idea that measurement, calculation, and mathematics can be successfully applied to virtually every domain.

From Marginal Revolution.


I would argue that the four British warships that founded on the rocks of the Scilly Islands was due to a mistake in calculating longitude not latitude.
The loss of 2000 lives galvanised the Admiralty into offering the Longitude prize of 20,000 pounds for an accurate way of obtaining a longitude. It was an extraordinary sum back then and Maskelyne, who later became Astronomer Royal proposed using Lunar Distances.
George Harrison, a carpenter, built the first chronometer that proved itself in a trial voyage from the UK to Barbados and after a long argument claimed 10,000 pounds.
Captain Cook used an improved version on his second voyage.
The chronometers can be seen at Greenwich Maritime Museum.

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According to the Wikipedia article it seems the linked article in the OP got it right and Dava Sobel’s book ‘Longitude’ did not.

Scilly naval disaster of 1707

The fleet determined approximate longitude when they came on soundings.

The continental shelf extends to about the 100-fathom (180-m) line and then drops very sharply to thousands of metres. A ship coming “into the soundings”, where the depth could be measured with a 100–150-fathom sounding line thus knew its approximate longitude.[25]

There was however apparently a connection between the disaster and the Longitude prize.

From Wikipedia

While Dava Sobel’s[20] assertion that the disaster was mainly due to an error in longitude cannot be sustained, the disastrous wrecking of a Royal Navy fleet in home waters nonetheless caused great consternation to the nation, and made plainly evident the inadequacy of existing maritime navigational techniques.

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Maths built the pyramids too I would imagine?

I think the ancient constructions, even the huge cathedrals of the Middle Ages, were rather built with the principle of ‘try… and then rebuild from scratch’.

they had some math

Yes, simple mathematical knowledge is old, but to solve a problem with math, one will need at first to know what the problem is.
The resistance of the soil where the construction stands on, the resistance of the material used to build, the direction and strength of the forces acting inside the construction and so on.

A still standing example is the Leaning Tower of Pisa, built on alluvial soil in the 12th century DC.
During the initial construction works, it begun leaning; the compression on this poor soil was to high.
Then, for hundred years the works were halted and the soil could settle somehow. In the 13th century, the works were completed… inclined.
During the last century, the leaning increased again and something had to be done.
With a very expensive high-tech solution, they did it. The leaning was halted (even corrected a bit)… at least for now.

The linked post in the OP is not just about solving problems using mathematics. It’s this: .’ A new paradigm of measurement and calculation

From the post:

All reflect an underlying ‘calculating paradigm’ – the idea that measurement, calculation, and mathematics can be successfully applied to virtually every domain.

Here’s another book with a similar theme: *"The Measure of Reality" Quantification and Western Society* by Alfred W. Crosby - According to the cover the book

"discusses the epochal shift from qualitative to quantitative perception in Western Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Not just the measure of time and space but also music, painting, bookkeeping etc.

The musical staff was Europe’s first graph, time is x-axis, pitch is y-axis.

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