A History of the Circle

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9781853434617: A History of the Circle

An investigation of how past attempts by scientists to discover the perfect circle led to major discoveries of the physical universe. Throughout, the author emphasizes the concepts underlying the mathematical calculations presented, and how they link to real-life examples.

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From the Inside Flap:

The concept of the circle is ubiquitous. It can be described mathematically, represented physically, and employed technologically. We drive cars that go on round tires, we operate our laundry machines with quarters, and we unscrew our ketchup bottle caps. The circle is an elegant, abstract from that has been transformed by humans into tangible, practical forms to make our lives easier.

And yet no one has ever discovered a true mathematical circle. Rainbows are fuzzy, car tires are flat on the bottom and even the most precise roller bearings have measurable irregularities. Ernest Zebrowski Jr. discusses why investigations of the circle over time have contributed enormously to our current knowledge of the physical universe. Beginning with the ancient mathematicians and culminating in twentieth-century knowledge of the physical universe. Beginning with the ancient mathematicians and culminating in twentieth-century theories of space and time, the mathematics of the circle has pointed many investigators in fruitful directions in their quests to unravel nature's secrets. Johannes Kepler, for example, triggered a scientific revolution in 1609 when he challenged the earth's circular motion around the sun. Arab and European builders instigated the golden age of mosque and cathedral building when they questioned the Roman structural arches that were limited to geometric semicircles.

Throughout his book, Zebrowski emphasizes the concepts underlying these mathematicians' calculations, and how these concepts are linked to real-life examples. Substantiated by easy-to-follow mathematical reasoning and clear illustrations, this accessible book presents a novel and interesting discussion of the circle in technology, culture, history, and science.

About the Author:

Ernest Zebrowski, Jr., holds professorships in science and mathematics education at Southern University in Baton Rouge, and in physics at Pennsylvania College of Technology of the Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of Perils of a Restless Planet: Scientific Perspectives on Natural Disasters and several science textbooks.

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Zebrowski, Ernest
Published by Free Association Books (1999)
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