04f ALEX THE GREAT MERGES GREEK AND BABLYONIAN MATH

This theory I learned from Derek John de Solla Price, my new history of science prof at Yale.  He reversed the query: why did other cultures not develop a vital sci/math/technology?  He asked, what uniquely happened in Western Civilization that triggered a unique (and premature) advancement in sci/math/technology?

Price claimed it was the conquests of Alexander the Great, who forced the merger of Greek and Babylonian mathematics. The Greeks has mastered the logic of math, through geometry. The Babylonians had mastered computation. The Greeks knew what “pi” was, but couldn’t compute it with any accuracy. The Babylonians could compute “pi”, but didn’t really comprehend it.

These two branches of math complemented each other in Ptolemy’s Almagest, the Earth centered mathematical model to simulate retrograde motion.

0 comments