lunes, 16 de noviembre de 2009

The sand reckoner

In what was effectively one of the world's first research papers, Archimedes boasted in the 3rd century BC that he could write a number larger than the number of grains of sand it would take to fill the universe. He was able to do this using the new Ionian number system and his own notation, which in effect used powers and was based on the 'myriad', or 10.000. He worked with powers of a myriad myriad, or 100.000.000. Archimedes' estimate of the size of the universe, while far larger than previous figures, was nowhere near modern estimates. His number of grains of sand was 8 · 1063.
[imagen extraída de esta web]
reckoner - contador
research paper - trabajo de investigación
to boast - presumir
Ionian - jónico
myriad - miríada
estimate - estimación

Nota: el Diccionario de la Real Academia Española define la palabra miríada como "cantidad muy grande pero indefinida"; en nuestro texto debemos entender esta palabra tal como está explicada en su significado griego original: "diez mil".

El presente texto ha sido extraído del libro The Story of Mathematics, escrito por Anne Rooney.

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