Date: Dec 2, 2012 11:10 PM
Author: Jonathan Crabtree
Subject: Re: In "square root of -1", should we say "minus 1" or "negative<br> 1"?

Hi Joe

Some stats from Amazon.com word searches...

In the book "An Imaginary Tale: The Story of i [the square root of minus one]"

18 is the number of times MINUS appears in the book
54 is the number of times NEGATIVE appears in the book

In the book "Imagining Numbers: (particularly the square root of minus fifteen)"

20 is the number of times MINUS appears in the book
49 is the number of times NEGATIVE appears in the book

Take away the compulsory use of 'minus' because it's in both book titles and it's no contest. Real mathematicians talk about the square root of negative one.

In Paul Nahin's book, the string "minus number" appears ZERO times. The string "negative number" appears 10 times.

After you've been sold on the DUMB title, Mazur asks:
"What kind of thing is the square root of a NEGATIVE number?"

The product or sum of an x or + equation is a noun described by an adjective. That adjective is positive OR negative.

To state that the product or sum of an equation is a verb acting on a noun is a nonsense fragment.

Modern mathematicians are so sloppy. They 'dumb down' a radio show (NPR) or tv show (BBC) because minus is a simpler word than negative.

They dumb down book titles and use minus instead of negative so they get published.

Minus times minus = plus is a JOKE to avoid giving children an answer! When did Ogden Nash become an eminent mathematician?

I am a simple person with a simple view of arithmetic and numbers. I didn't do much math at school and I have no subsequent formal math training. So I dislike the way mathematicians are so inconsistent when the discipline of mathematics requires consistency.

Minus and plus are the OPERATIONS that describe MOVEMENT along the number line.

Negative and positive are PROPERTIES of the static number points on the number line.

Why do the -ve x -ve 'property times property' or 'negative times negative' people and - x - 'operation times operation' or 'minus times minus' people insist on undoing centuries of very sound elementary number theory?

When did definitions cease to matter?

Negative numbers are written with a 'minus' sign ONLY because everybody knows what a minus sign is. That does NOT make it mathematically correct.

Negative numbers are written with a NEGATIVE sign just doesn't explain this to an audience skilled in arithmetic only.

Great, we can do away with integers because we have plus and minus numbers from kindy.

Zero is usually thought of as neither positive nor negative.

Wait! Because of radio shows, tv shows and book publishers, that MUST now be...

00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
Zero is usually thought of as neither plus nor minus!
00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

Q.E.D.