>...In a similar vein, I have heard someone say that the original >meaning of "irrational" number was really the in the sense of it not >being rational to believe that they existed. They claimed to have a >good source for it, but, alas, I didn't write it down. Anyone know?
Mike, I can't answer as to the original meaning of the word, but in some recent research I was doing I discovered that at least the idea of irrational numbers is extremely ancient. The book I was reading was quoting Euclid's Elements (c. 300 BC). The quote went something like "The side of a square is incommensurable with its diagonal." a reference, of course, to the irrationality of the square root of 2. Just something I thought y'all might find interesting - and also using the word "incommensurable" in conversation is bound to impress (if not confuse) your friends.
"Suddenly, and without warning, wild horses burst in and dragged Sam away."