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Re[2]: imaginary numbers
Posted:
Dec 6, 1995 2:06 PM


Mike writes: >...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. Sam "Suddenly, and without warning, wild horses burst in and dragged Sam away."



