Line Segments and the Origins of Geometry
Date: 7 Jun 1995 15:08:44 -0400 From: cad09 Subject: math question Dear Dr. Math, Our names are Susan Hong and Betty Lam. We are both in sixth grade at Cadwallader Elementary School. We are wondering if you could answer some questions for us? One of our questions is, "How can segments be lines?" Another question is, "Why do you call geometry geometry?" Sincerely, Susan Hong and Betty Lam
Date: 7 Jun 1995 15:15:45 -0400 From: Heather Mateyak Subject: Re: math question Hi Susan and Betty, Well, I really don't think a segment CAN be a line. A line is defined to go on to infinity in both directions. It has no endpoints, yet segments are defined to have two distinct endpoints. Are these the definitions you are familiar with? If not, write back, and we can talk about it some more. Now about the second question, I am going to have to leave that to another Dr. Math since I don't have any math history books around me. I think that geometry is an English form of a Greek word, because Greece was the birthplace (so to speak) of geometry. And a lot of times you can break up the word to see what its 'root words' are. I think the two roots of geometry are 'geo' and 'metry'. 'geo' may have to do with earth, and 'metry' is a form of the word for measuring, I think. But I hope one of the other Drs. Math will confirm this for you. I'm just making a stab at it. -Heather
Date: 8 Jun 1995 11:34:21 -0400 From: Dr. Ken Subject: Re: math question Hello Susan and Betty! Yes, Heather was right, the word "geometry" comes from the Greek words "geo" (which means Earth) and "metron" (which means to measure). Originally, the study of geometry was the study of measuring the Earth, whether it was for laying out a farmer's fields, estimating the distance across a lake, or parcelling out an old man's land among his children. Thanks for the question! -K
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