Does Trying to Square a Circle Cause an Illness?Date: 03/14/2006 at 20:47:21 From: Caitlin Subject: illness on trying to square a circle People thought that trying to square a circle was an illness. What was that illness called? Date: 03/14/2006 at 22:34:15 From: Doctor Peterson Subject: Re: illness on trying to square a circle Hi, Caitlin. I think your statement is a little inaccurate; no one, to my knowledge, actually thought it WAS an illness. Here is the best source I know for the real story: http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/PrintHT/Squaring_the_circle.html This says The popularity of the problem continued and there are many amusing stories told by De Morgan on this topic in his book Budget of Paradoxes which was edited and published by his wife in 1872, the year after his death. De Morgan suggests that St Vitus be made the patron saint of circle-squarers. This is a reference to St Vitus' dance, a wild leaping dance in which people screamed and shouted and which led to a kind of mass hysteria. De Morgan also suggested the term 'morbus cyclometricus' as being the 'circle squaring disease'. Your source seems to be one of many sites I found that have a slightly twisted version of the story: http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Pines/5945/facts.html 29) A long time ago people thought there was an illness attached to trying to 'square a circle' called Morbus Cyclometricus. Do you see the difference? The reality is not that "people thought there was" such a illness, but just that one person facetiously described it as such! By the way, to answer a question like this, all you have to do is take the key words of your question and feed them to google.com: square circle illness Try it: you'll find where your teacher probably got the question, as well as the popular version of the answer. Then a search for "morbus cyclometricus" gets you the real story. That's often a good way to do research: do the obvious search first just to gather better search words, and then search for the best sources using the better understanding you've picked up in the first search. If you have any further questions, feel free to write back. - Doctor Peterson, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ |
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