Q&A #4192


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From: Pat Ballew (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Jun 22, 2000 at 14:57:13
Subject: Re: Calculus

Here is the way I explained it on my Mathwords, and other words web page:: Calculate / Calculus The origin of both these words is in the Greek word kalyx, for pebble or small stone. The manipulations of small stones on counting boards to do arithmetic operations led to the present mathematical meanings of calculate and calculus. The pebble root is still present in the medical use of the word calculus, a name for an accretion of mineral salts in the body into a small "stone" such as kidney stones. The name for the element calcium comes from the same root. The prefix calci usually relates to calcium or limestone in some way. The furnace used for annealing in the glass making process is called a calcar, and the same word is used for a spur or projection on the heel. Interestingly, the material created in the calcar (glass furnace) is called frit, and is the root of the food product called a fritter; both words coming from the Latin word for fry. You can find this, and other math origins at the URL http://www.geocities.com/Paris/Rue/1861/etyindex.html -Pat Ballew, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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