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By Edmund T. Whittaker

First-class remedy of Electrodynamics and Relativity concept from a decent historic standpoint. Whittaker's perspectives are suppressed simply because he was once courageous sufficient to inform the reality concerning the actual contributions of Einstein to the Relativity idea (properly attributed to Poincaré and Lorentz).

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Extra resources for A History of the Theories of Aether and Electricity - The Classical Theories

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2. AI-Kiishl's equatorium set for finding the longitude of a planet. The outer rim shows the Arabic names for the zodiacal signs, counterclockwise from Aries, the word just above "epicycle". Figure adapted from The Planetary Equatorium of Jamshfd Ghiyiith ai-Din al-Kiishf(transl. by E. S. Kennedy), Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1960. Reprinted by permission of Princeton University Press. learned are gathered together, and teachers who hold classes in all the sciences are at hand, and the students are all at work on the art of mathematics" .

We need not go into the special devices that were used to represent numbers larger than 999, for it is the fractions that interest us now. A Greek astronomer, knowing the Babylonian system, evidently saw the possibility of substituting letters of the alphabet for the groups of wedges the Babylonians used for digits. Thus 121 would be written IB K, to signify (10 + 2) + $. §4. e. 2·60 + 22 + ~5). The only improvement the Greek system displayed was a slight cipherization for the digits, so that whereas the Babylonian would have to write «( for i, the Greek could simply write K.

In order to achieve this accuracy he calculated the perimeters of inscribed and circumscribed poly- §4. The Sources 21 gons, in a given circle, having 805,306,368 sides. What makes the achievement impressive is that al-Kashl states in advance how close he wants his approximation to be and then carefully plans how accurate each stage must be so that what we would call round-off errors do not accumulate as he goes through the series of root extractions necessary to arrive at the final result. AI-Kashi phrases his requirement for accuracy by stating that he wants the value to be so accurate that, when it is used to calculate the circumference of the universe according to the ancient dimensions, the result would not differ from the true value by more than the width of a horse's hair.

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