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    Re: Astronomy & math in ancient Babylon
    From: Alexandre Eremenko
    Date: 2016 Feb 1, 01:39 +0000

    It is indeed strange that NYT published a popular science paper on such
    specialized subject as Babylonian astronomy:-)
    As always, a journalist writing about science for general public made huge distortions,
    and hardly understands the matter himself.
    It is known from the beginning of 20s century after the cuneiform tablets were
    decoded, and modern mathematicians studied them, that Babylonian astronomers of the Hellenistic period
    had sophisticated tools for prediction of the motion of Sun, planets, and even Moon.
    They did not have a "theory" in the Western/Greek sense of the word, but just a complicated set
    of empirical rules derived from long time observations.
    The dependence of angular coordinates of time was modeled by brocken lines, rather than 
    combinations of sinusoids as in the Western astronomy.
    That some of these empiric rules, involved computation of areas under these broken lines,
    is interesting but on my opinion does not deserve an article in NYT:-)
    The area under a broken line is a trivial computation, and it is a huge 
    exaggeration to call it "integral".
    True, modern notion of integral was invented by Archimedes, who was a 
    contemporary of these Babylonian astronomers.
    3 centuries later, Ptolemy developed the first truly scientific model of 
    motion of planets. All Western astronomy was
    the development of this model.
    After that, Babylonian methods were abandoned in the "West" almost immediately 
     (West includes Europe and Islamic world),
    but they penetrated to India, where they were still practiced until 18s century.
    From: NavList@fer3.com [NavList@fer3.com] on behalf of Noell Wilson [NoReply_Wilson@fer3.com]
    Sent: Sunday, January 31, 2016 1:09 PM
    To: eremenko@math.purdue.edu
    Subject: [NavList] Astronomy & math in ancient Babylon
    The right people looked at come clay tablets in the British Museum and 
    recognized that Babylonian astronomers in the 350 to 50 B.C. Period described 
    the unique motion of Jupiter across the sky with graphs of position versus 
    time. "It was an abstract concept not known elsewhere at the time. 'It 
    anticipates integral calculus.' "
    Regards, Noell
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