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    Re: Top fifty greatest breakthroughs since the wheel
    From: Alexandre Eremenko
    Date: 2013 Oct 25, 17:09 -0400

    Thanks for the interesting reference.
    I am surprised that the "sextant" made the 23-th place.
    Above the "alphabetization", "pasteurization", "sailboat" and even
    "paper money" !
    What is sextant for, if you have no sailboat?
    But I strongly disagree with your statement that
    "it was scarcely an invention at all".
    I frequently describe the history of navigation to my friends,
    mostly mathematicians, and when I describe the technical problem
    of measuring angles in the sky with 0.2' accuracy from an unstable
    platform, nobody can figure out how to do this.
    It was a very clever invention, on my opinion. And nothing better
    was ever invented since then for the same purpose
    (measuring an angle from an
    unstable platform).
    > Here's a fun list from "The Atlantic":
    > http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/11/innovations-list/309536/
    > Both the compass and the sextant make the cut. Of course, you have to see
    > the sextant here as a "token" representing scientific navigation. By
    > itself, it was scarcely an invention at all.
    > -FER
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