Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Did Jesuit missionaries help Newton develop calculus?


(CWNews.com) - Scholars in India discovered several key principles of calculus in the 14th century, according to a researcher at the University of Manchester in England. The Indian mathematicians' discoveries may have been passed on to Jesuit missionaries, and then to Isaac Newton-- who is generally credited, along with Gottfried Leibnitz, for introducing calculus 300 years later.
Dr. George Gheverghese Joseph of Manchester says that scholars of the "Kerala School" in India identified the "infinite series" in about 1350, and had been able to calculate the value of pi to 10 decimal places.
"But we've found evidence which goes far beyond that," Joseph says; "for example, there was plenty of opportunity to collect the information as European Jesuits were present in the area at that time." The Jesuit missionaries were well trained in mathematics, he says, and probably brought the discoveries of the Kerala School back to Europe.
Dr. Joseph--the author of The Crest of the Peacock: the Non-European Roots of Mathematics-- argues that historians have given short shrift to the influence that Asian scholars had on the development of European mathematics.

1 comment:

John said...

The Indians certainly were responsible for the introduction of the number zero. It is said that Newton and Leibniz discovered Calculus at about the same time, but, as in all Mathematics one very important feature is the language or symbols used to convey the ideas. In the field of Calculus it is Leibniz's notation which is used now because it somehow gets the matter across in a more useful way.
Digressing, if you will pardon it.
I was reading an article about Orthodox Theology and this article gave me, at least, reason to doubt the Orthodox's understanding of Baptism and Transubstantiation. Where they fall down is in the underpinning Philosophy behind their Theology. They are neo-Platonists and they lack the ideas of Substance and Form which Thomistic Philosophy gives us.
Again, this, like the Calculus needs the right foundation and means of expressing the ideas you have.

JARay