The Story of Maths
07:20 - 08:20
The Frontiers of Space
Mathematical problems became spectator sports in 16th century, with generous prizes given to the winners. In such a competitive atmosphere, it's not surprising that mathematicians would jealously guard their knowledge - and in some cases, behave very badly. Girolamo Cardano, appeared to solve a problem known as the cubic, but he had stolen the solution, from a rival mathematician - Nicolo Tartaglia. France began to challenge Italian mathematical domination with Rene Descartes, who linked algebra and geometry - a decisive step that would change the course of the discipline forever. He was followed by a maths prodigy, Pascal, who proved that the sum of the angles of a triangle were equal to two right angles at just 12 years old. Pascal went on to invent a mechanical calculator and proved that a vacuum could exist.
In England Isaac Newton developed calculus, which could account for the orbits of the planets, but spent the rest of his life embroiled in a dispute with a German mathematician over who developed it first.
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