On whose shoulders did Newton stand on?

If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants. — Sir Isaac Newton

Scienceblogs on Kerala School of scholars:

A little known school of scholars in southwest India discovered one of the founding principles of modern mathematics hundreds of years before Newton – according to new research.

Dr George Gheverghese Joseph from The University of Manchester says the ‘Kerala School’ identified the ‘infinite series ’- one of the basic components of calculus – in about 1350.

The discovery is currently – and wrongly – attributed in books to Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibnitz at the end of the seventeenth centuries.

The team from the Universities of Manchester and Exeter reveal the Kerala School also discovered what amounted to the Pi series and used it to calculate Pi correct to 9, 10 and later 17 decimal places.

And there is strong circumstantial evidence that the Indians passed on their discoveries to mathematically knowledgeable Jesuit missionaries who visited India during the fifteenth century.

That knowledge, they argue, may have eventually been passed on to Newton himself.

Take a look!

PS: The part about circumstantial evidence bothers me a bit; but, hey, we are completing sixty years of Indian independence; so, let us celebrate!

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2 Responses to “On whose shoulders did Newton stand on?”

  1. raj Says:

    I read a similar story in the Brittanica blog here : http://blogs.britannica.com/blog/main/2007/03/the-universal-language

  2. Guru Says:

    Dear Raj,

    Thanks for the link; I have seen, in Wikipedia entry on Pi for example, the Kerala school being given its due; Resonance, the journal of science education published by the Indian Academy of Sciences, if I remember correct also carried some articles on the topic. Like Hosch in the Britannica blog says, I also feel that to say we discovered calculus is going a bit too far.

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