Posted in History, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on March 29, 2013

The equal sign has been in the public view this week. It means that two sides of a mathematical arrangement have the same value. This week, with arguments about gay marriage in the public eye, the equal sign has been tarted up in red and pink, and become popular on facebook. It is supposed to represent equality, as in marriage equality. At least it is not a ribbon pinned to a lapel.

On friday evening of red equality week, PG was listening to a podcast, emanating from a site called Useless Information. PG tries to use less information, which is not quite the same thing. This podcast was originally presented in November 2012, and tells the story of an Ohio man who drowns in a boating accident, only to reappear as a Nebraska sportscaster.

At the outset of the podcast, there is a quiz. In this edition, a series of math symbols are the possible answers. The question is, which one was the first to be used. The equal sign won.

Robert Recorde (born c. 1510, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales—died June 1558, London, England) invented the equal sign. In his book Recorde explains his design of the “Gemowe lines”: “…to avoid the tedious repetition of these words: “is equal to”, I will set (as I do often in work use) a pair of parallels (or Gemowe lines) of one length (thus =), because no two things can be more equal.”

Pictures today are from “The Special Collections and Archives,Georgia State University Library”.

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