[Haskell-cafe] Radians and degrees

Bryan Richter b at chreekat.net
Tue Sep 21 04:47:19 UTC 2021

For what it's worth, I just spent some time with professional sailors and
merchant marine officers, and they exclusively use degrees for measuring
headings, bearings, and position (and speed/distance, if you consider the
history of the nautical mile). So I guess they still have some practical
use. :)

On Mon, 20 Sep 2021, 9.15 Anthony Clayden, <anthony.d.clayden at gmail.com>

> > Neither [degrees nor radians] is really wrong. Degrees are strange, ...
> That sounds like the pot calling the kettle black. 'Irrational' means ...
> errm ... strange. 'Transcendental' was the word Leibniz reached for when he
> realised he had something stranger than irrationals.
> > an artifact of the Babylonian system with no real mathematical
> significance.
> Hmm? An artefact of being approximately the number of days in a year
> (which is as true for us as the Babylonians), and a number which has many
> factors, so can happily measure quarter-turns, eighth turns (bracing to
> keep your right-angles upright), whole-number of degrees for internal
> angles of all the faces needed for the Platonic solids ...
> I would have thought there's a teachable moment there about prime numbers,
> factorisation, and for bringing fractions into a coherent continuum.
> It's not like ignorance of this alleged "mathematical significance" of
> radians prevented building Hanging Gardens or Pyramids, Stonehenge, the
> fractals of the Walls of Benin, Machu Picchu trapeziums or aqueducts or
> anything. (A bit like Category Theory, really.)
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