The Unknown Thing

Here’s why x is so ubiquitous in mathematics.

Now one more unknown thing is known!

This TED Talk can be found here.

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4 thoughts on “The Unknown Thing

  1. Now that I’ve watched the video … this cannot be correct. To begin with, you *can* say the ‹sh› sound in *Old* Spanish, which is what’s relevant for the centuries that he mentions. In fact, it was spelt with ‘x’, so that really simplifies the pedigree.

    But it still doesn’t explain anything, because they were supposed to be *translating* the Arabic originals, not *transliterating* them! It didn’t matter what sounds anything made in Arabic, it only mattered what the word means. We need to know why they didn’t translate the word into an Old Spanish or Late Latin word. After that, which letter was used for the sound of the untranslated word is a triviality.

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