The Free lance. (State College, Pa.) 1887-1904, February 01, 1894, Image 10

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    and curious learning, which it has not been our
good fortune to see for years, there is an excellent
account of Hindoo algebra, and of the keen ana
lytical ability their work displays, as well as exam
ples of their problems expressed in highly rhetor•
ical and poetical diction, and sometimes so over
loaded with ornament (the fault of all their liter
ature as of their act,) as to obscure the simple
elements of the problem proposed. The algebra
of Bhaskara, shows that he understood the arith
metic of square roots ; the solutions of equations
of the second degree, even touching upon those
of higher denomination in the simplest cases ; a
general solution of indeterminate problems of the
first degree, and a method of getting a multitude
of answers to problems of the second degree,
when one solution had been found by trial. In
the attempt to solve equations of the higher order
they stuck hard and fast. But algebra was their
pet science and they pegged away at it, never dis•
heartened, and applied it as far as they could to
their work in astronomy and geometry.
Bhaskara's great work, however, is a long treat
ise on arithmetic followed by the elements of
Geometry and called the Silavati. It begins with
an invocation to Ganese, the elephant headed god
of wisdom, whose image is always adored before
the beginning of a drama, the recitation of a
poem, or any literary occasion, and then removed
by the Brahmin in charge before the performance
begins. The rules of arithmetic are then given in
verse and addressed to Lilavati, a charming girl
who poses as pupil. The origin of this name for
the treatise is an odd and amusing piece of legen
dary lore. Bhaskara had been disappointed in
the ambition of his life, a son to receive his accu
mulated learning and hand it down to posterity.
The next best thing was to secure a suitable mar
riage for his daughter. But the astrologers an
nounced that her horoscope showed that she must
live and die unmarried. • On closer examination
the father thought he discovered one lucky day
and hour when she could be happily married. So
picking out the bridegroom, and having him in
attendance at the proper time and place with
Lilavati in full bridal dress and the astrologer to
watch the heavens and to measure the time, he
awaited the event with eagerness. On a deep
vessel of water floated' the hour-cup, a deep saucer
with a small hole in the side at the water line.
when that should fill and sink the two were to be
joined in marriage. But while waiting it hap
pened that the girl, from a very natural curiosity,
looked over the edge of the vessel to see how fait
the water was coming in, when a pearl from her
dress unseen by any one rolled into the hole and
stopped the influx of water When the operation
of the cup had been delayed beyond all reason,
the anxious father examined the apparatus, found
the cause of the delay and realized that the one
favorable hour was long past. "It is well," said
the disappointed father, "I shall write a book in
your name which shall remain to the latest time;
for a good name is a second life and the ground
work of eternal existence."
The whole question of the place of Hindoo
mathematicians is one of chronology, and upon
the determination of the exact date of Bhaskara
depends the assigning cf the earlier honors to him
or the Europeans. T.
At a meeting of the class of '96, of the Penn
sylvania State College, the following resolutions
were adopted :
WHEREAS, our beloved class mate, Frank J.
Bailey, was removed from our number by an all
wise and overruling Providence, be it
Resolved, that in the death of Mr. Bailey, our
class loses a loyal and honored member, and we a
highly esteemed friend ; and
Resolved, that we extend to the bereaved family,
our heartfelt sympathy for them in their affliction;
Resolved, that a copy of these resolutions be
sent to the bereaved parents, published in the
FREE LANCE, and entered on our class minutes.
Committee, C. S. GINGRICH,
State College, Pa., Feb. 13, '94.
IN 111EMORIA111: