The Free lance. (State College, Pa.) 1887-1904, February 01, 1894, Image 8

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    of these in authority, hoping that something will
be done in the matter while it is fresh in our
ALTHOUGH the cause of the recent fire will
never be known to a certainty, it is sup-
posed that it was due to a lighted cigarette
stump which was carelessly tossed aside, or an
unignited match head which had dropped near
the hot pipes of the radiator. .Whichever cause
is the real one, it shows a great deal of dangerous
carelessness. What has- happened before may
happen again and under more favorable circum
stances.. This is not the first time we have had
fire from such a cause. About four years ago a
conflagration was raised by a cigarette stump be
ing thrown into a waste basket when the occupant
of the room went to class. It narrowly escaped
being a serious affair, and did prove quite serious
for the student himself, his loss being quite con
siderable. We know from our own observation
that such carelessness is all too prevalent, and we
can only call it good fortune that we have not
had cause to be sorry for it. Fire may break out
some night from a smouldering cigarette or cigar,
and, before anything can be done, it may get be
yond control, making the inmates of the building
thankful for even escaping with their lives. One
cannot be too careful in such matters, and we
hope the recent fire will cause a marked improve
ment before we have the same truth taught us by
a much more forcible object lesson.
NOTE.-. 1 have fears that the title of this paper
might seem too bold a compromise between science
and language, lest it should suggest a passage in
the Pickwick papers, where a distinguished litera
ry light is let loose on the drawing room and an
nounced as the author of a book on "Chinese
Metaphysics." To whom, Pickwick's mild remark
that he had not heard of the Chinese having any
Metaphysics, the author replies, "No, no ; that
was not my point of view at all. I simply read
up the Encyclopedia article 'China', and again
'Metaphysics' and combined my information."
Though the present paper is merely a compilation,
without the slightest pretence of originality, I
assure you that it has not been compiled in the
same way, nor from the same sources.
It has occurred to me that it might be interest
ing to take a brief view of the condition of math
ematical learning among the Hindoos as shown
in their literature, at a time before it was modified
by contact with European research and practice.
Prof. Whitney, in the preface to the first edition
of his Sanscrit Grammer notes, says that "the as
tronomical Science of the Hindoos is a reflection of
that of Greece, and its literature of recent date ;"
of that, then, we need take no account ; "but as
mathematicians, in arithmetic and geometry they
have shown more independence." Let us speak
first of the latter.
The origin of geometry as known to Europeans,
in a few simple land measures used by the Egyp
tians to re-establish the metes and bounds of their
fields in the valley of the Nile after its annual
overflow is too well known to need comment ; we
know, too, that the Greeks made the new science
so thoroughly their own, and developed it so far,
that almost nothing was done to extend the sub
ject in Europe until the time of Pascal.
Now, turning to the same subject among the
Hindoos, we find it beginning in an alleged reve
lation delivered about four million years earlier,
(according to that literal cronology of the Hin
doos which utterly vitiates their astronomy,) a
time when man was ten feet or more in height,
and lived about ten thousand years, and used his
time to as little advantage as the notorious Me
thusaleh. In this mass of absurdity one finds the
elements of a reliable geometry and in addition
the basis for a rational system of trigonometry.
(Surga Siddhauto.) The latter, by the way, is
treated at length in a learned article by Prof.
Playfair in Volume IV, Edinburg Philosophical
Like the Babylonians and the Greeks, they di
vided the circle into three hundred and sixty