Date: Wed, 8 Sep 1999 18:47:28 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Triangles & the history of degree measure for angles
Who is asking: Student
Are there any triangles which are not 180 degrees?
I am also in need of information on the history of degree measure for an angle.
The answer is both yes and no.
Historically, people may not have measured angles on
a sphere - but the same sets of measurements (and the
same type of trigonometry) comes up in astronomy and
navigation working with angles looking outwards to the sky!
- Yes - triangles on a sphere.
Take a globe. Take a triangle from the North pole to
the equator, 1/4 of the way around the equator and back
to the North pole. You will find THREE 90 degree angles!
No on the Eucdean plane, any triangle has an angle sum of 180.
In fact, this property is equivalent to Euclid's fifth postulate
(given the other four) about parallel lines etc.
Two places you might look for history part of your question are the Earliest Uses of Various Mathematical Symbols (look on the geometry page) and The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive
Cheers,Go to Math Central
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