Logarithms celebrate their 400th birthday

Four centuries ago, John Napier provided human calculators a faster way to multiply

By Tom Siegfried, 13:17 PM July 25, 2014

You may find this hard to believe, but there are people still alive today who once did their mathematical calculations by sliding sticks back and forth. No keypads, no batteries, no LEDs. Just sticks.

Yes, it sounds like a device from the Stone Age, but as late as the 1970s scientists and engineers commonly used such a stick-sliding device, known as a slide rule, to perform multiplication and division and other tasks like extracting square roots. Working versions of these instruments still are...

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