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Napier's Bones; Rabdologaie

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Edinburgh Napier University, Merchiston Campus

10 Colinton Road

Edinburgh

EH10 5DT

United Kingdom

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John Napier, who was born in 1550 in the medieval Tower House of Merchiston Castle, is best known for his invention of logarithms. His work on logarithms, titled ‘Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Descriptio’, was published in 1614 and widely embraced by academics across Europe. Despite the academic acclaim, it was clear to John Napier that a universal system for simplifying logarithms would enable those, without the privilege of an extensive education, to access his innovation.

John Napier published Rabdologiae in 1617 which introduced a series of mathematical innovations, he hoped, would assist in making logarithms accessible to wider audiences within society. One of those innovations was a system of rods, colloquially named ‘Napier’s Bones’, which were widely adopted within science and commerce and proved mathematics could be put to common use.

Napier's Bones were credited as the world's first pocket calculator which contined to be used throughout the 20th Century, surpassed only in recent times through digital age innovations.

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Edinburgh Napier University, Merchiston Campus

10 Colinton Road

Edinburgh

EH10 5DT

United Kingdom

View Map

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