Reply to post: Copyright and Mathematical Tables

Forget trigonometry, 'cos Babylonians did it better 3,700 years ago – by counting in base 60!

JulieM Silver badge

Copyright and Mathematical Tables

Talking about copyright and mathematical tables, set my mind off on a train of thought.

What if the publisher of a set of mathematical tables incorporated deliberate errors to allow easy spotting of plagiarism? Cartographers are said to have done similar things with maps ..... And then what if one day, the designer of a bridge stumbled upon one of these deliberate errors whilst doing an innocent engineeering calculation, and ended up underspecifying something and then as a consequence, one day, the bridge collapses and a train falls into a river?

What if they checked their calculations using a different book of tables, which happened to be a pirate copy of the original and therefore included the same mistake?

It's probably a good job there were no modern-style lawyers in those days. (Another thought: Perhaps it's precisely because we have so many labour-saving devices at our disposal today, it is entirely possible for some people literally to have nothing better to do with their time .....)

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