Etymology is funny sometimes. Sometimes it tells you a lot, sometimes nothing at all. For example, the word *parabola* comes from the ancient Greek word for “applied.” *Hyperbola* comes from ὑπερβολή or “excessive” and *ellipse* is derived from “a deficient.” From their words, you’d almost think the Greeks weren’t fond of conic sections.

Don’t let it fool you. They loved them.

A large part of ancient Greek contributions to mathematics are based on the simplicity of taking slices of a cone. Euclid apparently wrote four books on conics (which history somehow managed to lose).

And just as the ancient Greeks…

Mary Everest was born in the tiny English village of Wickwar, Gloucestershire, in 1832. When she was five, an influenza outbreak swept Europe and her father became gravely ill. The family decided to pick up and move to Poissy, France, hoping to find a cure in the hands of the famous German doctor Samuel Hahnemann.

Two simple proofs of the infinity of primes

Prime numbers are whole numbers that are only divisible by 1 and themselves. Students first learn about them in middle school, around the time when teachers are first introducing pesky equations with weird not-numbers like x and y. Remember these factor trees? All you need to know is division to construct one.

But this simple rule of division turns out to be the basis the most pure of the pure of mathematics. …

have a podcast about the history of math @mathhistorypod