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11:53am on Monday, 29th August, 2005:

They Don't Teach it Like they Used to


The Independent on Sunday had an article about a mathematical text book in English from 1536 that was recently purchased for the nation. It included the following "old poser":

The rule and questyon of a catte.

There is a catte at the fote of a tre the length of 300 fote / this catte goeth upwarde eche daye 17 fote, and descendeth eche nyght 12 fote. I demaunde in how longe tyme shall she be at ye toppe.

Answere Take vp and abate the nyght of the daye / that is 12 of 17, and there remayneth 5, therfore the catte mounteth eche daye 5 fote / deuyde now 300 by 5 & therof cometh 60, dayes then she shal be at the toppe.

No, mathematical text book in English from 1536, it would not take 60 dayes for the catte to get to the top of the tre. Try 58 dayes.

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).