Ragged Clown

It's just a shadow you're seeing that he's chasing…


Jul
9
2008

Why Radians?

Ever wondered why there are 360 degrees?

Constellations make a circle throughout the year — ever see the Big Dipper upside down sometimes? (Never fear, it’ll be rightside-up in 6 months). Here’s a theory about how degrees came to pass:

  • Humans noticed that constellations moved in a full circle every year
  • Every day, they moved a tiny bit (” a degree”)
  • Since a year has about 360 days, a circle had 360 degrees

But, but… why not 365 degrees in a circle?

Cut ‘em some slack: they had sundials and didn’t know a year should have a convenient 365.242199 degrees like you do.

360 is close enough for government work. It fits nicely into the Babylonian base-60 number system, and divides well (by 2, 3, 4, 6, 10, 12, 15, 30, 45, 90… you get the idea).

According to Better Explained, degrees are subjective but radians are objective.

A degree is the amount I, an observer, need to tilt my head to see you, the mover. It’s a tad self-centered, don’t you think?

Much of physics (and life!) involves leaving your reference frame and seeing things from another’s viewpoint. Instead of wondering how far we tilted our heads, consider how far the other person moved.

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4 responses to Why Radians?

CaptainGroggySwagger July 10, 2008

I would like to invent a more complex and way to measure angles that will make all those radian lovers feel stupid.

Kevin July 10, 2008

you should look into gradients

Jeffrey Fredrick July 12, 2008

That’s the new open source release of radians from google, right?

phebe crismo July 2, 2009

this is how we sang it 33 years ago in youth group:

said judas to mary, now what will you do with your ointment so rich and so rare? I’ll pour it all over the feet of the Lord and i’ll wipe it away with my hair, she said, i’ll wipe it away with my hair.

said judas to mary, “oh mary, oh mary, think of the poor, this ointment it could have been sold and think of the blankets and think of the bread you could buy with the silver and gold, he said. “you could buy with the silver and gold.”

said mary to judas, “tomorrow, tomorrow, i’ll think of the poor. tomorrow, she said, not today. for dearer than all of the poor in the world is my Lord who is going away, she said, my Lord who is going away.

said jesus to mary, “your love is so great, today you may do as you will. Tomorrow you say, “I am going away” but my body i leave with you still, he said, my body i leave with you still.

the poor of the world are my body, he said, to the end of the world they shall be. the bread and the blankets you give to the poor you will find you have given to me, he said, you will find you have given to me.

yeah, funny, how the words came back when i saw your something, something… ;>) <

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