Calculus in Babylon:
This is just for fun.  If you can’t laugh with me, feel free to laugh at me on this posting.  Usually, of course, I am deadly serious.

They have found on clay tablets found in Babylon evidence that the Babylonians were using a form of calculus to recon the progress of Jupiter across the sky, a point of great interest to them at the time.  These tablets were made some time between 350 and 50 BC.  They seem to refer to a conceptual space of time against velocity.  Usually we think in a space distance against distance.  Their highly accurate work implies a familiarity with calculus.  Wow.  And I always thought it dated to Newton.  I’ll just ignore any question of precedence and say Newton invented it.  You can investigate and decide what you think, but this works for my story.

I once wrote a novel in which one of the characters, an Arab, says that Newton was adopted.  The others did not quite buy it, but his logic was that any portrait of Newton shows his piercing eyes; these are the eyes of an Arab, not an Englishman.  No Arab would treat his real parents the way Newton did his own, hence Newton was adopted.  Of course just because Babylon was in the Mid East doesn’t mean they were Arabs.  Any story of the understanding of calculus coming from Babylon to Newton would require even more wild conjectures. 

But there is another aspect.  In a different novel I follow the putative adventures of the Serpent trying to keep the secret of the Tree of Life from people down through the centuries.  In this story the flaming sword held by Lucifer is not to drive people away from the tree but is a beacon so that anybody at any time who looks around honestly will understand the secret; the way to Eden is never lost.  Unfortunately anyone who is obsessed with good and evil will never look for the secret of the Tree of Life. 

At one point the Serpent has followed the Judeans to Babylon.  While there it becomes evident that the administrative class of Babylon does not produce enough children to do the work, so Daniel and others are recruited from the captives to become administrators.  Under them Babylon is able to produce the Temple of Marduk, an accomplishment that has never been duplicated; it is a mud brick tower, and during the building of it and thereafter the movement of air must be regulated to keep the bricks dry.  The Hanging Gardens are also built.  The reason these things can be built is that although Babylon has enormous resources, literacy is not widespread; it requires full time professionals just to read and write cuneiform.  The captives, however, use the far simpler Hebrew alphabet and are able to learn other things as well as to communicate over a wider range of contacts.

The captives had already been released to go back to Judea long before the time the tablets with the calculus were made.  But looking at the picture of the tablets, the writing is most compact.  This was not a work sheet.  Somebody was copying over a well established routine.  So the calculus might have been invented many years ago … you see where this goes.  It was invented during the captivity.

Ok.  No good evidence.  I’m just following a line of inference. 

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