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UK > Napier University, Edinburgh, Scotland

057

Napier University, Edinburgh, Scotland

gkat_057.pdf 55° 55 59.93 N, 3° 12 50.21 W

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John Napier and Napier’s Bones

Just as William Shakespeare was writing about the fictional Macbeth scheming to become King of Scotland, the real-life 8th Laird of Merchiston, the mathematician John Napier, was devising schemes for simplifying multiplication. His best-known inventions are Napier’s Bones and logarithms (see sidebar). He also helped popularize the decimal point.

Napier was born in 1550 at Merchiston Tower in Edinburgh. The tower was the seat of the Clan Napier, which still exists today; John Napier was the clan’s 8th laird. The tower is also still standing, but is no longer used by the clan; it forms part of Napier University’s Merchiston campus. Outside the main entrance of the university’s Craighouse campus stands a statue of a rather fearsome-looking John Napier, holding his “bones” in one hand.


  

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