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Lectures on Quaternions

Nature volume 57, page 7 | Download Citation

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Abstract

WE are unable to read this treatise, because it is printed in Japanese. The mathematical formulæ and woodcuts show that the author is introducing his students to those elementary geometrical (curve and surface) illustrations of the vector calculus (mainly vector addition and differentials) which may be taken up without any knowledge of a quaternion. The characters are printed in horizontal rows instead of the usual vertical columns, and this might be taken as the text for a sermon on the modern changes in Japan. The concession is necessary if a student is to read mathematical formulæ with ease, yet it is one which need not alarm the scholars, and by making it the author takes away an objection to the use of Japanese characters, and so keeps his reader in touch with Japanese literature. Every Japanese reader of such a treatise is well acquainted with English, and if the teaching of mathematical science were to be considered by itself, all such books might just as well be printed in English. But it is well known to all who have studied the Japanese that they are not merely studying our commercial and military and scientific ideas, but how they may assimilate these ideas without undue hurt to their own old civilisation and developed instincts and fine moral character, which seem to them, and indeed to some of us, of a very much higher order than what we find in Europe. Well, the vector calculus can do little harm to anybody; but when Part ii. is published, and the author introduces his quarternions, he may be glad that the old scholars who protect the morals of his country are unable to understand what he is writing about.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/057007b0

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