PhysLink.com Logo

Question

What is the origin of the fact that a circle has 360 degrees? Why not 720 or 270?
Asked by: R. Nair

Answer

It was during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar (605-562 BC) in the Chaldean dynasty in Babylon that the circle was divided into 360 degrees. This was because the Chaldeans had calculated by observation and inference that a complete year numbered 360 days. The basis of angular measure for the mathematicians of Babylon was the angle at each of the corners of an equilateral triangle. They did not have decimal fractions and thus found it difficult to deal with remainders when doing division. So they agreed to divide the corner of an equilateral triangle into 60 degrees, because 60 could be divided by 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 without remainder. Each degree was divided into 60 minutes and each minute into 60 seconds. If the angles at the corners of six equilateral triangles are placed together they form the angle formed by a complete circle. It is for this reason that there are six times 60 degrees of arc in the complete circle.

Credit: StudentsCount.com
Answered by: StudentsCount.com





Support US

Our server costs have gone up and our advertising revenue has gone down. You do the math! If you find our site useful, consider donating to keep us going. Thanks!


Science Quote

'Physics is mathematical not because we know so much about the physical world, but because we know so little; it is only its mathematical properties that we can discover.'

Bertrand Russell
(1872-1970)





All rights reserved. © Copyright '1995-'2018 PhysLink.com   Privacy Statement | Cookie Policy