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  • Publication
    Connecting the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions: The Role of Practical Mathematics
    (Cambridge University Press, 2022-07-06) ;
    Disputes over whether the Scientific Revolution contributed to the Industrial Revolution begin with the common assumption that natural philosophers and artisans formed radically distinct groups. In reality, these groups merged together through a diverse group of applied mathematics teachers, textbook writers and instrument makers catering to a market ranging from navigators and surveyors to bookkeepers. Besides its direct economic contribution in diffusing useful numerical skills, this "practical mathematics" facilitated later industrialization in two ways. First, a large supply of instrument and watch makers provided Britain with a pool of versatile, mechanically skilled labour to build the increasingly complicated machinery of the late eighteenth century. Second, the less well known but equally revolutionary innovations in machine tools—which, contrary to the Habbakuk thesis, occurred largely in Britain during the 1820s and 1830s to mass produce interchangeable parts for iron textile machinery—drew on a technology of exact measurement developed for navigational and astronomical instruments.
    Scopus© Citations 4  9