It’s September, and we’re soon reaching the 1 week break before term 4 begins! Take a quick breather with us and dive into great math facts about the month. Spark Math by Spark Education is continuing our series, “This Month in Math History.” From switching calendar systems to how a moth caused a term still used in modern tech, here’s how math helped affect history in September!
2 September 1752: UK switched to the Gregorian calendar, skipping 11 days in the process
We would not be able to tell the date without a calendar–that’s how important a calendar is. Before the use of the Gregorian calendar today, the British followed the Julian calendar, implemented in 46 BC by Julius Caesar.
However, the Julian calendar did not accurately reflect the time in a year. It was 11 minutes and 14 seconds longer than what a year should be, causing the calendar to drift by about a day every 314 years. Over time, the Julian calendar became out of sync with astronomical events such as the winter solstice. To fix the discrepancy, Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull in 1582 to implement the Gregorian calendar. This calendar reform was adopted by five countries–Italy, France, Portugal, Spain and Poland.
As time passed, more countries made the switch. To sync with the Gregorian calendar, a number of days had to be omitted. In the UK, this unique situation took place on 2 September 1752 as they dropped 11 days from the calendar. So, for that year, 2 September, Wednesday, was followed by 14 September, Thursday!
Fast Math Fact: On 9 September 1947, the first computer bug was caught (literally!)
Have you ever wondered how “bug” came to be the term for a glitch in the computer system or a program? This phrase is all thanks to a real life bug, a moth, who got caught in a Harvard University computer. This moth became the namesake for every issue a computer or program has had since.
12 September, 490 BCE: The Battle of Marathon leads to the name of the Race
26.2 miles is a long distance to run. For over a million people a year, running that distance is something they train for all year. From Boston to Tokyo, marathons are one of the hardest activities anyone can do. A physical feat so hard, it’s said that the first person to run one died at the end of his run. This is the story of how Greek history led to the length of one of the world’s most famous races.
Pheidippides was a Greek soldier who fought a battle near a Greek town called Marathon. This battle was against the Persians and would lead to a Greek victory. In order to get the news to Athens, Pheidippides was told to run to Athens to spread the word. This was a distance of around 40 kilometres, a trip that would end with this soldier spreading the word of victory.
In 1986, the Olympic officials honoured the history of Greek sports by naming the 42.195-kilometre race marathon. A year later, the first Boston Marathon occurred, named and inspired by the event. Today, there are marathons happening weekly around the world.
Marathons, like most track and field events, rely on simple math to determine the winner. Distance, time, height, and so many other measurements go into judging winners of these types of events. Even creating marathon routes in cities takes math and strategy to make sure to hit the 42.195-kilometre mark.
Spark Education makes math part of your history!
This September there are tons of ways to see how math affects the world. If you’re looking for more fun and exciting math facts, check out “This Month in Math” for August. Looking for engaging and effective math classes for children? Check out Spark Math by Spark Education, and sign up to try a free demo class today!