Where execute the 360 levels of a circle come from? when did this method of divvying up a circle become common practice? who made this choice? and also why? keep on reading to find out.

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Have you ever before thought about how it’s kind of weird the a circle has 360 degrees? At an initial thought, the seems favor a quite random number to have chosen—why not 100, or 500, or 720 degrees? was it yes, really a arbitrarily choice? Or was there in reality some good reason the 360 was preferred to be the variety of divisions in a circle?As we’ll discover out today, over there was without doubt a great reason. What to be it? We’re not totally sure. Yet we do have some pretty an excellent ideas. And those principles are exactly what we’re going to be talking about.

The When and also Where that 360 Degrees

As you more than likely know, this days we human beings like to divide a one up right into 360 pie-shaped wedges. Each of these wedges contains an angle at its vertex, and we say the the size of this angle is 1 degree. Together you also probably know, levels aren’t the only means we can measure angles. Angle are also measured in radians and also sometimes (very rarely), they are even measured in obscure military units called gradians (which is why a the majority of calculators have actually “deg rad grad” buttons on them).While us don’t know exactly why the 360 level convention was liked (more on the in a minute), we execute know approximately when and where it every started. At the very least we know that it became a long, long time ago—as in 4 or 5 thousand years earlier with the Babylonians, the Greeks, and perhaps various other even much more ancient groups.As come the concern of why 360 levels was chosen, here’s what we think happened …

Reason #1: The size of the Year

Even if you have absolutely no idea ideal at this prompt why there room 360 degrees in a circle, ns bet the if friend stop and also think because that a few minutes friend can figure out one possibility. If after those couple of minutes you’re still not sure, think around where else you’ve seen a number that’s close to 360 in your life. And if you’re still stuck after that, think around the sunlight … the earth … orbits … and calendars.Got it?You could conclude that the sun moves about 1/360 the the method along this one every day.The planet takes one year to orbit the Sun. And a year is just a little much more than 365 days. That way that the earth rotates top top its axis a little an ext than 365 times every year. And also it method that every work the Sun shows up to move about 1/365 the the means along a vast circle projected onto the sky that extends all the method around the earth (called the ecliptic). If you lived a couple of millennia earlier and didn’t have modern instruments to accurately document the location of objects in the sky, you could conclude that the sunlight moves about 1/360 that the method along this one every day, i m sorry is specifically what old astronomers did. And they climate made a leap and also decided to division this circle on the sky—and every circles—into 360 also parts so that the sunlight would move through 1 component per day. Every of these components was dubbed 1 degree, thus providing us the idea that a circle consists of 360 degrees.Makes sense, right? and also given that the ancient Babylonian and Persian calendars were both based top top 360-day years, that seems most likely that this basic astronomical observation is the factor a circle includes 360 degrees.

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About the Author


Jason Marshall, doctor
Jason Marshall is the writer of The math Dude's Quick and also Dirty overview to Algebra. He offers clear explanations of mathematics terms and principles, and also his simple tricks for solving simple algebra troubles will have even the many math-phobic person looking front to functioning out whatever math trouble comes their way.