If a modern math textbook says anything about the Agnesi for whom it is named, it will probably note that Maria Gaetana Agnesi was an 18th-century mathematician who became the first woman to write a major calculus textbook. It may also note that the name is a mistranslation of the Italian versiera, a term the mathematician Guido Grandi had coined based on the Latin for “turning curve,” which translator John Colson mistook for “avversiera,” which means she-devil—or, more succinctly, witch.
That a devout Catholic woman who dedicated decades of her life to serving the poor should be perpetually associated with a witch via a curve she didn’t even invent is ironic to say the least. But in some ways it feels fitting. “It really is like a Freudian slip of the mathematical imagination to make the Italian word ‘curve’ into the Italian word for a diabolically possessed woman,” says Stanford University science historian Paula Findlen. “It’s a great mathematical joke.” Whether he was being deliberately punny or not, Colson’s mistranslation has cemented Agnesi’s place in calculus classes.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.