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I've created a new proposal on Area 51 for a Stack Exchange focusing on the history of mathematics and science.

As a math student, I am constantly studying the history of the subject. I feel that ultimately, it's the only way to really get a sense of that all important holy grail of mathematics learning: motivation. As for science, studying the history of the subject overlaps very strongly with appreciating the evidence for modern science, since all of the experiments and mathematical arguments were done a long time ago and are seldom mentioned nowadays outside of histories of the subject. And all of this is aside from the fact that the history of science is inherently interesting.

In both cases, mining the literature alone can be very difficult at times, and an SE would be really beneficial. I also hope that this SE might promote the study of the history of science and math among both students and teachers, since I (and hopefully you, too!) really think it's almost crucial if you want to really understanding either subject.

This SE is different to history.SE firstly because it's more specialized, but more importantly because answering or asking questions about the history of science will usually require knowledge of science (or math) as well as just history. Asking about the origin of $p$-adic numbers is unlikely to get you anywhere on a site full of people who are primarily interested in history and not math.

This SE is different to math.SE or physics.SE because an interest in history (let alone an in depth knowledge of it) isn't necessarily standard among math or physics experts, so a question about any even slightly obscure topic in history is unlikely to get a very good answer unless the right person happens by.

I invite anyone interested in the history of math and science to follow the proposal on Area 51, vote up example questions that you find interesting, and post your own example questions.

Area 51 link: http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/65204/history-of-science-and-mathematics/

Meta discussion on physics.SE: https://physics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5494/area-51-proposal-history-of-science-and-mathematics

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    $\begingroup$ There are currently over 300 questions here tagged [math-history] with scores over 6, and less than 1/5 of all questions with that tag are "unanswered". I imagine people looking for math history answers will have been finding this site through internet searches, and if they are knowledgeable, will subscribe to the [math-history] tag. $\endgroup$ – Mark S. Feb 16 '14 at 8:48
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    $\begingroup$ @MarkS. Well, I certainly wouldn't want to harm the community. I feel it's an important enough subject to deserve it's own site, do you think it would have detrimental effects? $\endgroup$ – Jack M Feb 16 '14 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ I feel this se would be too specialised when the tag currently in use on this site seems to suffice and even thrive. $\endgroup$ – Dan Rust Feb 16 '14 at 17:07
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    $\begingroup$ As the SE team has said many times, it's okay if questions on a new SE site are on-topic on an old SE site. As long as the new site can build momentum and attract a sufficient userbase, it's okay to `spin off' sub topics. $\endgroup$ – Brian Rushton Feb 17 '14 at 0:09
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    $\begingroup$ My first beta subscription. It is in my current purview of serious spare time research. I am currently digesting François Viète translations with the 16th to 17th century transition to symbolic algebra in mind, and just bought and started digesting Florian Cajori's history of mathematical notation (finally) in earnest. In this particular case, I am glad to be a part of a beta that might fail. Count me in as a follower. It would please me to see something like this thrive. Note that there is a powerhouse of math history knowledge right here in the users already on this site. $\endgroup$ – J. W. Perry Feb 17 '14 at 6:05
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    $\begingroup$ One other reason why a new site isn't unnecessary is that not every math history question is necessarily about math itself. For example, questions about mathematics funding in various eras, about education in ancient Alexandria, or about the origin of particular very old mathematical journals would be pretty borderline on math.SE. $\endgroup$ – Jack M Feb 17 '14 at 15:08
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    $\begingroup$ My perfectly good physics history question was summarily closed by a moderator as "too localized". I did more research and would have written an answer, but the question was closed, so I did not post it. $\endgroup$ – MJD Feb 18 '14 at 2:41
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    $\begingroup$ actually I am subscribed to [math-history], but I believe that having a specialized site on SE would be overkill. $\endgroup$ – mau Feb 18 '14 at 14:46
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    $\begingroup$ One possible reason to have a SE on history of math and science is the situation with [math-history] where many questions are closed with the stated reason that they are opinion-based. Now many, many important questions of historical interpretation have reasoned answers that don't necessarily agree with each other and therefore always risk falling under the category of "opinion-based". Having a separate SE may help deal with the knee-jerk reaction of some of the editors at [math-history] to "close" a question if they feel it does not possess a unique and definitive answer. In history this is.. $\endgroup$ – Mikhail Katz Feb 19 '14 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ ...a normal state of affairs. On the other hand, I don't see an overabundance of questions at [math-history]. Perhaps the OP could contribute a fair number of valuable historical questions which would strengthen the case for a separate SE. $\endgroup$ – Mikhail Katz Feb 19 '14 at 13:59
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    $\begingroup$ Keep in mind that this proposal is for the history of math and science. Whether math-history encompasses the first part is arguable, but I don't know of a good, existing Q&A site about scientific history. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Gruber Feb 19 '14 at 17:06
  • $\begingroup$ I think the site has great potential, and ought to have an independent existence. $\endgroup$ – André Nicolas Oct 29 '14 at 6:19
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The site is now in private beta!

Private betas are not really private: anyone can join, or simply browse the site by clicking here and then clicking the site name on the login page. (Logging in is optional.)

hsm

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