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In a Feynman book, he talks about a man (I believe he lived 400-500 years ago) that discovered something about the dimensions of triangles (I think)by hanging a chain around the triangle. I've searched in "Six Not So Easy Pieces" but haven't been able to find it.

I'm trying to find the name of this man; it would be great if someone remembers this (or know whom I'm talking about off the top of their head).

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Stevinus. But this is not the right question for this site... – Marek Jul 26 '11 at 6:14
up vote 7 down vote accepted

I think it may be Simon Stevin. He lived in years 1548–1620 and did put chain around triangle, which helped him study equilibrium of forces on inclined plane.

This is Wikipedia article about him:

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He also invented the modern decimal system, and introduced terms for mathematics (wiskunde) and geometry (meetkunde), as well as other technical words, in the Dutch language. – Raskolnikov Jul 26 '11 at 6:55

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