shopify analytics ecommerce
tracking

Not the Greeks

3,700-year-old Babylonian tablet rewrites the history of maths - and shows the Greeks did not develop trigonometry

A 3,700-year-old clay tablet has proven that the Babylonians developed trigonometry 1,500 years before the Greeks and were using a sophisticated method of mathematics which could change how we calculate today.

The tablet, known as Plimpton 332, was discovered in the early 1900s in Southern Iraq by the American archaeologist and diplomat Edgar Banks, who was the inspiration for Indiana Jones.

The true meaning of the tablet has eluded experts until now but new research by the University of New South Wales, Australia, has shown it is the world’s oldest and most accurate trigonometric table, which was probably used by ancient architects to construct temples, palaces and canals.

However unlike today’s trigonometry, Babylonian mathematics used a base 60, or sexagesimal system, rather than the 10 which is used today. Because 60 is far easier to divide by three, experts studying the tablet, found that the calculations are far more accurate.

“Our research reveals that Plimpton 322 describes the shapes of right-angle triangles using a novel kind of trigonometry based on ratios, not angles and circles,” said Dr Daniel Mansfield of the School of Mathematics and Statistics in the UNSW Faculty of Science.

“It is a fascinating mathematical work that demonstrates undoubted genius. The tablet not only contains the world’s oldest trigonometric table; it is also the only completely accurate trigonometric table, because of the very different Babylonian approach to arithmetic and geometry.

“This means it has great relevance for our modern world. Babylonian mathematics may have been out of fashion for more than 3000 years, but it has possible practical applications in surveying, computer graphics and education.

“This is a rare example of the ancient world teaching us something new.”
     — Sarah Knapton
Comments

“The Personal Computer Revolution: Crash Course Computer Science ”


Comments

Disappearing sidebar

I had a problem this morning. I was going to post a cool eclipse picture at Technopagan Yearnings and there was no sidebar when I previewed the page. After trying all the things I could think of, I asked for help at the RapidWeaver forums.

A couple of hours later, I thought of another method. I copy-pasted everything to a plain text window in TextEdit and then deleted the blog entry. There was the sidebar again. Then I added each element, previewing after each. When I got to the actual body, that's what the problem was.

It's my own fault, I was trying something new. Not only did it not work, but I put in a period instead of a backslash. Lesson learned.

Artificial

The Myth of a Superhuman AI

I’ve heard that in the future computerized AIs will become so much smarter than us that they will take all our jobs and resources, and humans will go extinct. Is this true? That’s the most common question I get whenever I give a talk about AI. The questioners are earnest; their worry stems in part from some experts who are asking themselves the same thing. These folks are some of the smartest people alive today, such as Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Max Tegmark, Sam Harris, and Bill Gates, and they believe this scenario very likely could be true. Recently at a conference convened to discuss these AI issues, a panel of nine of the most informed gurus on AI all agreed this superhuman intelligence was inevitable and not far away.

Yet buried in this scenario of a takeover of superhuman artificial intelligence are five assumptions which, when examined closely, are not based on any evidence. These claims might be true in the future, but there is no evidence to date to support them. The assumptions behind a superhuman intelligence arising soon are:

Artificial intelligence is already getting smarter than us, at an exponential rate.

We’ll make AIs into a general purpose intelligence, like our own.

We can make human intelligence in silicon.

Intelligence can be expanded without limit.

Once we have exploding superintelligence it can solve most of our problems.

In contradistinction to this orthodoxy, I find the following five heresies to have more evidence to support them.

Intelligence is not a single dimension, so “smarter than humans” is a meaningless concept.

Humans do not have general purpose minds, and neither will AIs.

Emulation of human thinking in other media will be constrained by cost.

Dimensions of intelligence are not infinite.

Intelligences are only one factor in progress.

If the expectation of a superhuman AI takeover is built on five key assumptions that have no basis in evidence, then this idea is more akin to a religious belief — a myth. In the following paragraphs I expand my evidence for each of these five counter-assumptions, and make the case that, indeed, a superhuman AI is a kind of myth.
     —Kevin Kelly
Comments

Wound healing

“A Molecule In Bees' Royal Jelly Promotes Wound Healing”

Read More...
Comments

Accidental

I was going to fix it, but I decided it looked better that way.

Read More...
Comments

78rpm records digitized

“78rpm Records Digitized by George Blood, L.P.”

Read More...
Comments

Scratch

I keep a file named Scratch open in TextEdit.

Read More...
Comments

CSS class

This is something else I should have tried a long time ago.

Read More...
Comments

Wake up

I'm usually up early in the morning.

Read More...
Comments

Regrowth

“'Breakthrough' penny-sized nanochip pad is able to regrow organs and heal injuries”

Read More...
Comments

“Adam Savage Visits Third Man Records!”

“In Detroit, Adam stops by Jack White's Third Man Records, the first new record-pressing plant in the United States in three decades! In a truly immersive tour, Adam records his Brain Candy song and then follows his record's eventual process from lathe to cellophane. Bonus: Adam also chats with Jack White about how recording this way impacts the creative process!”

Read More...
Comments

Learning

“Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential”

Read More...
Comments

Two steps forward, one step back

Last night as I was staring at the ceiling, it dawned on me that I goofed.

Read More...
Comments

“Garner Holt Productions Animatronic Lincoln Expressive Humanoid Robot Head”

“Garner Holt Productions, Inc.'s (GHP) Abraham Lincoln expressive animatronic figure is the most advanced humanoid robotic head ever created. The figure utilizes theme park quality construction to accomplish incredible special effects movement in a robotic or animatronic human platform.”

Read More...
Comments

Deep coding

Once it is up I won't be editing it that often.

Read More...
Comments

Netflix doesn't remember me

No other password, just the Netflix.

Read More...
Comments

Robocalls

The irony is that these are almost all the calls I find most annoying.

Read More...
Comments

Unconnected

What happens then?

Read More...
Comments

Powered

Why not put an extra electrical outlet as well?

Read More...
Comments

YouTube autoplay

They lied.

Read More...
Comments

A fun way to spend a day and a half

Okay, that was weird.

Read More...
Comments

Claude Shannon

“The mathematical prodigy who gave the world ‘bits’”

Read More...
Comments

File format names

You can see an example in the entry URL above.

Read More...
Comments

Fixed the loading problem

Pagan Vigil has had a loading problem for years.

Read More...
Comments

A really smart glove

“Low-cost smart glove wirelessly translates the American Sign Language alphabet into text”

Read More...
Comments