Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Somebody Knew

 Mathematician Dr Daniel Mansfield with the Plimpton 322 tablet.
Photograph: UNSW/Andrew Kelly
This just in to the Somebody Knew Department©… from the University of New South Wales in Sydney:

Some really smart people lived a bazillion years ago and they gifted us a tablet with some smart stuff inscribed on it. We don’t know much at all about them, but some really smart people from our time, led by Australian mathematician Dr Daniel Mansfield, have ciphered out what the ancient ones left for us to discover.

Dr. Mansfield explained, “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 3,000 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.”

“The tablet also long predates the Greek astronomer Hipparchus, traditionally regarded as the father of trigonometry.”

Please go here for the whole story.

Base 60 & Base 10
Ancient Babylonian tablet - world's first trig table

Aug 24, 2017
UNSW Sydney scientists have discovered the purpose of a famous 3700-year old Babylonian clay tablet, revealing it is the world’s oldest and most accurate trigonometric table, most likely used by ancient mathematical scribes to calculate how to construct palaces, temples and stepped pyramids. 

Who Are You - The Who - 1978

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