06 December 2006

Further Proof...

That Our Ancestors Weren't Stupid

Just because the Greeks didn't have cell phones and iPods, doesn't mean ancient civilization was barely one step above pond scum. A neat picture on the Astronomy Picture of the Day website shows the Antikythera mechanism in all its encrusted and corroded glory. So what is the Antikythera mechanism? an ancient mechanical analog computer. Take that, Bill Gates.

You can read all about it on Wikipedia HERE and on the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project Home page HERE .

I'd say the Antikythera mechanism is a great example of math in practical application. So why aren't school kids studying this instead of how to calculate ratios of M & M's? Oh yeah, I forgot, M & M's are more relevant. Pretty. Yummy. I sure would have been more interested in science if it hadn't been presented to me as A) only for the mathematical geniuses among us, B) interesting, C) tied to our history, and D) Not taught by those with no interest in anything outside their narrow field. Once they started uncoupling the disiplines from one another, everything went to hell. No disipline is an island. Heck, maybe I need to revisit Venn diagrams too.

Rant for the day is over, you may return to your regularly scheduled indifference now.

6 comments:

Gabriele C. said...

That's a cool device. Take that, Bill Gates, indeed. Probably worked more reliable as well. :)

I agree, math would have been a lot more fun if it had been connected to life and history, and I don't mean by including pieces of apple pies to demonstrate a circle and angles. I could make the connection for some other subjects myself, but maths always left me cold and bored.

Constance said...

Hmm, I barely passed algebra and geometry, but got A's in Astronomy and Physics. But I was told I couldn't do math, and that science wasn't for me. Go figure.

My favorite Heinlein quote:
"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

Gabriele C. said...

Hm, changing diapers and solving equations would be my weak points.

Should try the sonnet thing one day though I seldom feel like writing poetry (I sometimes translate it, though), and the rest is easy. I've planned more than one invasion already, it's what you get for writing historical fiction with a strong military element, and while I have not butchered a pig myself yet, I've been present at more than one butchering (I make a great blood soup even the Spartans would like) and I've helped building a wall. Does designing websites count as computer programming? I've pitched my share of manure, too, it comes with having been the owner of half a horse. :)

Constance said...

Yeah, well, the 'die gallantly' part would give me some pause. I'm a wuss, and hate the sight of blood. Especially my own.

Scott Oden said...

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly."

Well, I can take orders, though not very well; I can pitch manure, figuratively speaking, and I often die gallantly, though only while playing Halo. I guess in Heinlein's eyes I'd be a little better than an insect but not quite a fully-functioning primate.

Constance said...

So that would make you an....

Orc?

*ducks*