A Culture of Mathematics

November 26, 2010 in events, formulas, news

see the slideshow on www.nytimes.com

Thirteen cuneiform clay tablets of ancient Mesopotamia, dating from 1900 to 1700 B.C., are on display until Dec. 17 at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, part of New York University.

Many are exercises of students learning to be scribes, who were mastering mathematics based on texts in Sumerian, a language that even at the time was long since dead.

The items are drawn from archaeological collections of Columbia, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania and include two celebrated tablets, known as YBC 7289 and Plimpton 322, that have played central roles in the reconstruction of Babylonian math.

Dave Benson, “Music: A Mathematical Offering”

November 25, 2010 in books, formulas, news, sound

Publisher: Cambridge University Press | Pages: 426 | ISBN:0521853877 | PDF | 8.5 MB

Since the time of the Ancient Greeks, much has been written about the relation between mathematics and music: from harmony and number theory, to musical patterns and group theory. Benson provides a wealth of information here to enable the teacher, the student, or the interested amateur to understand, at varying levels of technicality, the real interplay between these two ancient disciplines. The story is long as well as broad and involves physics, biology, psychoacoustics, the history of science, and digital technology as well as, of course, mathematics and music. Starting with the structure of the human ear and its relationship with Fourier analysis, the story proceeds via the mathematics of musical instruments to the ideas of consonance and dissonance, and then to scales and temperaments. This is a must-have book if you want to know about the music of the spheres, digital music, and many things in between.