Download The Cult of Pythagoras: Math and Myths by Alberto A. Martinez PDF

By Alberto A. Martinez

ISBN-10: 0822962705

ISBN-13: 9780822962700

In this follow-up to his renowned Science secrets and techniques, Alberto A. Martínez discusses numerous well known myths from the background of arithmetic: that Pythagoras proved the hypotenuse theorem, that Archimedes discovered tips to try out the purity of a gold crown whereas he was once in a tub, that the Golden Ratio is in nature and old structure, that the younger Galois created crew idea the evening earlier than the pistol duel that killed him, and extra. a few tales are in part real, others are totally fake, yet all exhibit the facility of invention in historical past. Pythagoras emerges as an emblem of the urge to conjecture and “fill within the gaps” of heritage. He has been credited with primary discoveries in arithmetic and the sciences, but there's approximately no proof that he fairly contributed something to such fields in any respect. This e-book asks: how does historical past swap after we subtract the various small exaggerations and interpolations that writers have additional for over thousand years?

The Cult of Pythagoras can also be approximately invention in a favorable experience. most folk view mathematical breakthroughs as “discoveries” instead of invention or creativity, believing that arithmetic describes a realm of everlasting rules. yet mathematicians have disagreed approximately what's attainable and very unlikely, approximately what counts as an explanation, or even concerning the result of definite operations. was once there ever invention within the heritage of innovations similar to 0, unfavorable numbers, imaginary numbers, quaternions, infinity, and infinitesimals?

Martínez inspects a wealth of basic resources, in different languages, over a span of many centuries. by means of exploring disagreements and ambiguities within the background of the weather of arithmetic, The Cult of Pythagoras dispels myths that vague the particular origins of mathematical suggestions. Martínez argues that a correct heritage that analyzes myths unearths missed facets of arithmetic that may inspire creativity in scholars and mathematicians.

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Extra resources for The Cult of Pythagoras: Math and Myths

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In any case, who was Hippasus? Well, aside from maybe divulging a way to inscribe a dodecahedron in a sphere, he seems to show up in a few more ancient sources. For example, Aristotle mentions a Hippasus who believed that the world was fundamentally made of fire. 29 Anyhow, we don’t know who discovered incommensurability. 31 And how did the ancients first find that some lengths are incommensurable with others? We don’t know, but at least we have an allusion to an early proof. Aristotle made Table 3.

It is just a distortion of other stories. It originated by blending two mythical stories about death at sea. The story that a tomb was erected for Hippasus is also a misapprehension (see table 3). Note also that the accounts of Iamblichus and Pappus do not specify whether the discoverer of incommensurability was a Pythagorean. But it would seem that at least the Pythagoreans knew about the topic and that they were awfully disturbed when one of them made that knowledge public. And their god too was outraged?

10 T R I A NG L E SAC R I F IC E TO T H E G O D S example of the claim that Pythagoras introduced proof into mathematics. In the longtime bestselling book Men of Mathematics, first published in 1937, the mathematician Eric Temple Bell claimed: “Pythagoras then imported proof into mathematics. This is his greatest achievement. 41 Much earlier, the notion that Pythagoras proved the hypotenuse theorem spread thanks to the imaginative words of Galileo Galilei. ”42 But really, what are the earliest traces of the idea that Pythagoras was engaged in mathematics at all?

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