Friday, November 12, 2010

Lost Sorcery: Medieval Math = Post Apocaplyptic Tech

An interesting article by Robert Lamb over at "How Stuff Works" talks about how mathematics during Medieval times was really a technology out-of-sync with the times. Interesting food for thought. We talk a lot about these concepts in fiction, but its interesting to hear more real-world examples from throughout human history.
In “The Geometry of Paradise” Mark A. Peterson points out that Dante could easily have excelled as a mathematician had he been born into a time when geometry was more fashionable. Instead Dante lived in an age of languishing mathematics between the Hellenistic period and the 17th century.

“Medieval cultures were in the peculiar condition of being un-mathematical cultures in possession of sophisticated mathematics. They possessed it in the sense of having the books, studying them and translating them, and even doing some mathematics, but they had no clear indication where this rich subject had come from or what it would be good for. They did not know, in our terms at least, what it was.” — Peterson
 Oh, and Lamb earns a +1 for including a Jack Vance/Dying Earth reference in the full story!


Lydia Kang said...

That is fascinating. There so much stuff in history that we can learn from. That out-of-sync concept is cool.
Thanks for stopping by my blog--I'm a new follower here too!

Jay said...

Welcome Lydia! Your blog about writing/creativity is cool. I esp. love the interview with the spleen!