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"Old Math... REALLY Old Math" Topic

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357 hits since 24 Aug 2017
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Parzival24 Aug 2017 6:08 p.m. PST

Ancient Babylonian tablet turns out to be a trigonometry table made 1,000 years before the invention of trigonometry…and it uses a radically different numerical system that is both easier and more accurate than base 10 trigonometry. link

Take *that*, "New Math."

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP24 Aug 2017 6:51 p.m. PST


boy wundyr x Inactive Member25 Aug 2017 7:11 a.m. PST

Make Math Babylonian Again!

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP25 Aug 2017 7:45 a.m. PST

If only we had been born with 6 fingers on a hand instead of 5.
Or 5 and a thumb if you want to be pedantic.

But back to the article, more accurate?
Please. It's like saying D20 is more accurate than D6.
Or that Metric is "more accurate" than Imperial.

YouTube link

lugal hdan25 Aug 2017 8:18 a.m. PST

If you have no zero, then there ARE 6 ways you can configure your hand. (Unless you could multiple fingers extended, but that gets difficult to do.)

boy wundyr x Inactive Member25 Aug 2017 8:56 a.m. PST

A mathematician needs to weigh in with the details, but my takeaway was that their number system was more accurate for trig. because it was evenly divisible by 3 and therefore produced less fractions, and from there less rounding, and from there less error.

genew49 Supporting Member of TMP25 Aug 2017 9:38 a.m. PST

Or old "New Math"

goragrad25 Aug 2017 12:15 p.m. PST

As to fingers and base 10 vs base 60, just reread Louis L'Amour Californios in which a character remarks to another about seeing paintings in caves of figures with 6 fingers on their hands. The other character replies then that he had seen a fragment of statuary that was an arm with 6 fingers on the hand.

Published in 1974 that was about the time the von Daniken gods from space was popular.

Obviously the 6 fingered aliens taught the Babylonians trigonometry…

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP25 Aug 2017 1:32 p.m. PST

Ease in calculating does not equate to accuracy. Nor does precision (more decimal places) in a readout.

Look how well the Romans did with Roman numerals! grin

boy wundyr x Inactive Member25 Aug 2017 2:35 p.m. PST

Here's the paper if you want the details, p.21:

Nick Bowler26 Aug 2017 2:06 p.m. PST

By counting joints on fingers with the thumb, it is easy to count to 12 on 1 hand. Hence the appearance of 12 in number systems repeatedly.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP06 Dec 2017 11:09 a.m. PST

Good call Nick. It has nothing to do with having 6 fingers. By counting the 12 finger segments on one hand and using the 5 fingers from the other hand as place holders we get 5X12=60.

As mentioned by Winston, base 60 is no more accurate that base 10. Base sixty is just easier to divide the integers 2,3,4,5,6,10,12,15,20, and 30 for primitive people who hadn't developed a system for denoting fractions, such as decimal places.

And actually Roman mathematics is easier than expected.


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