Sunday, May 20, 2012

mildly mathematical: did he just call us "geeks" ..?

this headline has already gone through the rounds, but one quote makes me laugh:
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Ancient Mayan workshop for astronomers discovered
By Malcοlm Rιtter | Associated Press – Thu, May 10, 2012

The room, a bit bigger than 6-feet square, is part of a large complex of Mayan ruins in the rain forest at Xultun in northeastern Guatemala. The walls also contain portraits of a seated king and some other figures, but it's clear those have no connection to the astronomical writings, the scientists said.
On an adjacent wall are numbers indicating four time spans from roughly 935 to 6,700 years. It's not clear what they represent, but maybe the scribes were doing calculations that combined observations from important astronomical events like the movements of Mars, Venus and the moon, the researchers said.

Why bother to do that? Maybe the scribes were "geeks ... who just got carried away with doing these kinds of computations and calculations and probably did them far beyond the needs of ordinary society," Aveni suggested.

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i think that the anthropologist (or at least, the article's author) just suggested that every pure mathematician is a geek.

now i'm curious what was omitted in that ellipsis .. (-:

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