February 5, 2008

Math = Magic

As promised, below I have posted a sweet pic of my newest identifying mark, courtesy of my superbad friend Ewisa.

Despite the nightmares that math gives me when I pursue it directly, I am awed at how many of my most beloved activities were born of math and need it to survive—baking, singing, gaming, astronomy, and yes, even blogging.

As a 12-year veteran of choirs and a HUGE karaoke fan, the singing part is the most beautiful example, imho, and the main inspiration for this tat. It derives from a 1959 Disney educational film, which portrayed Pythagoras and his crew as a secret society of "eggheads" who discovered the ratios that birthed modern music.



The magic ratio for Pythagoras was 2:1, which yields an octave, and from there a few basic fractions created the well-known musical scale. The famous Greek is also credited with Pythagorean tuning, in which the 3:2 ratio gives us the musical interval for the perfect fifth.


The pentagram—a symbol used by the Pythagoreans to identify kindred thinkers—contains another famous ratio: the golden section. This formula has been admired since the time of the ancient Greeks for being the basis of aesthetically pleasing proportions in art and nature.

For religious purposes, the Pythagoreans often inscribed the pentagram with the Greek letters for hugieia, which means "health" or "wellness" and was the name of a minor goddess.

As evidenced by the Disney vid, popular perception has Pythagoras revered as a great philosopher and mathematician. But in reality none of his writings have survived, so doubts exist as to what he really contributed to the fields.

Regardless, the man's magical legend lives on, and the fundamental truth that math and music are intertwined will always be an inspiration for me.

2 comments:

Elisa said...

Dude! That does indeed look sweet! Hooray!!

Picadella said...

Awesome! I didn't want to admit I didn't know the meaning behind it! Now I can act all intelligent again. I love it, btw.

Katy