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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Of Kuhn and Pythagorus

Errol Morris at the NY Times has been running a (5-part) series centered around philosopher Thomas Kuhn (of "paradigm-shift" fame). Part 3, is just out, and if historical (or, in this case, ancient) mathematics interests you, you may find his discussion of the Pythagoreans, "incommensurability," and irrationality of √2, quite fascinating --- the piece is long (and the extensive footnotes also worth reading), so only link to it when you have some time to sit and read:

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/08/the-ashtray-hippasus-of-metapontum-part-3/

The first two parts of this engaging series are below:

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/the-ashtray-the-ultimatum-part-1/

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/07/the-ashtray-shifting-paradigms-part-2/

(For those of you who are Thomas Kuhn fans, I'll warn you that Morris is not.)

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