Tuesday, February 27, 2007

That Mythic Golden Age

More propaganda from Reuters, slobbering over supposed medieval muslim achievements, which were oh-so-superior to our poor, pathetic culture -- talk about double standards:

Medieval Muslims made stunning math breakthrough

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Magnificently sophisticated geometric patterns in medieval Islamic architecture indicate their designers achieved a mathematical breakthrough 500 years earlier than Western scholars, scientists said on Thursday.
Bite me! They did not! If a monkey types a word at random on a keyboard that doesn't mean it's going to write Hamlet next, because it has no understanding of what it just did.

Modern mathematicians understood what they were deriving, and how the equations described the design, and what the significance of it was.

This artwork is just an interesting geometric design, that in hindsight, happens to vaguely be describable by Penrose tiling.

Big deal!

But Reuters can't miss the opportunity to shovel its propaganda:
By the 15th century, decorative tile patterns on these masterpieces of Islamic architecture reached such complexity that a small number boasted what seem to be "quasicrystalline" designs, Harvard University's Peter Lu and Princeton University's Paul Steinhardt wrote in the journal Science.

Only in the 1970s did British mathematician and cosmologist Roger Penrose become the first to describe these geometric designs in the West. [what, like anybody "described" them elsewhere? -- ed.] Quasicrystalline patterns comprise a set of interlocking units whose pattern never repeats, even when extended infinitely in all directions, and possess a special form of symmetry.

"Oh, it's absolutely stunning," Lu said in an interview. "They made tilings that reflect mathematics that were so sophisticated that we didn't figure it out until the last 20 or 30 years."

Lu and Steinhardt in particular cite designs on the Darb-i Imam shrine in Isfahan, Iran, built in 1453.
Of course, whenever wire services talk about the 15th century about the West, they're always talking about how evil we are for harming noble, peaceful indigenous populations -- never anything positive like this fantasy:
While Europe was mired in the Dark Ages, Islamic culture flourished beginning in the 7th century, with achievements over numerous centuries in mathematics, medicine, engineering, ceramics, art, textiles, architecture and other areas.

Lu said the new revelations suggest Islamic culture was even more advanced than previously thought.
They're advanced, do you hear me, ADVANCED!!!

My first thought on reading about this "quasicrystalline" breakthrough was it was ridiculous.

Such a view appears down at the bottom of the article:
Joshua Socolar, a Duke university physicist, said it is unclear whether the medieval Islamic artisans fully understood the mathematical properties of the patterns they were making.

"It leads you to wonder whether they kind of got lucky," Socolar said in an interview.
"And it will be a lot of fun if somebody turns up bigger tilings that sort of make a more convincing case that they understood even more of the geometry than the present examples show," Socolar said.
"Unclear", ha, that's a good bit of understatement right there.

And maybe spacemen built the pyramids!


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Not the Dark Ages - The Middle Ages and Other Misnomers

The term "Middle Ages" is a curious concept. It implies that this long period of history was merely a transition, an aberration, between Antiquity and what followed after, the modern age. This was precisely how the name was coined, during the 15th century Italian renaissance, by people who perceived themselves as recreating the Classical Age of arts they so much admired. The Middle Ages, roughly running from the fall of Rome in the 5th century until the reformation in the 16th century, depending on your vantage point, has ever since been described as a dark abyss of barbarism where history hibernated until Europe again rose, like phoenix, from the ashes.

This concept is powerful, but deceptive, on many counts.

8:16 PM, February 27, 2007  
Blogger The_Bad said...

Perhaps Cavemen actually discovered Penicillin because they were the first to recognize mold on their food.

I think I read somewhere that aliens, uh I mean undocumented visitors from outer space, actually did build the pyramids. Hey, I read it online so it must be true!

11:40 AM, March 01, 2007  

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