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Math, speech, and trees

December 3, 2011

Students laboring over their algebra homework likely won’t take much comfort from the fact that cuneiform tablets from 2,500 BCE contain word problems. This comes from mathematician Duncan Melville, who maintains a website on the origins of mathematics.

Carl Zimmer has a nice post on Svante Paabo and the use of genetics to probe human evolution, including language capacity of early human lineages.

Leonardo Da Vinci discovered a fractal rule that growing trees follow. Christophe Eloy, a visiting physicist at UCSD, ties that to the ability to stand up to wind. The Hungarian biologist Aristid Lindemayer investigated how simple rules generate the complex shapes of plants. The photo shows artificial plants generated by an L-system.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2011 7:30 pm

    Didn’t some 12-year-old just use the growth habits of trees to design a better solar array?

    Love your blog.

  2. rturpin permalink*
    December 7, 2011 12:07 am

    If I recall correctly, the young inventor used the Fibonacci sequence. And that is related to all sorts of growth processes.

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