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The Pythagorean Theorem Found On Clay Tablet 1,000 Years Older Than Pythagoras

By: April Carson

When we think of the Pythagorean Theorem, our minds often wander to Pythagoras, the ancient Greek mathematician credited with its discovery. However, a fascinating revelation has emerged from the dusty archives of ancient Babylon – a clay tablet, known as IM 67118, containing the Pythagorean Theorem, predating Pythagoras himself by a staggering 1,000 years.

The Babylonian Tablet:

Imagine stumbling upon a dusty clay tablet labeled IM 67118, its contents hinting at a mathematical understanding far beyond its time. This ancient artifact, likely used for educational purposes, dates back to 1770 BCE, a staggering centuries before Pythagoras' birth in around 570 BCE.

Solving the Diagonal:

The tablet's purpose becomes apparent as researchers decipher its markings. It contains a practical application of what we now know as the Pythagorean theorem, unraveling the mystery of finding the length of a diagonal within a rectangle. The Babylonian mathematicians, using the then-prevalent base-60 counting system, showcased a deep understanding of geometric principles.

Earlier Evidence:

The intrigue doesn't stop there. Another tablet, dating from approximately 1800–1600 BCE, features a square adorned with labeled triangles. Translating the ancient Babylonian base-60 markings revealed not only an awareness of the Pythagorean theorem but also an understanding of more advanced mathematical concepts.

The Revelation:

Mathematician Bruce Ratner, in his groundbreaking paper on the subject, asserts, "The conclusion is inescapable. The Babylonians knew the relation between the length of the diagonal of a square and its side: d=square root of 2." Ratner further suggests that this revelation probably marked the first known encounter with an irrational number. This understanding, in turn, implies that the Babylonians were acquainted with the Pythagorean theorem, or at the very least, its special case for the diagonal of a square (d^2 = a^2 + a^2 = 2a^2) – more than a millennium before Pythagoras entered the mathematical scene.

Implications and Significance:

The implications of this discovery are profound. It challenges our conventional understanding of the history of mathematical knowledge, highlighting the contributions of ancient Babylonian mathematicians. This advanced understanding of geometric principles adds another layer to the rich tapestry of human intellectual achievement, emphasizing that groundbreaking discoveries are not confined to a specific time or place.

As we continue to unearth the mysteries of the past, the Babylonian tablet IM 67118 stands as a testament to the ingenuity of ancient mathematicians. The Pythagorean theorem, once attributed solely to Pythagoras, now finds itself rooted in a history that predates the famed Greek mathematician by a staggering 1,000 years. The journey into the annals of mathematical history continues, reminding us that the pursuit of knowledge transcends the boundaries of time and space.

Goodbye Grind, Hello Life: How I Fired Myself To Happiness

About the Blogger:

April Carson is a remarkable individual whose life has been shaped by her determination, dedication, and unwavering passion for both education and sports. Born as the daughter of Billy Carson, she embarked on a journey that would lead her to outstanding achievements and a profound impact on her community.

April's academic journey commenced at Jacksonville University, where she pursued her love for the Social Sciences. She quickly distinguished herself as a diligent student, displaying an insatiable curiosity for understanding the world around her. Her commitment to her studies was matched only by her desire to make a difference in her chosen field.

While her academic pursuits were certainly impressive, it was April's involvement in sports that truly set her apart. She was not just a student at Jacksonville University; she was also a vital member of the Women's Basketball team. On the court, April's dedication and talent were evident for all to see. She exhibited leadership, teamwork, and a relentless drive to excel, qualities that would become hallmarks of her personality both on and off the court.

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