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Ancient Puzzle Gets New Lease on 'Geomagical' Life 73

Posted by timothy
from the what-do-you-call-the-part-above-the-subtext dept.
techbeat writes "An ancient mathematical puzzle has found a new lease on life, reports New Scientist. The magic square is the basis for Sudoku, pops up on the back of a turtle in Chinese legend and provides a playful way to introduce children to arithmetic. But all this time it has been concealing a more complex geometrical form, says recreational mathematician Lee Sallows. He recently released dozens of examples of his 'geomagic squares' online. 'To come up with this after thousands of years of study of magic squares is pretty amazing,' blogged author Alex Bellos. Magic squares are used to help create codes for transmitting information and in the design of drug trials so geomagic ones may have real-world uses, says mathematician Peter Cameron. New Scientist has also put up a gallery of the geomagic squares."
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Ancient Puzzle Gets New Lease on 'Geomagical' Life

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  • Not exactly a turtle (Score:5, Informative)

    by jsse (254124) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @05:08AM (#35006372) Homepage Journal
    It was no ordinary turtle. It is called a dragon turtle which is huge in size with a dragon head: http://www.kunde.org.tw/image3/01-book-032.jpg [kunde.org.tw]

    Legend said that it carried strange messages on its shell. The messages looked simple (as you can see in the picture above) but people later found the complex meanings behind them.

    This messages are the building blocks of most numerologies in ancient China, including Fengshui and I-Ching.

    This is one of the most famous OPA (Out of Place Artifact) in China history.
    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      It was no ordinary turtle. It is called a dragon turtle which is huge in size with a dragon head: http://www.kunde.org.tw/image3/01-book-032.jpg [kunde.org.tw]

      Legend said that it carried strange messages on its shell. The messages looked simple (as you can see in the picture above) but people later found the complex meanings behind them.

      This is one of the most famous OPA (Out of Place Artifact) in China history.

      If it were a mock turtle, would the messages be wrong mockingly?

    • It was no ordinary turtle. It is called a dragon turtle which is huge in size with a dragon head

      Well there's a fat bald guy riding this one [kateysgarden.com], so I can't read what its shell says. Damn it, there's always a fat guy in the way.

  • I went to the site to find out what geomagic squares are, but by the time I reached the end of the summary I completely lost interest.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I went to the site to find out what geomagic squares are, but by the time I reached the end of the summary I completely lost interest.

      Oh no, not his writing style. Fucking idiot - look at his gallery, its actually very clever and not everyone can afford a writing staff to get past the crap filter on morons like you (which I assume is a self-feeding mechanism, as you keep getting spoon fed BS by such filters throughout your life you will only ever know such). Swearing for your benefit in hopes to publicly degrade you while making you stop reading at the first line.

      • Improving slashdot, step one: disable anonymous comments.
      • by 2.7182 (819680)
        I read the whole article and found it entirely not terribly original or interesting. Sure, maybe you can make a code from it. I can generate tons of weird combinatorial/geometric widgets that do the same thing.
    • by wrencherd (865833)
      And yet his explanation is still a lot more understandable than TFA.
  • Sounds suspicious. Oh I bet it's 'perfectly safe', but you start out on math and who knows where you'll end up? Smoking crack out of rolled up nonstandard analysis theorems in a gutter in cambridge? It's a gateway drug, I tell ya.

    • Recreational Mathematics is a form of masochism. It's no different then those guys that whip their own backs or who go to those clubs where everyone wears black leather. It's sick and twisted, but there's nothing we can do about it, since they're technically only hurting themselves.
      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        Yep. On the other hand, programming for fun is a lot more sane.
        • LOL, thank you! I do the occasional diffy Q just to relax, as well as code 'for fun' (well, I don't get paid anyway).

          (Well, I also do diffy Qs keep up skills so I can make sure I stay ahead of my kids, who apparently aren't overly fond of mathematics. If you don't use it, ya LOSE it :D )

  • Check it out on page 5 of the New Scientist link [newscientist.com]. Apparently, they think 8 is an odd number, and 9 and 11 are not. So much for the "new math."

    • Also on that page: 1 + 3 + 5 + ... + 15 + 17 = 3.3^3
      wtf?
      if I do 1+3+5+7+9+11+13+15+17 I get 81 which is 3^4

      • By 3.3^3, they mean 3 x 3^3, not (3.3)^3. It's an unfortunate use of the period symbol to denote multiplication because standard keyboards do not have the centered dot symbol.

        • by tkprit (8581)

          &#183 (and I think even &middot) has worked fine in HTML for years (albeit not on /. for some reason). I use parentheses, dots, and carets myself, (or enter it in http://www.wolframalpha.com/ [wolframalpha.com] and copy the pretty mathematically-correct image), but I'm not New Scientist.

      • Yes, but they want to express it as 3.3^3 to bring out the relationship with a 3.3 shape (ie, a square). (You are reading "3.3" as "3 multiplied by 3", aren't you?)
        • I read it as "three and three tenths," didn't know there was another way to read that. Thanks for the tip.

    • by techbeat (714650)
      Thanks very much for pointing this out. I edited the story for New Scientist and it's fixed now.
  • So he hasn't found the Time Cube yet...

  • I think this guy's work can be abstracted even further.

    I'm no mathematician, but I see no reason to stop at geometric shapes. It seems to me that any arbitrary set T with an addition operator defined over it has the potential to be a space in which magic squares can be found. In the case of this guy's work, that set happens to be the set of n-dimensional geometric shapes with the addition operator defined as a geometric union. In traditional magic squares, that set is simply {x : 0 x 10}.
    • Arrrg! Ahem, { x : 0 < x < 10 }
    • by Natlaw (626413)
      He does give that in the more formal definition in the appendix: http://www.geomagicsquares.com/appendix.php [geomagicsquares.com]
      • Thanks, totally missed that. This is great, and I would actually be interested to see it generalized over n-dimensional "magic" structures (i.e. magic hybercubes). At some point it feels like mental masturbation, but interesting no less.
  • What the hell? I RTFA and have no idea what this is about. What is a polymino? Guess what? I still think it's a horse.
  • Not much excitement in this thread.

    Last week I spent nearly a full day on Knuth's Dancing Links algorithm in relation to a combinatorial problem in coding theory (it's not a strong fit, but I thought there might be a stray intuition).

    This little divertimento lead me to discover some clever tricks in how to set up the Dancing Links matrix for a certain class of problems to avoid traversing symmetric solutions. Considering the apathy level on this story, it would be a waste of breath to spell it out here.

    It'

    • by lennier (44736)

      the 24 palladium quasi-crystals oscillation nodes.

      Anyone? It's the key to pentalobular Arc reactor containment, for anyone with a giant pile of mil-scrap.

      Tony Stark, is that you?

It's a poor workman who blames his tools.

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