Education

3,700-year-old Babylonian stone tablet gets translated, changes history

They were doing trigonometry 1500 years before the Greeks.

via UNSW

Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.

Mansfield and his team are, understandably, incredibly proud. What they discovered is that the tablet is actually an ancient trigonometry table.

Mansfield said:

"The huge mystery, until now, was its purpose – why the ancient scribes carried out the complex task of generating and sorting the numbers on the tablet. Our research reveals that Plimpton 322 describes the shapes of right-angle triangles using a novel kind of trigonometry based on ratios, not angles and circles. It is a fascinating mathematical work that demonstrates undoubted genius."

"The tablet not only contains the world's oldest trigonometric table; it is also the only completely accurate trigonometric table, because of the very different Babylonian approach to arithmetic and geometry. This means it has great relevance for our modern world. Babylonian mathematics may have been out of fashion for more than 3,000 years, but it has possible practical applications in surveying, computer graphics and education. This is a rare example of the ancient world teaching us something new."

The tablet predates Greek astronomer Hipparchus, who has long been regarded as the father of trigonometry. Mansfield's colleague, Norman Widberger, added:

"Plimpton 322 predates Hipparchus by more than 1,000 years. It opens up new possibilities not just for modern mathematics research, but also for mathematics education. With Plimpton 322 we see a simpler, more accurate trigonometry that has clear advantages over our own."
"A treasure trove of Babylonian tablets exists, but only a fraction of them have been studied yet. The mathematical world is only waking up to the fact that this ancient but very sophisticated mathematical culture has much to teach us."

People were understandably excited by the news.

Some mathematicians actually think studying the Babylonians back then could help us improve the way we do trigonometry today.

Of course, there were the haters...

But all in all, Twitter users were pretty impressed with the Babylonians' skills.

And they figured it out 3,700 years ahead of me...and counting.— Marty (@Marty) 1503631905

Congratulations to Dr. Mansfield and his team on their incredible discovery... and for making trigonometry exciting!

Planet

Easy (and free!) ways to save the ocean

The ocean is the heart of our planet. It needs our help to be healthy.

Ocean Wise

Volunteers at a local shoreline cleanup

True

The ocean covers over 71% of the Earth’s surface and serves as our planet’s heart. Ocean currents circulate vital heat, moisture, and nutrients around the globe to influence and regulate our climate, similar to the human circulatory system. Cool, right?

Our ocean systems provide us with everything from fresh oxygen to fresh food. We need it to survive and thrive—and when the ocean struggles to function healthfully, the whole world is affected.

Pollution, overfishing, and climate change are the three biggest challenges preventing the ocean from doing its job, and it needs our help now more than ever. Humans created the problem; now humans are responsible for solving it.

#BeOceanWise is a global rallying cry to do what you can for the ocean, because we need the ocean and the ocean needs us. If you’re wondering how—or if—you can make a difference, the answer is a resounding YES. There are a myriad of ways you can help, even if you don’t live near a body of water. For example, you can focus on reducing the amount of plastic you purchase for yourself or your family.

Another easy way to help clean up our oceans is to be aware of what’s known as the “dirty dozen.” Every year, scientists release an updated list of the most-found litter scattered along shorelines. The biggest culprit? Single-use beverage and food items such as foam cups, straws, bottle caps, and cigarette butts. If you can’t cut single-use plastic out of your life completely, we understand. Just make sure to correctly recycle plastic when you are finished using it. A staggering 3 million tons of plastic ends up in our oceans annually. Imagine the difference we could make if everyone recycled!

The 2022 "Dirty Dozen" ListOcean Wise

If you live near a shoreline, help clean it up! Organize or join an effort to take action and make a positive impact in your community alongside your friends, family, or colleagues. You can also tag @oceanwise on social if you spot a beach that needs some love. The location will be added to Ocean Wise’s system so you can submit data on the litter found during future Shoreline Cleanups. This data helps Ocean Wise work with businesses and governments to stop plastic pollution at its source. In Canada, Ocean Wise data helped inform a federal ban on unnecessary single-use plastics. Small but important actions like these greatly help reduce the litter that ends up in our ocean.

Ocean Wise, a conservation organization on a mission to restore and protect our oceans, is focused on empowering and educating everyone from individuals to governments on how to protect our waters. They are making conservation happen through five big initiatives: monitoring and protecting whales, fighting climate change and restoring biodiversity, innovating for a plastic-free ocean, protecting and restoring fish stocks, and finally, educating and empowering youth. The non-profit believes that in order to rebuild a resilient and vibrant ocean within the next ten years, everyone needs to take action.

Become an Ocean Wise ally and share your knowledge with others. The more people who know how badly the ocean needs our help, the better! Now is a great time to commit to being a part of something bigger and get our oceans healthy again.

Health

Artists got fed up with these 'anti-homeless spikes.' So they made them a bit more ... comfy.

"Our moral compass is skewed if we think things like this are acceptable."

Photo courtesy of CC BY-ND, Immo Klink and Marco Godoy

Spikes line the concrete to prevent sleeping.

These are called "anti-homeless spikes." They're about as friendly as they sound.

As you may have guessed, they're intended to deter people who are homeless from sitting or sleeping on that concrete step. And yeah, they're pretty awful.

The spikes are a prime example of how cities design spaces to keep homeless people away.

Not all concrete steps have spikes on them, but outdoor seating in cities like Montreal and Tokyo have been sneakily designed to prevent people from resting too comfortably for too long.

This guy sawing through a bench was part of a 2006 protest in Toulouse, France, where public seating intentionally included armrests to prevent people from lying down.

Of course, these designs do nothing to fight the cause or problem of homelessness. They're just a way of saying to homeless people, "Go somewhere else. We don't want to look at you,"basically.

One particular set of spikes was outside a former night club in London. And a local group got sick of staring at them.

Leah Borromeo is part of the art collective "Space, Not Spikes" — a group that's fed up with what she describes as "hostile architecture."

"Spikes do nothing more than shoo the realities of poverty and inequality away from your backyard — so you don't have to see it or confront what you can do to make things more equal," Borromeo told Upworthy. "And that is really selfish."

"Our moral compass is skewed if we think things like this are acceptable."

A bed covers up spikes on the concrete.

assets.rebelmouse.io

The move by Space, Not Spikes has caused quite a stir in London and around the world. The simple but impactful idea even garnered support from music artist Ellie Goulding.

"That was amazing, wasn't it?" Borromeo said of Goulding's shout-out on Instagram.

Artist's puppy books and home comforts.

assets.rebelmouse.io

"[The project has] definitely touched a nerve and I think it is because, as a whole, humans will still look out for each other," Borromeo told Upworthy. "Capitalism and greed conditions us to look out for ourselves and negate the welfare of others, but ultimately, I think we're actually really kind."

"We need to call out injustice and hypocrisy when we see it."

A message to offer support in contrast with current anti-homeless laws.

assets.rebelmouse.io

These spikes may be in London, but the U.S. definitely has its fair share of anti-homeless sentiment, too.

Spikes are pretty obvious — they're a visual reminder of a problem many cities are trying to ignore. But what we can't see on the street is the rise of anti-homeless laws that have cropped up from sea to shining sea.

Legislation that targets homeless people — like bans on panhandling and prohibiting people from sleeping in cars — has increased significantly in recent years.

For instance, a report by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty that analyzed 187 American cities found that there's been a 43% hike in citywide bans on sitting or lying down in certain spaces since 2011.

Thankfully, groups like "Space, Not Spikes" are out there changing hearts and minds. But they need our help.

The group created a video to complement its work and Borromeo's hoping its positive underlying message will motivate people to do better.

"[The world] won't always be happy-clappy because positive social change needs constructive conflict and debate," she explained. "But we need to call out injustice and hypocrisy when we see it."

Meet the 18-year-old advocating for teen mental health, one inspiring podcast at a time

All images provided by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

Collins after being selected by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

True

A changemaker is anyone who takes creative action to solve an ongoing problem—be it in one’s own community or throughout the world.

And when it comes to creating positive change, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective can hold just as much power as years of experience. That’s why, every year, Prudential Emerging Visionaries celebrates young people for their innovative solutions to financial and societal challenges in their communities.

This national program awards 25 young leaders (ages 14-18) up to \$15,000 to devote to their passion projects. Additionally, winners receive a trip to Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, where they receive coaching, skills development, and networking opportunities with mentors to help take their innovative solutions to the next level.

For 18-year-old Sydnie Collins, one of the 2023 winners, this meant being able to take her podcast, “Perfect Timing,” to the next level.

Since 2020, the Maryland-based teen has provided a safe platform that promotes youth positivity by giving young people the space to celebrate their achievements and combat mental health stigmas. The idea came during the height of Covid-19, when Collins recalled social media “becoming a dark space flooded with news,” which greatly affected her own anxiety and depression.

Knowing that she couldn’t be the only one feeling this way, “Perfect Timing” seemed like a valuable way to give back to her community. Over the course of 109 episodes, Collins has interviewed a wide range of guests—from other young influencers to celebrities, from innovators to nonprofit leaders—all to remind Gen Z that “their dreams are tangible.”

That mission statement has since evolved beyond creating inspiring content and has expanded to hosting events and speaking publicly at summits and workshops. One of Collins’ favorite moments so far has been raising \$7,000 to take 200 underserved girls to see “The Little Mermaid” on its opening weekend, to “let them know they are enough” and that there’s an “older sister” in their corner.

Of course, as with most new projects, funding for “Perfect Timing” has come entirely out of Collins’ pocket. Thankfully, the funding she earned from being selected as a Prudential Emerging Visionary is going toward upgraded recording equipment, the support of expert producers, and skill-building classes to help her become a better host and public speaker. She’ll even be able to lease an office space that allows for a live audience.

Plus, after meeting with the 24 other Prudential Emerging Visionaries and her Prudential employee coach, who is helping her develop specific action steps to connect with her target audience, Collins has more confidence in a “grander path” for her work.

“I learned that my network could extend to multiple spaces beyond my realm of podcasting and journalism when industry leaders are willing to share their expertise, time, and financial support,” she told Upworthy. “It only takes one person to change, and two people to expand that change.”

Prudential Emerging Visionaries is currently seeking applicants for 2024. Winners may receive up to \$15,000 in awards and an all-expenses-paid trip to Prudential’s headquarters with a parent or guardian, as well as ongoing coaching and skills development to grow their projects.

If you or someone you know between the ages of 14 -18 not only displays a bold vision for the future but is taking action to bring that vision to life, click here to learn more. Applications are due by Nov. 2, 2023.
Pop Culture

Dad challenges his Gen Z daughter to figure out 3 things about a U-haul truck

The look on her face when she sees the manual window.

@davidcsmalley/TikTok

But can she start it?

David C. Smalley, a comedian and podcaster, regularly gives us some generational humor by exposing his 19-year-old daughter Talissa to relics of the past. You know, things like CDs, phonebooks, remote controllers…feeling old yet?

Recently, Smalley challenged Talissa with navigating a standard U-Haul storage truck. She had to 1) unlock the door 2) roll down a window and 3) start the engine.

For those of us who grew up before the 90s, this might sound like the easiest challenge ever. But apparently, for Gen Z, it’s like being asked to maneuver a horse and buggy.

Despite growing up in a key fob generation, where simply pressing a button on a tiny remote controller could magically open doors, Talissa aced unlocking the door with a key.

Next, she was understandably baffled over the amount of physical labor required to simply roll down a window.

“Are you serious? They haven’t updated that?!” she exclaimed while doing the tedious hand-cranking move we all know so well. “Are you kidding me?! I would not do this every time.”

She definitely had a point on this one. Electronic windows have been the standard for decades. Is U-Haul just sentimental or what?

Having checked off two of the three tasks, Talissa then had to start the car—which proved to be the biggest challenge of all.

Looking on the center console, where she’s used to seeing the ignition button, Talissa found the airbag and radio (two foreign objects in their own right) but no way to start the car.

Finally…success! Talissa found the ignition hiding behind the steering wheel.

“I’m not going to make it explode, am I?” she joked as she turned the key and celebrated her victory.

Watch below. Hearing Talissa ask if the radio is a “fidget game” is entertainment in itself.

@davidcsmalley #daughterissues #daughterpod ♬ original sound - David C. Smalley

It’s always fun to see the ways in which different generations navigate the world through fashion, slang, entertainment, dating, food, the list goes on. But technology, which continues to evolve at a rapid rate, always feels like the biggest culture shock.

And unlike bell bottoms, outdated tech rarely makes a comeback. So once the more energy efficient, more convenient appliance becomes mainstream, its predecessor is forever obsolete. Unless of course you count the cool, hipster folks hanging onto vinyl for the superior sound quality.

Speaking of vinyl, Talissa was also previously challenged by Smalley to work a record player, to equal hilarity:

@davidcsmalley #daughterissues #daughterpod #genz #genx #recordplayers #vinyl #talissa ♬ original sound - David C. Smalley

Somehow, seeing how far we’ve come through the look of bafflement from the young ones is the only thing that never gets old.

Enjoy more fun interactions from Smalley and Talissa on TikTok.

Pets

Family brings home the wrong dog from daycare until their cats saved the day

A quick trip to the vet confirmed the cats' and family's suspicions.

Family accidentally brings wrong dog home but their cats knew

It's not a secret that nearly all golden retrievers are identical. Honestly, magic has to be involved for owners to know which one belongs to them when more than one golden retriever is around. Seriously, how do they all seem have the same face? It's like someone fell asleep on the copy machine when they were being created.

Outside of collars, harnesses and bandanas, immediately identifying the dog that belongs to you has to be a secret skill because at first glance, their personalities are also super similar. That's why it's not surprising when one family dropped off their sweet golden pooch at daycare and to be groomed, they didn't notice the daycare sent out the wrong dog.

See, not even their human parents can tell them apart because when the swapped dog got home, nothing seemed odd to the owners at first. She was freshly groomed so any small differences were quickly brushed off. But this accidental doppelgänger wasn't fooling her feline siblings.

Once the dog was in their house, they noticed that their cats started behaving strangely towards their canine sibling. The cats started attacking the dog, likely trying to get it to tell them what they did with their real dog sister. Cat slaps and a house full of strange people didn't dampen the imposter's spirit though, in fact, that's what helped reveal the switcharoo.

This dog kept handing out face kisses and had no interest in seeing her favorite neighbor. After putting all of those things together, the owners decided to hightail it to the vet's office to scan the dog's microchip. Alas, they indeed had the wrong dog.

"We just never even thought that that would happen, and of course we thought we would know right? Like we're her parents, we would know something was wrong, we would know right off the bat that it wasn't Emmy," Kebby Kelley told Fox 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Seems both golden retrievers got to go on a really strange adventure that deserves a lifetime of delicious dog treats for the confusion.

See both sweet pups below:

Joy

A 10-panel comic explores a subtle kind of racism many people of color experience.

Not all questions are harmless.

Image from Facebook of Alexandra Dal.

People of color experience many types of subtle racism.

If we're being honest, we all make assumptions about other people, right?

We look at their skin, their clothes, and their car, and we make guesses about them that we don't even realize we're making. Everyone does it.

You ask a pregnant female coworker if she'll keep working after the baby is born — but you wouldn't think to ask that question of a guy who was about to become a dad.

You ask that nice girl behind the counter at the bagel shop whether she'll ever go to college so she can get a better job — only to learn that she's an underemployed Ph.D.

You ask a hipster-looking guy on the subway whether he's into artisanal pickles — but he just happens to be a bad dresser who has no idea what you're talking about.

The fact is, though, that people of color deal with other people's assumptions constantly.

Research shows that other people's expectations can have a profound effect on us. They can determine our success or failure. And black women deal with this nonsense more than others. In a recent study, nearly half of the female black and Latina scientists polled reported being mistaken for janitors or administrative staff.

Let's agree to fix this.

A comic created by Alexandra Dal on racial expectations.

Image from Facebook of Alexandra Dal.

This story originally appeared on December 15, 2015

Health

27-year-old who died of cancer left behind final advice that left the internet in tears

"Don't feel pressured to do what other people might think is a fulfilling life. You might want a mediocre life and that is so OK."

Photo courtesy of Remembering Holly Butcher/Facebook used with permission.

Holly Butcher left behind her best life advice before she passed away at 27.

The world said goodbye to Holly Butcher, a 27-year-old woman from Grafton, Australia.

Butcher had been battling Ewing's sarcoma, a rare bone cancer that predominantly affects young people. In a statement posted on Butcher's memorialized Facebook account, her brother, Dean, and partner, Luke, confirmed the heartbreaking news to friends.

"It is with great sadness that we announce Holly's passing in the early hours of this morning," they wrote on Jan. 4, 2018. "After enduring so much, it was finally time for her to say goodbye to us all. The end was short and peaceful; she looked serene when we kissed her forehead and said our final farewells. As you would expect, Holly prepared a short message for you all, which will be posted above."

Butcher's message, which Dean and Luke did, in fact, post publicly shortly thereafter, has brought the internet to tears.

We believe her powerful message — which has amassed an incredible 72,000 Likes and 56,000 shares across the world so far — deserves to be spread far and wide.

Butcher used her final post to reflect on what she's learned in her short but beautiful life, offering some advice to those of us who are willing to listen.

"It's a strange thing to [realize] and accept your mortality at 26 years young," she began. "I always imagined myself growing old, wrinkled and gray — most likely caused by the beautiful family (lots of kiddies) I planned on building with the love of my life. I want that so bad it hurts. That's the thing about life; It is fragile, precious and unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a given right."

Butcher's poignant post is definitely worth reading in full. But here are 16 especially powerful points:

1. "I just want people to stop worrying so much about the small, meaningless stresses in life and try to remember that we all have the same fate after it all, so do what you can to make your time feel worthy and great, minus the bullshit. ... Those times you are [whining] about ridiculous things (something I have noticed so much these past few months), just think about someone who is really facing a problem. Be grateful for your minor issue and get over it. It's OK to acknowledge that something is annoying but try not to carry on about it and negatively affect other people's days."

2. "Once you do that, get out there and take a freaking big breath of that fresh Aussie air deep in your lungs, look at how blue the sky is and how green the trees are; It is so beautiful. Think how lucky you are to be able to do just that — breathe. You might have got caught in bad traffic today, or had a bad sleep because your beautiful babies kept you awake, or your hairdresser cut your hair too short. ... I swear you will not be thinking of those things when it is your turn to go. It is all SO insignificant when you look at life as a whole. I'm watching my body waste away right before my eyes with nothing I can do about it and all I wish for now is that I could have just one more birthday or Christmas with my family, or just one more day with my partner and dog. Just one more."

Holly Butcher shares a big smile for the camera.

Photo courtesy of Remembering Holly Butcher/Facebook used with permission.

3. "I hear people complaining about how terrible work is or about how hard it is to exercise — be grateful you are physically able to. Work and exercise may seem like such trivial things…until your body doesn't allow you to do either of them… Appreciate your good health and functioning body — even if it isn't your ideal size. Look after it and embrace how amazing it is."

4. "Give, give, give. It is true that you gain more happiness doing things for others than doing them for yourself. I wish I did this more. Since I have been sick, I have met the most incredibly giving and kind people and been the receiver of the most thoughtful and loving words and support from my family, friends and strangers; more than I could ever give in return. I will never forget this and will be forever grateful to all of these people."

5. "This year, our family agreed to do no presents and despite the tree looking rather sad and empty (I nearly cracked Christmas Eve!), it was so nice because people didn't have the pressure of shopping and the effort went into writing a nice card for each other. Plus, imagine my family trying to buy me a present knowing they would probably end up with it themselves ... strange! ... but those cards mean more to me than any impulse purchase could. ... Anyway, moral of the story — presents are not needed for a meaningful Christmas."

6. "Use your money on experiences ... or at least don't miss out on experiences because you spent all your money on material shit. Put in the effort to do that day trip to the beach you keep putting off. Dip your feet in the water and dig your toes in the sand. Wet your face with salt water."

7. "Try just enjoying and being in moments rather than capturing them through the screen of your phone. Life isn't meant to be lived through a screen nor is it about getting the perfect photo."

"Try just enjoying and being in moments rather than capturing them..." Holly Butcher.

Photo courtesy of Remembering Holly Butcher/Facebook used with permission.

8. "Listen to music ... really listen. Music is therapy."

9. "Cuddle your dog. Far out, I will miss that."

10. "Talk to your friends. Put down your phone. Are they doing OK?"

11. "Travel if it's your desire, don't if it's not."

12. "Work to live, don't live to work."

13. "Seriously, do what makes your heart feel happy."

14. "Don't feel pressured to do what other people might think is a fulfilling life. You might want a mediocre life and that is so OK."

15. "Tell your loved ones you love them every time you get the chance and love them with everything you have."

16. "Oh and one last thing. If you can, do a good deed for humanity (and myself) and start regularly donating blood. It will make you feel good with the added bonus of saving lives. Blood donation (more bags than I could keep up with counting) helped keep me alive for an extra year — a year I will be forever grateful that I got to spend here on Earth with my family, friends and dog. A year I had some of the greatest times of my life."

Butcher may be gone, but her impact will live on in the hearts and minds of people around the world.

"Never [met] her, but I am very touched and in tears," one Facebook user commented. "Such a bright light for a seemingly dark world at times," another chimed in. "Beautiful."

"What a wise soul she is," someone concluded. "I'm off to donate my blood."

Rest in peace, Holly. You made this world a better place. ❤️

If you are in the U.S. and inspired by Butcher's message, consider finding a blood donation center near you. You could save a life.

Health

Woman uses photo of her dog to perfectly shut down the myth that rape is a woman's fault

"If a 4-year-old pit bull understands…"

This is Briana "Bree" Wiseman, a pastry chef and restaurant manager from Tennessee.

scontent-lax3-2.xx.fbcdn.net

The 22-year-old shared a photo of her dog on Facebook next to a plate of food and it went viral — but not just because her dog is really, really cute. In the caption, Wiseman made a powerful statement about sexual assault, using her dog, and the plate of food, as a metaphor.

To the people that say women get raped due to the way they are dressed. This is my dog. His favorite food is steak. He...
Posted by Bree Wiseman on Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wiseman wrote:

To the people that say women get raped due to the way they are dressed. This is my dog. His favorite food is steak. He is eye level with my plate. He won't get any closer because I told him no. If a dog is better behaved than you are, you need to reevaluate your life. Feel free to share, my dog is adorable.

So far, over 325,000 people have shared the post. And thousands have left comments, most of them in full support of both the message, and the dog.

Wiseman told the Huffington Post she decided to share the post to take a stand against victim-blaming, in part because of her own experiences with sexual assault. She said:

The only person to blame in a rape offense is the rapist. It was their decision to rape. People shouldn't have to worry about what they chose to wear for fear of rape. I want people to see that this is a problem, and to stand together against victim-shaming.

She continued:

If a 4-year-old pit bull understands the word no,' even though he is looking at something he wants so bad he is literally drooling, then adults should understand 'no,' no matter how the other adult is dressed... How is it that a simple-minded animal has the ability to understand better than a large part of the adult population?

Good question. Although we already knew dogs are better than people. That being said, kudos to Wiseman for speaking up, and to her dog, for being such a good boy.