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!

Education

## A school assignment asked for 3 benefits of slavery. This kid gave the only good answer.

### The school assignment was intended to spark debate and discussion — but isn't that part of the problem?

A school assignment asked for 3 "good" reasons for slavery.

It's not uncommon for parents to puzzle over their kids' homework.

Sometimes, it's just been too long since they've done long division for them to be of any help. Or teaching methods have just changed too dramatically since they were in school.

And other times, kids bring home something truly inexplicable.

## Trameka Brown-Berry was looking over her 4th-grade son Jerome's homework when her jaw hit the floor.

"Give 3 'good' reasons for slavery and 3 bad reasons," the prompt began.

You read that right. Good reasons ... FOR SLAVERY.

Lest anyone think there's no way a school would actually give an assignment like this, Brown-Berry posted photo proof to Facebook.

In the section reserved for "good reasons," (again, for slavery), Jerome wrote, "I feel there is no good reason for slavery thats why I did not write."

## The shockingly offensive assignment deserved to be thrown in the trash. But young Jerome dutifully filled it out anyway.

His response was pretty much perfect.

We're a country founded on freedom of speech and debating ideas, which often leads us into situations where "both sides" are represented. But it can only go so far.

There's no meaningful dialogue to be had about the perceived merits of stripping human beings of their basic living rights. No one is required to make an effort to "understand the other side," when the other side is bigoted and hateful.

In a follow-up post, Brown-Berry writes that the school has since apologized for the assignment and committed to offering better diversity and sensitivity training for its teachers.

But what's done is done, and the incident illuminates the remarkable racial inequalities that still exist in our country. After all, Brown-Berry told the Chicago Tribune, "You wouldn't ask someone to list three good reasons for rape or three good reasons for the Holocaust."

At the very end of the assignment, Jerome brought it home with a bang: "I am proud to be black because we are strong and brave ... "

Good for Jerome for shutting down the thoughtless assignment with strength and amazing eloquence.

Family

## Teacher Bret Turner thought he'd kick off the morning with his first-grade students using a little riddle.

On the whiteboard in the front of the class, he scrawled it out in black marker:

"I am the beginning of everything, the end of everywhere. I'm the beginning of eternity, the end of time & space."

One student raised their hand, the first to venture a guess.

Now, the answer, of course, is the letter "E." (Get it!?) But the student had a different idea.

"Death?"

Turner later described the incident on Twitter in a post that's now gone massively viral. "Such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the class that I didn't want to tell them that actually the answer is the letter 'E', which just seemed so banal in the moment," he wrote.

## People on Twitter got a huge kick out of the somewhat dark, existential moment. But there might just be an important lesson buried in this story somewhere about how to process "the end."

Many users who replied to the Tweet were impressed by the unnamed kid's thoughtfulness and ability to understand the concept of death at such a young age. (How many first graders would peg death as "the beginning of eternity?")

But it turns out that kids are much more perceptive than we give them credit for.

An article in National Geographic breaks down the three key truths that children must eventually learn about death. First, that it's irreversible (people who die aren't just on vacation). Second, it makes your body non-functional (people who are dead aren't just asleep). And third, it's universal (everything and everybody dies eventually).

Some studies have shown that kids start to understand the concept as young as 3 years old and gradually learn to accept the many layers of it in the years that follow.

## It takes time for anyone to fully grasp the gravity and foreverness of death. But we ought to learn to appreciate the whimsical, partial understanding that young children have.

Some Twitter users who read Turner's account of the riddle accused the student in question of having a morbid personality or an unusual fascination with the macabre. After all, few adults would be brave enough to blurt out something so dark.

It's a lot more likely the kid just hasn't been conditioned to fear death yet, to speak about it in hushed tones — if at all. This might be the same kind of kid who finds out his grandma has died and says, casually, "Oh, OK. Bye, grandma! See you soon!"

When you think about it, that's actually a pretty sweet and remarkably peaceful way of thinking about death. So let's stop rushing kids into having adult-sized worries about the world and let them discover it at their own pace.

As long as it gives us funny moments like this one, anyway.

Pop Culture

## Weird viral photo of Adele's face exemplifies the phenomenon called the Thatcher effect

### The 42-year-old optical illusion is still astounding people.

Prepare to get Thatcherized.

It seems that Adele is going viral once again.

Perhaps you’ve seen the image in question previously (it seems to make the rounds every couple of years). But in case you missed it—it’s Adele’s face. Normal, just upside down.

Only it’s not normal. In fact, when you turn Adele’s face right side up, what you notice is that her eyes and mouth were actually right-side up THE ENTIRE TIME, even though the entire head was upside down. So when you turn the head right side up, the eyes and mouth are now UPSIDE-DOWN—and you can’t unsee it. Do you feel like you're Alice in Wonderland yet?

Just wait. Things get even more fascinating. Especially because this optical illusion is over 40 years in the making.

Below you’ll find the Adele photo in question. Go ahead. Take a look at it. Then turn the image upside down.

Can't. Unsee.

scontent-lax3-2.xx.fbcdn.net

Crazy right? And just a little terrifying?

As the Facebook post explains, this mind-boggling image highlights a phenomenon known as the Thatcher effect. Our brains, so much more used to recognizing faces that are right-side up, have difficulty detecting specific changes once a face is upside down.

Seeing that everything is more or less where it should be, our brains don’t notice anything out of the ordinary in Adele’s face until we turn her face back to a normal position.

The Thatcher effect got its name from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, on whose photograph it was first demonstrated back in 1980 by Peter Thompson, Professor of Psychology at York University.

This demonstration was one of the first to explore just how facial recognition works, and certainly the first to suggest that humans (and monkeys, it turns out) process faces on a more holistic level, rather than by individual components like lips and eyes. Since its publication, there has been a wealth of research exploring how our brain takes in both subtle and striking facial configurations.

Funny enough, it was once believed that this illusion only worked on the Prime Minister’s face. But as Adele has proven, anyone can be Thatcherized.

Parenting

## Teenage girl shamed for her ‘distracting’ outfit fights back in a very funny way

### “[Because] she has a figure she was told she had to change.”

A clever message written on her T-shirt.

A Lawton, Oklahoma, student who goes by the Facebook user name Rose Lynn had the last laugh after being sent home from school for wearing an outfit deemed "distracting." Rose Lynn believes her outfit attracted the attention of school officials because of her figure.

She proved it by posting a photo on Facebook of her modest outfit, which consisted of black leggings, a t-shirt, long cardigan, and boots. In her post, she wrote that she was sent home "because I'm developed farther than the average girl my age," and because she's a "CURVY woman." Rose Lynn also thinks the appropriate response shouldn't have been to tell her to cover up, but to teach boys to "to respect the boundaries of young ladies."

Her father, Lance Miles, agrees with her. "If she was built like a board or as round as a ball she wouldn't have been sent home but [since] she has a figure she was told she had to change," he said in the comments of her Facebook post.

"This is 100 percent on [Lawton Public Schools] because they have left the rule up to interpretation. She has been taught that if you believe in something, do what you must and be prepared for the consequences. She has done that," he continued.

Rose Lynn's post:

"So today I was sent home from class, after being in school for two hours, for my outfit. Because I'm developed farther than the average girl my age, I am required to go home and change... Because I look like a CURVY woman and may distract young boys, I have to miss class and change my outfit.

So once again, society has failed to advocate young ladies, by confining them in a box, where they are stripped from their sense of self respect and self expression, rather than teaching young men to respect the boundaries of young ladies. My response: #Feminism #YoullDistractTheBoys #SocietyIsFailing"

The before and after images for following a dress code.

On the day Rose Lynn was sent home, she was due to take a 20-minute algebra exam. She asked school officials if she could take the test before changing her outfit, but her request was denied. So the next day, she got her revenge.

Rose Lynn returned to school wearing an oversize t-shirt. On the front she scribbled a quote from school officials in black Sharpie, "It doesn't cover your crotch"; on the back, "You'll distract the boys." That day, Rose Lynn was called to the office and sent home again. This time it wasn't for her outfit but for not wearing her student I.D., which she had left in the classroom after being called to the office.

Science

## She tattooed half her face and you'd never know it. Her skills are just that good.

### This incredible medical tattoo technology is giving renewed hope to burn victims.

Basma Hameed runs a tattoo shop, of sorts...

## Meet Samira Omar.

The 17-year-old was the victim of a horrific bullying incident.

A group of girls threw boiling water on her, leaving her badly burned and covered in scars and discoloration.

17-year-old Samira Omar

She thought the physical scars would be with her forever — until she met Basma Hameed. Basma Hameed runs a tattoo shop, of sorts — but her tattoo artistry doesn't look like you'd expect. Basma is a paramedical tattoo specialist. Instead of tattooing vibrant, colorful designs, she uses special pigments that match the skin in order to conceal scars.

It looks like this:

Basma looking at Samira’s facial scarring.

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Basma talking over the procedure.

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Visible scars and discoloration of the skin.

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Tattooing the visible scarring on her hand

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With Basma's help, patients like Samira can see a dramatic decrease in their scar visibility and discoloration after a few treatments. She even offers free procedures for patients who are unable to afford treatment. That's because Basma knows firsthand just how life-changing her work can be for those coping with painful scars left behind.

Check out the video below to find out more about Basma's practice, including how she became her very first patient.

Pop Culture

## Merriam-Webster announced the 2023 'Word of the Year,’ and it says a lot about today’s world

### Plus, some other terms that made 2023 a historic year.

Taylor Swift at 2022 Toronto International Film Festival Red Carpet Day 2.

The wordsmiths over at Merriam-Webster have announced their official “Word of the Year for 2023,” they say it’s something we are “thinking about, writing about, aspiring to, and judging more” than ever.

The word is authentic.

According to the dictionary, the most common definitions of authentic are “not false or imitation,” “being true to one's own personality, spirit, or character,” and “worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact.”

Merriam-Webster says the word saw a “substantial increase” in lookups this year. That’s probably because we now live in a world where artificial intelligence, deepfake technology and questionable memes challenge our basic notions of reality.

Authenticity is also seen as a commodity at a time when influencers build their brands on social media while attempting to seamlessly pitch their "favorite" products. These days, the average person scrolls through over 43 feet of content every day on social media. After being exposed to countless images of people, it becomes easier to spot the phonies from those who are being their authentic selves.

“When we look at common threads across the thousands of influencer marketing campaigns we’ve run at The Outloud Group over the last 15 years, the similarity between all of our best-performing brand creator partnerships is pretty simple: true authenticity,” Bradley Hoos, CEO of The Outland Group, a full-service influencer marketing agency, writes in Forbes.

Merriam-Webster adds that authenticity is a trait people strove to find for themselves in 2023.

“Celebrities like singers Lainey Wilson, Sam Smith, and especially Taylor Swift all made headlines in 2023 with statements about seeking their ‘authentic voice’ and ‘authentic self,” Merriam-Webster writes. “Headlines like Three Ways To Tap Into Taylor Swift’s Authenticity And Build An Eras-Like Workplace associate this quality with pop-culture superpower.”

The dictionary also highlighted more words that trended in 2023, including:

“Rizz” — Internet slang for "romantic appeal or charm" (noun) or "to charm, seduce" (verb), popularized by YouTuber Kai Cenat, was added to the dictionary.

“Deepfake” — Altered images or recordings that convincingly misrepresent someone's actions or words, making it hard to distinguish between real and fake.

“Coronation” — The crowning of a new British monarch, King Charles III, sent people to the dictionary’s website to learn the term's meaning.

“Dystopian” — In 2023, “dystopian” was a verb applied to many frightening real-world issues and was used to describe the trend in video games, books and movies depicting a dark future.

“EGOT” — Lookups for “EGOT” spiked in February when Viola Davis won a Grammy for the audiobook version of her memoir. That made her one of the 18 people to become an EGOT, or winner of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.

“X” — When Twitter was rebranded as X on July 23, searches for the term spiked at Merriam-Webster.com, where curious people went to discover more about the mysterious letter.

“Implode” — When a submersible that went to visit the remains of the Titanic in June imploded, the term had a considerable spike as people attempted to learn more about the passengers’ fate.

“Doppelgänger” — This term got hot multiple times in 2023. It trended twice due to stories out of Germany and New York involving the attempted murder or suicide of someone’s lookalike. Further, September saw the release of Naomi Klein’s book, “Doppelgänger: A Trip Into the Mirror World.”