At Woodrow Wilson High School's annual Pride Day celebration, Principal Peter Cahall decided to let his staff and students in on a secret he'd been keeping for a long time.
This article originally appeared on 07.10.21
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.
"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.
Babylonian tablet Plimpton 322 will make studying maths easier, mathematician says http://ab.co/2vuEzuL\u00a0 | @abcnewspic.twitter.com/U10wQ7ZA42— ABC Australia (@ABC Australia) 1503644411
"With Plimpton 322 we see a simpler, more accurate trig. (with) clear advantages over our own."\n@n_wildberger: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/aug/24/mathematical-secrets-of-ancient-tablet-unlocked-after-nearly-a-century-of-study\u00a0\u2026\n#TOK— Roo Stenning (@Roo Stenning) 1503658186
Of course, there were the haters...
Find someone who loves you as much as this guy dislikes a hypothesis about Babylonian math: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/08/ancient-babylonian-tablet-may-contain-first-evidence-trigonometry\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/c5yO8LmjhE— Miles Brundage (@Miles Brundage) 1503605001
But all in all, Twitter users were pretty impressed with the Babylonians' skills.
And we're over here trying to figure out how to do trig with our TI-83s... man I love it when the ancients show what real intelligence is.— Kenny Hayse (@Kenny Hayse) 1503633184
Congratulations to Dr. Mansfield and his team on their incredible discovery... and for making trigonometry exciting!
Let’s put the 'thanks' back in Thanksgiving.
We celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States. The big focus on that day is the massive feast, football and maybe a little talk about pilgrims and Native Americans breaking bread together.
But, aside from a possible prayer at dinner, are many people focusing on the most essential part of the holiday: being thankful?
Amy Latta, a mother and craft expert, noticed the disconnect between the holiday and its meaning in 2012 so she created a new family tradition, the Thankful Pumpkin. The idea came to her after she went to a pumpkin patch with her son, Noah, who was 3 at the time.
“We need to stop and focus and be intentional about counting our blessings. To help do that in our family, we started the tradition of the Thankful Pumpkin,” she wrote on her blog. “All you need to make one is a pumpkin and a permanent marker and a heart full of gratitude.”
In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, Amy and her family sit down and make a list of things they’re thankful for and write them on a pumpkin in permanent marker.
By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, the pumpkin is filled with thankfulness. Then, on the big day, it makes a great centerpiece that keeps the reason for the holiday in focus for the whole family.
"I was excited to get the project out there because it is so simple and requires no special skills or materials," Latta told Today Parents. "Anyone can do it, and I was excited to think about other families taking time to focus on gratitude."
In the 10 years since Latta came up with the idea, the Thankful Pumpkin has caught on around the country and people have been sending her photos of how their families celebrate the new tradition. “I’ve seen hundreds of photos of families, clubs, community centers, churches, and shops adopting this tradition, inviting folks to add their blessings to a pumpkin, a visual reminder of all the reasons we have to be grateful,” Latta wrote in an Instagram post.
\u201cTake a \ud83d\udc40 at this beauty! The #ThankfulPumpkin \ud83c\udf83 turned out amazing! Thank you to everyone who participated & we hope this reminded ourselves all that we have to be #thankful for! Now who can whip this into a \ud83c\udf83 \ud83e\udd67? #JATS #Tradition #blessed #JFL #Reminders #BeThankful\u201d— Jaguar Athletic Training (@Jaguar Athletic Training) 1635772385
\u201cThe #thankfulpumpkin is our answer to 2020. They love telling me what they\u2019re grateful for each morning & get a kick out of writing it on their pumpkin. This is how we nourish grateful hearts.\ud83e\udde1\u201d— Keisha Grant (@Keisha Grant) 1605285922
Latta was really onto something when she decided to put the “thanks” back in Thanksgiving. Further, learning how to practice gratitude is one of the most important keys to happiness, so it’s wonderful that she's given us all a new way to practice it with our families.
Amy E. Keller, Psy D., says that practicing gratitude is wonderful for our psychological well-being.
"Experiencing gratitude activates neurotransmitters like dopamine, which we associate with pleasure, and serotonin, which regulates our mood," she told Verywell Mind. "It also causes the brain to release oxytocin, a hormone which induces feelings like trust and generosity which promotes social bonding, and feeling connected."
A decade after her little idea has caught on, Latta is grateful for the incredible response.
“I never imagined the little idea I had in my kitchen that day would encourage gratitude far beyond our four walls, and each year as I see it shared, I am humbled all over again to think that maybe it has impacted you too,” she wrote on Instagram. “Let’s be grateful together as we head into the holiday season. I’m so glad you’re here.”
This article originally appeared on 09.08.16
Every night around 5:30 p.m., she stood up and told the staff at her Ohio nursing home that she needed to leave. When they asked why, she said she needed to go home to take care of her mother. Her mom, of course, had long since passed away.
Behavior like Norma's is quite common for older folks suffering from Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. Walter, another man in the same assisted living facility, demanded breakfast from the staff every night around 7:30.
Jean Makesh, CEO of Lantern assisted living facilities, says he meets folks with stories like these every day. It's their stories that inspired him to make some changes at Lantern.
"I thought I knew a lot about elderly care. The more and more time I was spending with my clients, that's when I realized, 'Oh my god, I have no clue.'"
A big believer in the idea that our environment has an enormous effect on us, he started thinking big — and way outside the box.
"What if we design an environment that looks like outside?" he said. "What if I can have a sunrise and sunset inside the building? What if I'm able to have the moon and stars come out? What if I build a unit that takes residents back to the '30s and '40s?"
And that was just the beginning. He also researched sound therapy. And aromatherapy. And carpet that looked like grass. No idea was off-limits.
What he came up with was a truly unique memory-care facility. And after testing the concept in Lantern's Madison, Ohio, facility, Makesh is opening two new locations this year.
All photos courtesy of Lantern
Some studies have shown that this kind of aromatherapy may indeed have some merits for improving cognitive functioning in Alzheimer's patients.
There's even a little "main street" where residents can gather.
The insides of the rooms aren't too shabby, either.
Makesh said one of the frustrating shortcomings of most nursing facilities is that they create conflicts with unnatural environments and schedules, and they try to solve them by throwing antipsychotic and anti-anxiety medications at patients. In other words, when someone has severe dementia, we often give up on them. From there, they stop getting the engagement their brain needs to thrive.
But Makesh's project shows that when we think strategically about altering the environment and focus on helping people relearn essential self-care and hygiene skills, the near-impossible becomes possible.
"In five years, we're going to [be able to] rehabilitate our clients where they can live independently in our environment," he said. "In 10 years, we're going to be able to send them back home."
He knows it's a lofty goal. And whether he'll meet it remains to be seen. But in the meantime, he's proud to own one of the few places that offers something pretty rare in cases of severe dementia: hope.