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Relating Carmina Burana with Fractals in one step

By Hakkikt in MLP
Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 11:40:57 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

This is an article about a 13th century Benedictine monk named Udo of Aaschen, who worked on probability theory, Mandelbrot sets, and some "lesser" poetry known today as "Carmina Burana" (the "O Fortuna" verses).

His existence was noted when a mathematician noted a weird depiction of the Bethlehem star in the Aaschen cathedral that like a Mandelbrot set. (Mandelbrot sets have been drawn with computers since 1976).


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Relating Carmina Burana with Fractals in one step | 25 comments (11 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
Wow. (2.00 / 3) (#5)
by aphrael on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 06:41:50 PM EST

That is, quite simply, the most amazing thing i've seen in a long time.

I wonder what else is buried in monastic manuscripts that we don't know about?

No. Way. (3.33 / 6) (#14)
by DesiredUsername on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 08:51:54 PM EST

First thought: "That's outrageous, but just within the realm of possibility. Those ancient monk guys had nothing better to do than sit around and calculate stuff. Given that Mandelbrot himself started with hand calculations it wasn't totally out of the question."

Then I got about halfway through and realized it's a hoax.

1) Creating the Mandelbrot set requires using complex number--which don't add and subtract like regular numbers. So he had to reinvent that.

2) Complex numbers consist of a "real" part and an "imaginary" part (an imaginary number is any multiple of i, the square root of -1). I'll give the story the benefit of the doubt and say he invented complex numbers without first inventing imaginary numbers, though.

3) Then this complex number has to be plotted on the "complex plane" which is essentially the cartesian plane with relabeled axes. The cartesian plane was invented by Rene Descartes (1596-1650). So this guy had to pre-invent all of that stuff as well.

I repeat: No. Way.

Play 囲碁
OTOH . . . (none / 0) (#20)
by hardburn on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 09:39:13 AM EST

"Imaginary" numbers are something of a kludge in mathematics; they are very artifical and were created only because they're needed to solve certain problems. That being the case, this guy coming up with them doesn't seem so far fetched.

Cartesian planes are also plausable for him to invent, given the other stuff he supposedly made.

Still, some of the other posts give better reasons for why this doesn't hold water. Too bad, too, because I really want it to be true.

while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }

[ Parent ]
I'm going to have to break my rule of... (3.25 / 4) (#15)
by SIGFPE on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 09:02:56 PM EST

...giving MLP a -1 score. This is cultural sabotage at its best - I hope it grows into a full blown urban myth.
My friend did fractals by hand (3.00 / 2) (#16)
by mbrubeck on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 10:36:06 PM EST

My friend Andrew used to render the Mandelbrot set on graph paper with a set of colored pens. He did it to pass time in especially boring math classes. He "cheated" by using a pocket calculator to test convergence, and of course he didn't have to invent any new mathemetical concepts. It still earned him a lot of funny looks.

Ummm.... (3.00 / 3) (#17)
by scriptkiddie on Tue Mar 20, 2001 at 11:07:12 PM EST

a) This is obviously a hoax.

b) It's a really cool hoax.

+1 FP.

It's a hoax. Here are the clues. (4.60 / 10) (#18)
by Pseudonym on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 01:02:02 AM EST

In case anyone doubted that this was a hoax...

  • 13th Century manuscripts never contained the names of copyists, even on the colophon.
  • The name of the book Astragali is an anagram of "gas at liar", a clear reference to the fact that this is a hoax.
  • Udo's helper, Thelonius, is a reference to the legendary jazz pianist Thelonius Monk.
  • The name of the carol O Fröliche Weihnacht just means "Merry Christmas" in German. Even if carols were written in German at the time, that phrase would not have been used.

Oh, yeah, and it's copyright April 1st.

sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
That's not all... (4.00 / 2) (#23)
by The Cunctator on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 11:43:25 PM EST

Udo Mahnke (Mahnke@infopunkt.de) (get it? ha ha) is a Malermeister (master painter) living in Aachen.

I suspect this is a translation of a German hoax, or at least done by someone who knows German, as Schipke is also a pretty common German name.

[ Parent ]

Beautiful joke (4.00 / 4) (#22)
by Keslin on Wed Mar 21, 2001 at 04:52:56 PM EST

This is a perfect example of hoax-as-art. Some practical jokes are just so beautiful that they qualify as artwork in their own right. Conspiracy theories that are obviously just whacko but that are built up using real facts that can be checked out, false rumors about celebrities with rich backgrounds rooted in truth, and this sort of thing. It's so much fun.

It reminds me of the Illuminatus! trilogy, by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. They took all of the whack-ass consipiracy theories that people talked about in letters to Playboy in the 60's and 70's and wrote a book where the presumption is that every single one of their silly theories was true. The world really is run by the Illuminatus, the UFO's really are behind everything, the mob really did kill Kennedy, etc. It's just hilarious, and it's all so closely tied into real history that it's a game to figure out what is real and what isn't. This article tingled my brain in a way that hasn't happened since I read Illuminatus.

-Keslin, the naked nerd girl.

Hoax. (3.50 / 2) (#24)
by Alarmist on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 11:29:47 AM EST

Yes, it's a hoax, but an amusing one.

The "infra-red" photo showing a fractal image with script inside is a kicker--the script comes from the Voynich Manuscript.

Notice the date on the page (4.00 / 2) (#25)
by fluffy grue on Thu Mar 22, 2001 at 06:20:13 PM EST

Others have already pointed out it's a hoax, though this is definitely cool, especially since it took until the punchline for me to get it:

© Ray Girvan (raygirvan@freezone.co.uk), April 1st 1999.
My sincere thanks to the late Bob Schipke for permission to reproduce his work.
Hehe, still quite cool though. :)
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Relating Carmina Burana with Fractals in one step | 25 comments (11 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
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