Discovery reveals Babylonian geometry ‘1,000 years before Pythagoras’

Discovery reveals Babylonian geometry ‘1,000 years before Pythagoras’
The ancient clay tablet was engraved with a stylus to describe a field containing marshy areas, as well as a threshing floor and nearby tower. (UNSW Sydney)
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Updated 05 August 2021

Discovery reveals Babylonian geometry ‘1,000 years before Pythagoras’

Discovery reveals Babylonian geometry ‘1,000 years before Pythagoras’
  • Researcher: 3,700-year-old clay tablet discovered near Baghdad will ‘change way we view history of maths’
  • The Old Babylonian period lasted between about 1900 and 1600 BC, and saw the advancement of religious, literary and scientific works

LONDON: The sale of a field in ancient Mesopotamia 3,700 years ago has been recognized as the first known use of applied geometry.

It was discovered that the surveyor of the land plot recorded the purchase on a clay tablet about the size of a palm by using complex strings of numbers known as Pythagorean triples.

“It’s a discovery that will completely change the way we view the history of mathematics,” said the lead researcher of the study, Dr. Daniel Mansfield of the University of New South Wales, Australia. “This is more than a thousand years before Pythagoras was born.”

Si.427, the label used by mathematicians to refer to the clay tablet, was first discovered near Baghdad in 1894, but it spent more than 100 years in a museum in Istanbul, left unnoticed by researchers. 

“It’s the only known example of a ‘cadastral’ document from the Old Babylonian period — a plan used by surveyors to define land boundaries,” Mansfield said.

“In this case, it tells us legal and geometric details about a field that was split after some of it was sold off.”

The Old Babylonian period lasted between about 1900 and 1600 BC, and saw the advancement of religious, literary and scientific works.

As a result of the Si.427 research, Mansfield believes that Babylonian surveyors would browse an array of Pythagorean triples and use one that best represented a rectangular plot to formulate a sales map, often using rope and other measuring devices.

“With this new tablet, we can actually see for the first time why they were interested in geometry: To lay down precise land boundaries,” Mansfield said.

“This is from a period where land started to become private. People started thinking in terms of ‘my land and your land,’ wanting to establish a proper boundary to have positive neighborly relationships. And this is what this tablet immediately says. It’s a field being split and new boundaries being made.”


Emirati artist Aisha Juma takes part in ‘Beyond Belief’ exhibition in Germany 

Emirati artist Aisha Juma takes part in ‘Beyond Belief’ exhibition in Germany 
Updated 21 September 2021

Emirati artist Aisha Juma takes part in ‘Beyond Belief’ exhibition in Germany 

Emirati artist Aisha Juma takes part in ‘Beyond Belief’ exhibition in Germany 

DUBAI: Emirati visual artist Aisha Juma is showcasing her work at an exhibition titled “Beyond Belief” in Berlin, Germany. 

Supported by Abu Dhabi Festival (ADF), Juma is taking part in the exhibition that brings together a variety of artworks from more than 35 artists. 

Aisha Juma is an Emirati visual artist. (aishajuma.com)

Open until Nov. 21, “Beyond Belief” explores the rise of modern-day spirituality, its origins, diverse manifestations and unique contemporary attributes. 

Juma, on her Instagram account, shared images of her drawings that are “inspired by the concept of art and spirituality.

“So happy to be part of this fundamental creative conversation,” she wrote. 

The inauguration of the event was attended by Hafsa Al-Ulama, the UAE ambassador to Germany. 

In her speech at the event, Al-Ulama praised the strong cultural ties between the UAE and Germany, and commended ADF’s commitment to participating in art exhibitions and festivals in Germany. 

She added that the festival’s sponsorship of “Beyond Belief” reflects Abu Dhabi’s role in promoting art worldwide. 


Expo 2020 Dubai releases official song featuring regional stars

Expo 2020 Dubai releases official song featuring regional stars
Updated 21 September 2021

Expo 2020 Dubai releases official song featuring regional stars

Expo 2020 Dubai releases official song featuring regional stars

DUBAI: Expo 2020 Dubai, which will kick off on Oct. 1, released its official song titled “This is our Time” on Tuesday. 

The English and Arabic language song, now available on YouTube, features Emirati singer Hussain Al-Jassmi, who is Expo 2020’s ambassador, along with US-Lebanese Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Mayssa Karaa, who is the artistic director of Expo’s all-female Firdaus Orchestra. 

“This is our Time” also features 21-year-old Emirati singer-songwriter Almas, named in Spotify’s list of best female talent in the Middle East.

“‘This is our Time’ is a tribute to the UAE for all it has been, is today and will achieve in the years to come,” Al-Jassmi said in a released statement. “It’s a song about pride, faith and unity, and I hope that it brings a smile to the faces of everyone who hears it, wherever they may be in the world. Being a part of such an iconic event in the UAE’s history is extremely exciting and rewarding.”

Meanwhile, Karaa said that she feels honored to have collaborated on the song. “Expo 2020 is a significant moment for the entire Arab world and for Arabs around the rest of the world. Through this song, I hope we can inspire people of all ages and from all walks of life to follow their dreams – the possibilities are endless,” she said. 

The youngest of the trio, Almas, said that the song is an “embodiment of hope and the belief that collaboration will yield a better future for all.”

“I’m so proud to be Emirati and play a role in a moment that will be forever part of my country’s history,” she added. 

The six-month event, which was postponed due to COVID-19, will run until March 31, 2022. 


Review: ‘Schumacher’ is a touching, if unsatisfying, portrait of a legend

Review: ‘Schumacher’ is a touching, if unsatisfying, portrait of a legend
Updated 20 September 2021

Review: ‘Schumacher’ is a touching, if unsatisfying, portrait of a legend

Review: ‘Schumacher’ is a touching, if unsatisfying, portrait of a legend

LONDON: Michael Schumacher will always be an iconic figure in Formula 1 — widely regarded as one of the most gifted racers of all time, with a work ethic hitherto unseen in the sport, and a drive for perfection that left his rivals staggered by his laser focus. And while this documentary, created with the blessing and cooperation of the Schumacher family, offers an incredible look at the personal and private life of the German driver, it does little to expand on what most people already know about the seven-times world champion.

Now streaming on Netflix, a procession of famous faces from the world of F1 — Ross Brawn, Flavio Briatore, Jean Todt, Eddie Irvine, David Coulthard and many others — offer their recollections of Michael, and those interviews are expertly combined with archival material from Schumacher himself, home videos released by the family, and interviews with his wife and children.

Michael Schumacher’s documentary offers a look at the personal and private life of the German driver. (Motorsport Images)

But while directors Hanns-Bruno Kammertöns, Vanessa Nöcker and Michael Wech do a skilled job of stitching everything together, they rarely take the chance to take “Schumacher” into new territory. Subjects such as Schumacher’s aggression-fueled lapses in racing judgement, or his insistence that he simply couldn’t be in the wrong in any crash, get little more than lip service — perhaps understandably, given that the film was created in such close cooperation with his family. But it does beg the question of what “Schumacher” hopes to achieve. Anyone who follows F1 knows that his was a generation-defining talent, and hearing that same sentiment reflected by a series of notable interviewees simply rings a little hollow.

What’s more, the movie steers clear of offering up any glimpse of Schumacher today. At the end of 2013, Michael suffered a significant brain injury during a skiing trip and hasn’t been seen since. He is, his family insists, continuing to live his life as privately as possible. And while that privacy is important, and absolutely his right, it makes for a strange juxtaposition with a film billed as offering such an intimate portrait of a racing legend.


Egyptian actress Rosaline Elbay to star in Netflix drama 

Egyptian actress Rosaline Elbay to star in Netflix drama 
Updated 20 September 2021

Egyptian actress Rosaline Elbay to star in Netflix drama 

Egyptian actress Rosaline Elbay to star in Netflix drama 

DUBAI: Egyptian actress Rosaline Elbay is set to star in Netflix’s upcoming heist action drama “Jigsaw” alongside US actor Giancarlo Esposito, she revealed this week. 

The series centers around a large heist that is loosely based on the $70 billion in bonds that went missing in New York’s downtown Manhattan when Hurricane Sandy struck the city in 2012.

Elbay, who is also a writer, will play the role of Judy Goodwin, the crew’s demolitions specialist who is clever, talented and independent.

The eight-episode series, which ranges from 24 years before the heist to one year after, also casts Spanish actress Paz Vega, British star Rufus Sewell, US actors Tati Gabrielle and Peter Mark Kendall, Australian talent Jai Courtney and Iranian actress Niousha Noor.

Elbay is famous for her role as Amani in Hulu’s award-winning series “Ramy,” which stars US-Egyptian Golden Globe winner Ramy Youssef. 


Director Mounia Akl’s ‘Costa Brava, Lebanon’ wins award at Toronto Film Festival

Director Mounia Akl’s ‘Costa Brava, Lebanon’ wins award at Toronto Film Festival
Updated 20 September 2021

Director Mounia Akl’s ‘Costa Brava, Lebanon’ wins award at Toronto Film Festival

Director Mounia Akl’s ‘Costa Brava, Lebanon’ wins award at Toronto Film Festival

 

DUBAI: Lebanese director Mounia Akl this week won the Network for the Promotion of Asia Pacific Cinema (NETPAC) award at the 46th Toronto International Film Festival for her feature “Costa Brava, Lebanon.”

Her impassioned debut is an eerie family drama set amid a raging climate crisis in near-future Lebanon.

The film stars actors Saleh Bakri and Nadine Labaki. 

Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri plays Walid and Lebanese star Nadine Labaki plays his wife, Souraya. (Supplied)

“Costa Brava, Lebanon – an exquisite intergenerational family story – is an ode to sustainable futures by visionary new talent, Mounia Akl from her precious and troubled country,” said the NETPAC jury, that included Spanish filmmaker Gemma Cubero del Barrio, Beijing based film producer Isabelle Glachant and BAFTA-nominated producer Elhum Shakerifar, in a statement published in Deadline.

The 32-year-old filmmaker’s haunting and upsetting feature was originally meant to depict a dystopian Lebanon in 2030 at its worst.

“I tried to imagine this dystopian future where none of our problems had been solved and the country was an extreme version of itself,” she told Arab News at the festival.

“It was somehow a way for me to imagine the worst for myself in the same way you sometimes want to explore your trauma in a cathartic way. It was a way for me to imagine the worst in my mind as a way of avoiding the worst happening in my mind and in life.”

The film follows a family who move out of Beirut. (Supplied)

But Lebanon’s crisis deepened as Akl and her team got closer to shooting the movie. “The reality of Lebanon became more tragic and more dystopian than even the dystopia that I imagined in 2030,” she said.

In the film, the now trash-filled surroundings of Lebanon’s “Costa Brava” had meant to be the free-spirited Badri family’s getaway utopia from the pollution and social unrest of Beirut. But their dreams were trashed when construction of a landfill site started next door to the family’s home.

Costa Brava is an actual landfill in Lebanon that opened in April 2016 as one of two sites advertised by the Lebanese government as a solution to the eight-month trash crisis the country had experienced the year before. However, within two weeks of its opening, residents and activists launched protests at the site demanding its closure.