dimarts, 3 d’agost del 2010

The music of the spheres

Pythagoras was the first to discover the fundamental connection between mathematics and music. He filled an urn with water and banged it with a hammer to produce a note. If he removed half the water and banged the urn again, the note had gone up an octave. Each time he removed more water to leave the urn one-third full, then one-quarter full, the notes produced would sound to his ear in harmony with the first note he had played. Any other note which were created by removing some other amount of water sounded in disonance with that original note. There was some audible beauty associated with these fractions. The harmony that Pythagoras had discovered in the numbers 1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4,... made him believe that the whole universe was controlled by music, which is why he coined the expression 'the music of the spheres'.

Marcus du Sautoy, The music of the primes.