[Marxism] science, religion, islam (penrose tilings)

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Mon Feb 26 08:42:48 MST 2007

a few more comments before i teach physics to the masses ...

> The mosques and palaces of the medieval Islamic world are wonders of
> design. Because tradition forbids any pictorial decorations, they are
> covered with complex and intricate mosaics. 

it is interesting that a constraint from religion -- if the speculation 
here is correct -- forced an inventiveness in another direction. so 
rather than producing normal pictorial decorations with a high degree of 
symmetry, the designers tried to mask the decorative markings by playing 
with the symmetries. and voila, they happen across quasi-random tiling 
of the plane.

> On page 1106, physicists Peter Lu of Harvard University and Paul
> Steinhardt of Princeton University propose that architects made a
> conceptual breakthrough sometime between the 13th and 15th centuries. 

Steinhardt is also author of a recent alternative theory to the Big Bang 
involving collisions of branes (superstrings).

> The paper has had a mixed reception. Crystal expert Emil Makovicky of
> the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, studied girih patterns for 2
> decades. His analysis of the patterns on a tomb in Maragha, Iran, built
> in 1197, concluded that they map onto Penrose tiles and was published in
> a 1992 book about fivefold symmetry. Lu and Steinhardt cite his work, he
> says, but "without proper quoting and … in a way that [the ideas] look
> like their own."

who's on first? no who's on second, what's on first.
> Lu and Steinhardt say they were aware of Makovicky's published work on
> the subject, but "we have found serious problems with both his technical
> reconstruction and general conclusions." They say that they decided to
> limit their references to Makovicky "to avoid having to address the
> serious technical problems with his work." Makovicky disagrees that his
> work is flawed.

yes, science IS a social enterprise.

> Beyond the question of credit, just how mathematically sophisticated
> these medieval architects really were remains open. "We haven't done an
> exhaustive search of Islamic architecture by any means," says Lu. "There
> could be a perfect quasi-crystal pattern waiting to be found."

I am reminded of a favorite quote of Carrol Cox and Nestor: "the anatomy 
of (wo)man is the key to the anatomy of the ape". for myself, it's 
enough to see a progression from past struggles to our current 
struggles. Even if the Islamic designers were not THINKING Penrose 
tilings, they were struggling in the same arena as today. What would be 
more interesting than deciding who's on first is to trace the 
progression of geometric struggles from early architecture to present 
geometrical physics.


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