Tag Archives: math literacy\numeracy

The Four Hundred

“’The Four Hundred’ is the nickname for the social elite of New York, an alliance of old landed families, financial speculators, manufacturers and entrepreneurs who had assimilated European social manners and snobbery in the late nineteenth century. The overlooked the divisions of the Civil War, delighted in transatlantic marriages with the nobility of Europe, and guarded themselves from ‘new money’ coming in from the West, especially those who put too much crushed ice in their wine. The concept of the Four Hundred was popularized by Ward McAllister, the Beau Brummel of Manhattan, who coined the expression from the number who could be comfortably entertained, and felt at ease, in Mrs. Astor’s ballroom.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Cultural Literacy: Fractal

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on fractals for math teachers and students alike.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

1,003 Conquests of Don Giovanni

“Leporello, manservant of the fictional rake Don Giovanni (Don Juan), revealed that his master made 1,003 sexual conquests in his Spanish homeland…as well as 640 in Italy, 231 in Germany, 100 in France, and 91 in Turkey. Of course, it must be remembered that Leporello’s purpose was to gently persuade Donna Elvira not to put too much trust in his master–and to amuse an operatic audience. Still, Don Giovanni’s figures stack up well alongside his historic rivals. Casanova claimed to have slept with a mere 122 women. Byron (who wrote his own Don Juan) raced through more than 300 women (plus numerous rent boys and transvestites) before his early death in Greece, aged 36.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

 

Homer’s City of 100 Gates

“Homer’s chosen image for power was to describe Thebes, the capital of ancient Egypt, as a city of 100 gates; and from out of each one, at any moment, might pour 200 men riding chariots. Egyptian Thebes was known by its inhabitants as Waset. It should not be confused with Thebes in central Greece, a small but ancient Bronze Age city locked into an unprofitable rivalry with Athens and with its own numerical associations ever since Aeschylus wrote the play Seven Against Thebes.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Two Sevens Clash

Two Sevens Clash was the debut album from Culture, the roots reggae band led by Joseph Hill and produced in Kingston, Jamaica, by Joe Gibbs. Its title refers to the date of 7.7.1977—the day when ‘two sevens met’—which the Rastafarian prophet Marcus Garvey predicted would be a day of chaos and apocalypse. As the liner notes of the album read: ‘One day Joseph Hill had a vision, while riding a bus, of 1977 as a year of judgement—when two sevens clash—when past injustices would be avenged. Lyrics and melodies came into his head as he rode, and thus was born the song Two Sevens Clash which became a massive hit in reggae circles both in Jamaica and abroad. The prophecies noted by the lyrics so profoundly captured the imagination of the people that on July 7, 1977—the day when the sevens fully clashed (seventh day, seventh month, seventy-seventh year) a hush descended on Kingston; many people did not go outdoors, shops closed, an air of foreboding and expectation filled the city.’”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

The 1001 Nights

“The Kitab Alf Laylah wa-Laylah—‘The Book of the Thousand and One Nights’—has inspired countless films, musicals, and novels. The original tales are breathtakingly inventive, vulgar, and discursive, full of cliff-hanger action, scented with sex, royalty, and magic. Western scholars have been arguing over their origin, composition, and textual tradition for some 300 years, a debate animated by the schism between an eighteenth-century French translation of a Syrian manuscript and a later English translation of an Egyptian one. It seems clear that there is an ancient Persian, Indian, and Mesopotamian collection of stories at the core of ‘the Nights,’ which came together as a coherent whole in Arabic in ninth-century Baghdad, was then embroidered by Iraqi storytellers, and further embellished by tales added from the streets, cafes, and imaginations of the medieval cities of Egypt, North Africa, and Syria.

Long known as ‘The Thousand Nights,’ the collection did not become ‘A Thousand and One’ until the twelfth century. Curiously, too, many of the celebrated adventures such as ‘Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves’ and ‘Aladdin and his Lamp’ were added at the very last ‘textual’ moment by the first French translator (Antoine Galland), sourced from a Maronite story-teller in Aleppo.”             

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Ptolemy’s 1,022 Stars

“The great quest of medieval science was for a perfect copy of Ptolemy’s Almagest, written in Egypt in 147 AD. It was known to have thirteen sections, with the most accurate analysis of star and planetary paths ever achieved, alongside a catalogue of 1,022 starts listed on a scale of magnitude from 1 to 6. It was a key that threatened to unlock the secrets of the heavens.”            

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.