The Plastic Brain

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YBC 7289 is a small clay disc containing a rough sketch of a square and its diagonals. Across one of the diagonals is scrawled 1,24,51,10 — a sexagesimal number that corresponds to the decimal number 1.4142129, an approximation of the square root of 2. Below is the answer to the problem of calculating the diagonal of a square whose sides are 0.5 units. This bears on the issue of whether the Babylonians had discovered Pythagoras’s theorem some 1,300 years before Pythagoras did.

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Author: Rogan Tinsley

Biology, science and maths teacher with a PhD in Neuroscience and passion for education.

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