Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Seki Takakazu (wikipedia.org)
84 points by Hooke on June 22, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 12 comments

Coincidentally, happen to be in Kerala on a work related trip.

The "Newton" of India/Indic/Hindu culture would be Madhava of Sangamagrama[1], the founder of the Kerala School of Math. Did some impressive work on calculus, that might have actually even predated Newton/Leibnitz et al.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madhava_of_Sangamagrama [2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pElvQdcaGXE [Towards the end of the video iirc]

I've heard of this mathematician several times over the years, but have never seen the capabilities and point of view of his calculus-like system actually described. Does anyone know of a more detailed article or book that gives such a description?

One of the books given in the references is actually available in it's entirety [1] and appears to be quite good. Chapter 6 covers Seki, Chapter 7 is about his contemporaries and western influences (or lack there-of), and Chapter 8 is about the 'yenri', which is the Calculus system in question.

[1] https://books.google.com/books?id=J1YNAAAAYAAJ

I wonder how many similar genius are now completely unknown.

Countless is my guess.

How did the Polynesians find Tahiti? What did Aristotle write about in his lost book on economics? How did the Romans mix holographic glass at nano scales? How was the Amazon cultivated to have mostly edible plants? What was lost in the wake of every culture pillaged by the Mongols?

We’re advanced today because oil has given us the energy to build stuff. But we only know a sliver of the amazing things that have ever been learned.

> What did Aristotle write about in his lost book on economics?

Aristotle’s work (or rather the work attributed to Aristotle) has survived,[0] so you can read it for yourself.


And again, here's my idea of a Sci-Fi novel.

Information retrieval is difficult. Many important works in various subjects in human history have been developed much earlier than they were widely known. They remained unknown due to geography, language, culture, and popularity barriers. Even today when everything is online, sometimes important works are still ignored until rediscovered.

What if an alien civilization came to Earth in ~4000 B.C.E and gave human civilizations worldwide a information system, which can: (1) search keywords and obtain full text of any written work related to a topic, (2) obtain the state-of-art researches on a subject by querying it with natural language, (3) create an online forum for scholars to communicate their works, (4) translate the text to any language.

That is, the alien does not directly create or teach any knowledge for/to humans, but help humans to retrieve and communicate existing knowledge to the maximum extent.

What could the alternative human history be? Would we discover Newtonian mechanics 1000 years earlier? You know, if the Greek tradition was followed, or if Arabic scholars were able to communicate their researches directly with Europeans and Asians, discovering Newtonian mechanics 1000 years earlier sounds extremely plausible.

Last time I asked this question, someone suggested that the inevitable consequence is the creation of a global patent system, in which pure objective knowledge can also be patented.

Some themes you can explore in your novel:

- how the scientifc method itself develops, or whether it develops at all

- how the tool affects the power structure of society. Would its use be banned for the lesser classes? Would literacy itself be banned or discouraged?

- Would religions, art, or culture evolve differently? Would the biodiversity of ideas actually reduce?

Perhaps the most compelling angle would be the one where the tool doesn't work according to our modern technocratic expectations.

Insightful comment.

> Would the biodiversity of ideas actually reduce? [...] the tool doesn't work according to our modern technocratic expectations.

One failure mode immediately comes to my mind: some fields of researches would progress rapidly, but after a while the entire human civilization may stuck (like a broken hill climbing algorithm) at a local optimum forever and wastes a lot of time.

Is the joke that you are literally describing Google?

Sort of. Google, but 5000 years earlier.

Who knows what kind of math was written in the sand with sticks over the past 300k years?

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact