Pythagoras May Have Been A Murderous Math Cult Leader

You may be most familiar with the name Pythagoras from the common theorem dealing with right triangles. However, the ancient mathematician Pythagoras, who lived around 500 B.C., was quite a character himself. One weird quirk is that he was afraid of beans. But, he also led a math cult of Pythagoreans who would discuss mathematical ratios and proportions. According to legend, a member of Pythagoras' cult (or religion, depending on the source) tried proving to Pythagoras that the leg of a triangle could be an irrational number. Pythagoras is rumored to have then killed the man, who was named Hippasus.

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What Was Up With Pythagoras?

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Mathematician Pythagoras had a strong fear of beans. 00:14

  2. Arabic numbers were brought to the west by Fibonacci around the year 1200. 02:27

Pythagoras Cup (Greedy Cup) Filled With Mercury

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Pythagoras invented the Pythagoras cup so that none of his students would receive more than their share of wine. 00:19

  2. Watch an animated demonstration of how the Pythagoras cup prevents drinkers from getting too greedy: 01:48

  3. Putting liquid mercury at the bottom of a Pythagoras cup will prevent it from working. 03:09

Written by Curiosity Staff January 22, 2016

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