Friday, July 27, 2018

Number by Colors

page showing relationship of anglesYou all know about coloring by numbers. The numbers in the various spaces of a picture cue you into what colors to use, and in the end you get a beautiful image. What we have here is not quite the reverse of that, but still a case of using color coding to execute complicated math to arrive at a number!

Two-page spread showing rows of colored symbolsThis is Oliver Byrne's The First Six books of the Elements of Euclid expertly printed (and it was a tough job!) by William Pickering in 1847. Instead of letters and symbols for shapes, lines and angles, Byrne broke down Euclidean geometry into a color coded schema. Imagine the printer's patience and skill to get the registration right--probably only surpassed by the patience and skill of the reader who tried to learn geometry this way.

Simple proof illustrated with colored shapes
To learn your Euclid by colors, ask for Rare QA451.B99 1847 (while you're at it, take a look at the 1482 edition, Incunabula 52).

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