back to article Secret ancient code, basis of all modern civilisation, cracked

A former IT type, nowadays a part-time professor of scientific philosophy, says he has cracked a "hidden mathematical musical code" in the works of the famous ancient Greek savant Plato. According to Dr Jay Kennedy, a visiting scholar at Manchester uni, his discovery "shows us how to combine science and religion", perhaps …

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  1. Matthew 17

    LOL

    Wut?

  2. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    The Plato Code...

    Starring Tom Hanks, with Ian McKellen as Plato...

    Coming soon to a cinema near you...

    1. Lottie

      Damn you

      You beat me to it!

      1. Bah Humbug

        The title is required blah blah blah

        I got bored about 1/3 through the article - can anyone tell me if I missed anything interesting??

        Mods - On a totally unrelated sidenote...finally figured out how to reply to comments on here - use Firefox... Turns out that Opera doesn't show the 'reply to this post' link, so I've been searching in vain for that option. Any chance of getting that fixed?

        1. Dougal23

          reply

          You have fixed it already, use Firfox DOH!!!!

        2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          What a strange state of affairs

          "Mods - On a totally unrelated sidenote...finally figured out how to reply to comments on here - use Firefox... Turns out that Opera doesn't show the 'reply to this post' link, so I've been searching in vain for that option. Any chance of getting that fixed?" .... Bah Humbug Posted Tuesday 29th June 2010 14:37 GMT

          Update your Opera browser, Bah Humbug, for the one that I am using works just fine showing the 'reply to this post' link.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Linux

          Opera works

          Opera 10.11 on linux works just fine. The link is displayed. Since it's an image, maybe it's just a caching issue.

        4. J 3

          @ Bah Humbug

          Yup, under Opera the link is there, but it's white with a white background. Not very visible, indeed. Opera seems to have a lot of trouble with CSS (on many different pages, not just El Reg) in my past almost-one-month experience with its Linux version, so I'm assuming that's what's happening here.

          I mostly gave up on using Opera for now, although I want to -- it's fast, it's geeky, and I like the Speed Dial thing.

          1. Pablo
            IT Angle

            Yeah, that...

            I think the problem must have something to do with the fact that it's not actually a link, but a very strangely styled button. I'm rather confused by that choice of design. It's kind of irritating because it also means I can't easily start a reply in a new tab.

        5. Zimmer
          Joke

          Not on Opera? Really

          Replying via Opera here ok.... (Ubuntu Linux 10.04 though, so perhaps you are using the wrong OS and the correct browser)...

        6. Dave Mundt
          FAIL

          Where is the reply link?

          Greetings and Salutations.

          The link is there, but the CSS apparently gets interpreted as white text on a white background. Makes it a TAD hard to read!

          Say...REG....how about FIXING that?

          regards

          dave mundt

        7. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

          Re: The title is required blah blah blah

          There is a script related bug in Opera 10.10

          - The latest version of Opera (10.53) doesn't have the bug - of course if you are on 10.53 then you have just found us another bug to chase.

          1. 2FishInATank

            Works fine on 10.10 here...

            It's always worked fine here, no matter which version of Opera, or which OS I use it on.

            I'm even posting this from 10.10 on my old pc which I'm about to upgrade to 10.53...or maybe the 10.60 beta....hmmm...

            Long term (since v4) Opera user, and I certainly don't notice any CSS related oddness on sites that I visit regularly....

          2. DJV Silver badge

            Opera 10.54

            Bug is still present in Opera 10.54 - just so you know,

        8. Marvin the Martian
          Flame

          I like how relevant this discussion is to the article

          So the discussion on this article is mostly about a (possibly already fixed) rendering bug in Opera 10, not about hobbying IT types? Kind of like the discussion in the article of who is the primary caregiver to Lily and John.

          Eh? Lily and John? Who are they? Hopefully the servers he uses to run his homepage and his code decripting software --- if not, it's completely inexplicable in an article about presumed codes hidden in Plato.

        9. J 3
          Happy

          10.60 works now

          At least in my Ubuntu 9.10 box, Opera 10.60 seems to have the CSS problems I had been experiencing solved -- here, at weather.com and Yahoo sports pages, all of which used to have display problems, are now displaying fine. So far.

  3. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Sir

    "or other stainless warrior knights like Galahad or Roland before him, or the Jedi after"

    <yoda>Wars make not one great.

  4. Is it me?

    Well, thank God for that.

    Speaking as a God botherer, I've never had any problem reconciling science with religon, or for that matter belief.

    And now we have an academic who has proved it, OMG, I just can't tell you how much this means to me. But let me express this in the following words:

    Which sums it all up, so where's that treatise on Hadrons.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No problems reconciling?

      No problems reconciling science with religion.

      When it comes down to the age of the Earth, do you come down on the side of religion (e.g. Christianity which claims 5-6,000 years old), or science - 4.5 billion years?

      Do you go with (most if not all) religion's "creatures are created", or science's "evolution"?

      I'm not saying for a moment you cannot reconcile the two, but I struggle to see how anybody could do it without a problem, unless they really watered down how literally that take one or other, or both, arguments.

      Anonymous...the FSM is likely to be watching

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Joke

        A simple example

        There's a joke that goes:

        A guy was talking to God one day and asked, "God, how long is a million years to you?"

        To which God replied, "It is but a second, my child."

        The man thinks for a moment, then asks, "How much is a million dollars to you?"

        God replies, "Only a penny."

        Then the man asks, "God, could I have a penny?"

        To which God answers, "In a second."

        It's actually pretty easy to reconcile a lot of those type of issues if you accept that God does not need to perceive the universe in the same way that we do.

      2. Psmiffy

        Did his ...

        ... noodly appendage come down and adjust Plato's writings?

      3. The old man from scene 24

        That depends on what you mean by "religion"

        If you mean unquestioning acceptance of a large accrual of tosh, then no you cannot reconcile religion with science. But then under this definition, Christianity doesn't count as a religion (although that doesn't stop a lot of Christians from being "religious").

        If you want a definition of "religion" that includes Christianity, then you're going to have to drop the 6000 years since creation claim and the false dichotomy between "creation" and "evolution". These simply are not affirmed by any core Christian doctrine. To whit, I direct you to the Nicene and Apostles creeds (google them), which say nothing about 6000 years or the mechanism by which biodiversity occurred.

        Under this latter definition, there really isn't anything to reconcile.

      4. Chris 35

        @AC

        The biggest problem that you are referring to isn't the reconciliation of religion and science, it's the ability of people who take the bible as literal truth rather than a foundation set of morals by which they should live their lives to grasp anything which involves a bit of thought and reasoning.

        The end argument that solves everything is this:

        The bible was wriiten by a man. Man is inherently flawed.

        To cover all bases, believe everything that has been scientifically proven and put it in the box that holds everything that is in His grand plan.

        I.e. Evolution: He created the concept and set it in motion. Man was just too primitive to understand this so created stories to give his own existance meaning and substance.

        Before you start the downvotes, I am, have always been, and probably always will be an atheist. I am just smart enough to see that the two sides of the coin aren't really facing in different directions.

      5. Sir Sham Cad

        False comparison

        You appear to be conflating "Christianity" with more specific examples of it (and also some interpretations of Islam plus loads of other religions with a Creationist fringe). namely "Young Earth Creationism" and "Bible Literalism" which, to be honest, often go hand in hand (Erm, it's obviously not "Bible" in the case of the Islamic interpretation.

        Just about every Religionist I've ever met has had no problem with the idea that God created the Universe to run on certain rules (God's Algorithms, if you like) which we are discovering more and more detail about with Science, and that, because The Bible was written by Humans trying to interpret the Word of God (or just guessing at it because a cautionary tale was needed) it's going to be inconsistent and not very accurate, especially in the unknown and at the time unknowable fields of Evolutionary Biology and Astrophysics. In glib summary: God can have created Evolution as the mechanism for life to be created and, yes, he can have done this 14 billion years ago and he could have sent Jebus to save us from Sin/Nokia/Toast without interesting patterns and their Christian (or otherwise) beliefs are not diminished by science and nor is the glory of their god.

        So, there is no problem at all and no watering down of the deist "argument" needed in these cases.

        It's only the fringe nutjobs who prefer to remain wilfully ignorant because stuff they don't know is scary and therefore a threat, that have a problem precisely because of the literal nature of their interpretation of their religion/religious texts.

        On the flipside, I, as an atheist, do not find normal religionists to be stupid, close minded etc... only the occasional Creationist/Literalist. Oh, and some hardline "anti-religion" atheists. Every side has fringe elements.

        1. Hungry Sean
          Pint

          @Chris35

          My sentiments exactly. Somedays I despair that everyone thinks atheism => Dawkinsism. As another atheist, I am still capable of seeing that the vast majority of religious people don't let their faith get in the way of their ability to reason or use their belief to divide the world into good people and the enemy who must be converted. I wish the neo atheist crowd could learn this second bit, but then again, feeling simulataneously superior and persecuted is half the appeal of most extreme sects.

          Beers all 'round for decency.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Black Helicopters

        Amusing assumption, but a bit ad hominem.

        Many but not all Christians use

        #include judaism.h

        in their religion. Not all, there's good reason to not do so as justified in Gospel -- it appears that many pick & choose what they want from the Old Testament to the point of being self-contradictory, and Someone warned about misusing scripture as a justification for non-Christian behavior, a warning that gets sadly ignored.

        For what it's worth, within the context of religion, creation myths and other religious silliness can serve as decent explanation of how things came to be in terms their contemporary audience would understand. Overly literal minds often take these things way, way, too far. Do I think, for example, that the entire world flooded? Not really, However, I bet there was a really big flood at the Black Sea that would certainly give the people around it the idea that the whole world was underwater -- for them, it was, as their whole world probably was a twenty mile radius from where they were born.

        I highly doubt that early agrarians would have accepted or even been in a position of being able to comprehend stuff like evolution -- most didn't even have the benefit of a zero to keep them company. It doesn't take away from the theology or even their intelligence -- they just didn't have the benefit of the giants upon whose shoulders we stand upon.

        Some things about religion do work. Don't assume that the people that believe in it are all living in caves, eating dirt and willfully ignoring all science in a vain attempt to achieve luddite nirvana.

      7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Sorry, Christianity says nothing about the age of the Earth

        The Pope Jean Paul II said it himself : the Bible is not a scientific reference.

        Therefor, Christianity does not give a date for the age of the Earth.

        Rabid, ignorant, pseudo-religious fascists calling themselves Christians, however, use the Bible as an excuse to set an age on the Earth in direct violation of the Pope's words.

      8. Ainteenbooty

        Re: No problems reconciling?

        @Anonymous Coward:

        What you refer to is the "young earth" subcategory of christian belief, to assume they represent the total wisdom that can be derived via religion is either willful ignorance to aid your point-making, or mere ignorant asininity.

        I personally might find scientific conjecture much more relevant to my scope of interest than any religious equivalent I have been exposed to, but that does not mean that I deem the two to be inevitably conflicting.

        This specific discovery, however, does nothing to bring the two closer together beyond informing us that Plato believed they could be.

      9. Anonymous Coward
        Heart

        The pope

        and 99% of Christians, seem to do ok. Shame that most Athists seem to hold there views for no other reason than to feel like they are better people.

        They all seem to be the type of people how think that interlecual supiriority and the ability to win an argument, even when non exists, makes them a good person, and being kind, and nice meens nothing. Borderline sociopaths.

        Most (good) Christians have no interest in evanglisum, and do not hold the views you think they do, they just want a quiet life, to be good to others, and to eventualy pass on to a better place.

        Why do you feel the need to attack them for this, and for the actions of a few? If its the normal "god botheres held back science" argument, or the "they start wars" argument please please please go and do some reserch and you'll find thats just not true. But then like most Athists you probably hold a blinkerd view, aggressive to anyone who dosen't agree with you, just like you claim of others so will get nothing from it.

        Why not just leave people to there faith. As long as they are not harming anyone, why worry?

      10. Richard 12 Silver badge
        FAIL

        Christianity says nothing about the age of the Earth or Universe

        Some monk a while back went through the bible adding up the minimum length of time needed for everything in the Bible to have happened.

        Since then, a gaggle of loonies have tried to claim that said minimum length of time is the actual age of the planet. The monk himself never claimed that, and the Catholic church doesn't believe it either.

        The Bible never actually says how anything was created (with the arguable exception of Eve,) only that it was God what done it.

        For the sake of argument, let's accept the proposition that God created the Universe.

        He could have done it any way He pleased. Maybe setting up the precise conditions needed for a universe to eventually permit life to start and then evolve was more fun than assembling it like a giant airfix.

        I would certainly have enjoyed watching the Universe self-organise, seeing life kickstart and evolve from there much more than putting each atom together one at a time - creating several billion billion billion* identical hydrogen atoms would be terribly boring, don't you think?

        Given that the Bible makes the claim that man is "made in God's image", a logical extension is that something creative and 'good' enjoyed by humans would also be enjoyed by God, and something that humans find boring (eg repetitive work) God would also find boring.

        Hence an 'Act of Creation' as claimed by some is wrong by their own argument.

        Thus the only self-consistent view is that God used methods similar to that which we have discovered using our Science.

        Was that train of thought more fun then taking the inaccurate mickey?

        *Inaccurate by an unknown order of magnitude.

      11. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        How to reconcile

        Age of the Earth:

        Both have it wrong. There are numerous examples of how easy it is to throw off the accuracy of science's best methods of estimating age so they really can't say with any certainty how old the Earth is. As for Christianity's figure, it's based on a lot of assumption and thus almost certainly wrong.

        Creation vs evolution:

        They co-exist quite happily in ID theory. Basically all ID says so that there's evidence that an intelligence was applied in the design of life. It makes no comment on the process that design took, and thus leaves evolution as a possibility.

        1. markfiend
          FAIL

          Re: Anonymous Coward, The pope, 29th June 2010 21:13 GMT

          Why have people downvoted this hilarious parody? Come on, you've all fallen for a classic example of Poe's law!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Down

          @Pascal Monett

          Not all Christians are Catholics.

        3. A J Stiles
          Grenade

          Problem with Intelligent Design

          The problem with Intelligent Design is: where do you get the Intelligent Designer from?

          If irreducibly complex systems require an intelligent designer, and the intelligent designer is necessarily irreducibly complex (him|her|it)self, then the intelligent designer cannot begin to exist in the first place.

          On the other hand, if the intelligent designer is *not* necessarily irreducibly complex (him|her|it)self, then this suggests that even natural processes which are not irreducibly complex could give rise to irreducibly complex systems -- i.e., the intelligent designer is redundant.

  5. someone up north
    Headmaster

    what a fantatic PR job,

    what more can one get from junk academic

  6. Stef 4
    Coat

    Jedi

    So the Jedi came AFTER Galahad? I thought they were from "A long time ago" and in fact, a thousand generations before that?

    Mine's the one with a copy of The Bible Code in the pocket, as this sounds very familiar.

  7. Scott 19
    IT Angle

    No-one

    Ever plays in the study.

  8. Torben Mogensen

    Overfitting

    In artificial neural networks, there is a phenomenon called "overfitting" which is when a neural network has stared too long at its learning set and begins to see patterns that just aren't there.

    This work seems like an instance of this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Almost...

      Overfitting occurs because the patterns are there. Those patterns just aren't useful to the more general problem you're actually trying to solve.

    2. Maty

      nah

      There's a pattern there - and Plato put it in.

      Like all ancient works, his was designed to be read aloud to an educated audience. That means that even 'prose' has a metrical element to it simply because Plato, like any Greek of his day was taught rhetoric as a kid and knew the value of euphony.

      But code? BS

  9. Graham Marsden
    Coat

    Jesus' diary:

    ... Dinner with the lads tonight. Not sure if I should invite Judas...

    1. Lottie

      Later entry states:

      Sorted, Judas is coming and he's even going to pay for it! Says he's just come into some money.

      1. Ken 16 Silver badge
        Alert

        but if he sticks his grubby hands in my fingerbowl again

        I'm going to get cross

      2. TimeMaster T

        Yet later entry

        "Tried to tell the lads something deeply meaningful, only Judas got it."

        (The Gospel of Judas is a very interesting read)

  10. Max_Normal

    @ Is it me

    While this crackpot hypothesis proves absolutely nothing, what your comment does suggest is that christians are credulous in their scientific beliefs as well as their spiritual ones, and that isn't reeeeaaally the point of science now, is it?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    having skimmed one of his essays

    If you can't get your head round Ancient Greek concepts such as krasis and logos (not the plural of logo) then you're going to find it hard going.

    In fairness, he does say that it's a suggestion and needs to verified by others.

  12. Ad Fundum
    Joke

    define: modest

    "Basically I cracked the code," adds the doc. "I have shown rigorously that the books do contain codes and symbols...

    "This is a true discovery, not simply reinterpretation.

    "The result was amazing – it was like opening a tomb and finding new set of gospels written by Jesus Christ himself."

    "Not only that, I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Kenyan refugees. I write award winning operas and manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for 3 days in a row.

    I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed and I cook 30 minute brownies in 20 minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love and an outlaw in Peru. Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I had trials with Manchester United, I am the subject of numerous documentaries.

    When I'm bored, I build large suspension bridges in my garden, I enjoy urban hand gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free if charge.

    I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst and a ruthless bookie.

    Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don't perspire. I am a private citizen yet I receive fan mail. I have appeared on Through The Keyhole and won the gold plaque. Last Summer I toured Eastern Europe with a travelling centrifugal force demonstration. I run the 100m in 9.65 seconds. <y deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles.

    Children trust me.

    I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.

    I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down.

    I have made extraordinary four course meals using only some vegetables and a Breville Toaster. I breed prize winning clams.

    I have won bullfights in Madrid, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka and chess competitions at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery and I have spoken with Elvis."

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sniff, sniff

    Smells of nutter.

    1. Stef 4
      Coffee/keyboard

      @ Ad Fundum

      Thank you Mr (Miss?) Fundum, you made my day.

      I can't decide if you are channeling Graham Lister, or Kenny from Phoenix Nights..

      1. Ad Fundum
        Happy

        Thank you

        Mr.

        And I ought to add in the interests of full disclosure that this is supposedly a personal statement from an application form for Southampton University. My girlfriend has had a print of it pinned to the noticeboard for years. I read the doc's comments and I immediately though that this statement sounded like it could have been written by him. But thanks anyway.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I don't dispute your statement, but more info here:

          http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/blbyol3.htm?once=true&terms=trombone

    2. Lamont Cranston
      Heart

      A/S/L?

      xxx

    3. Ross 7

      Re:

      Alas plenty of scientists are extremely religious (in the non-denominational sense) in their views - "science the way we know it is the way it is, no questions. If you question it you're wrong!". Just look at the schmucks that think the Standard Model is the right one! It's close enough to be going on with, but it sure as hell ain't right.

      As for the guy in the article - "The result was amazing – it was like opening a tomb and finding new set of gospels written by Jesus Christ himself". Say what?! He said that? About himself? I don't care if you managed to beautifully and efficiently bring gravity into the SM whilst scaling Mount Everest on a unicycle you'd still be looked at rather oddly for saying that about yourself.

    4. Havin_it
      FAIL

      "Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down."

      You fucking failure. Up until that point I thought you were somebody I could look up to.

      1. Charley 1

        Minus the unicyle

        and the introducing of gravity to a bit of S&M, you'd probably just say "We knocked the bastard off."

    5. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Sir

      See last week's xkcd..

      http://www.xkcd.com/757/

    6. frank ly Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      As I Suspected

      "... I participate in full contact origami. ..."

      Now I know you're insane. Only true crazies do that.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      RE: define: modest

      But does he drink Dos Equis?

      Beer, obviously

      1. The Beer Monster
        Coat

        Flawed logic reveals the truth.

        Equis - well, equine means horses, therefore Dos Equis - The doings of a horse.

        Dos Equis = Horse piss.

        Sounds about right to me.

    8. Luther Blissett

      barf, barf

      I say, steady on old chap, he's just a philosopher of science. What sort of understanding of religion were you expecting? It's just like in medieval times when philosophers were employed by the Church to do casuistry on its behalf and had no proper conception of science - the wheel has turned and the boot has simply ended up on the other foot.

      Seriously tho' if you enjoy decoding things, take a tip from Luther and avoid numerology - you end up falling down between the rationals and the reals in your search for the elusive transcendental ones. The real action is all in semiotics. And if you can decode the last but one sentence, you're good to go.

    9. Pirate Dave
      Pirate

      Stay thirsty, my friends

      And although you don't drink much, when you do, it's Dos Equis...

      yeah, yeah, been hearing that on the radio for 3 or 4 years now, Mr. Most Interesting Man In The World.

    10. Simpson
      Thumb Up

      L/S/D?

      I also once discovered and forgot the meaning of life. But I was on acid at the time.

    11. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Will you keep it down in there

      I'm in the next cell and I'm trying to plan my invasion of Russia

      Yours

      Napoleon Bonaparte

  14. Yesnomaybe
    Thumb Down

    Let's ask ourselves:

    What would Judas do?

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Joke

      Sir

      Apparently he would apply to Joe Montana for a grant

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The title is too long.

    "Plato's importance cannot be overstated. He shifted humanity from a warrior society to a wisdom society."

    No problem. G.W.Bush corrected that mistake.

  16. copsewood
    IT Angle

    to infinity and beyond

    1. Infinity, e.g. as in the existence of an infinite number of primes, is proven.

    2. Finite sets do not contain infinite sets.

    Therefore a finite Universe isn't all there is. Anyone care to refute this without disconnecting maths from being part of reality ?

  17. TeeCee Gold badge

    Bloody hell.

    Presumably Dan Brown's busily plagiarising all this as fast as he can right now.

    Makes you wonder how he's going to work a murder into it though.

    1. Liam Johnson

      reality

      Maths is an abstraction, it is real, but it isn't identiaclly equal to reality.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have six primes in my pocket

      The kind of 'existing' numbers do is a little different from the kind of existing stones (say) do. Can you think of any physical thing that is infinite?

      (Möbius strips don't count; our interpretation of them adds their only infinity).

      On the other hand, I don't find it hard to believe that there could be infinite things within our universe. Singularities are funny like that.

      Not sure what you hope your sillygism proves, but I'm not seeing a logical path from what you've said to the bearded sky fairy.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Getting a murder in is easy

      >> Makes you wonder how he's going to work a murder into it though.

      Well, it *starts* with Plato getting a gutful of Hemlock, so one would assume that the same fate will befall at least one of the characters. Duh.

    5. Chris Miller

      Depends on interpretation

      A constructivist mathematician might take the view that you haven't actually identified an infinite number of primes (you can't show me a list containing them, or even a way of calculating them all) - only that they are unbounded, i.e. if you give me a prime number, I can always show you a larger one.

      Physicists generally take the view that getting an infinite answer* demonstrates that there's something wrong with your theory.

      * Black holes are where God divided by zero. - Steven Wright

    6. DavCrav Silver badge
      Boffin

      Possible ways of getting round this:

      1. Although there are infinitely many primes (or just infinitely many numbers), only finite collections can be used by computer programs/algorithms, so while the potential number of inputs is infinite the actual number is finite.

      2. The universe is continuous, and hence has 2^{\aleph_0} (i.e., the cardinality of the continuum) "elements" in it (really positions), thus allowing for many more possibilities than the merely countably many you suggest.

      3. The universe has unbounded range. This is a bit dodgy, because if there has only been finite time since the Big Bang the matter in the universe can have reached only a finite distance.

      4. Mathematics provides a model for the universe, but not every mathematical object exists in the universe. (Far worse than infinite sets are inaccessible cardinals, proper classes, etc.)

      1. MonkeyBot
        Boffin

        Title

        "3. The universe has unbounded range. This is a bit dodgy, because if there has only been finite time since the Big Bang the matter in the universe can have reached only a finite distance."

        The matter doesn't need to travel. It will be carried apart by the expansion of the universe and so it can have "reached" anywhere in the universe regardless of the time since the big bang.

  18. Filippo
    Thumb Down

    umm

    I don't get where's the science in all of this, let alone its "reconciliation" with religion. If the point is that mathemathics is so perfect that it must be of divine origin, well, that's exactly the sort of bullshit that causes atheists to feel justified looking down on theists.

    1. copsewood
      IT Angle

      Plato's ideals and shadows

      "If the point is that mathemathics (sic) is so perfect that it must be of divine origin, well, that's exactly the sort of bullshit that causes atheists to feel justified looking down on theists."

      Proving that (aspects of) mathematics either are not contained by material/physical reality or that material reality isn't all there is (assuming the statement above does this) isn't a proof of the divine at all. It simply exposes an interesting contradiction in the "physical materialism is all there is" mindset. I'm sure there are contradictions in all mindsets, including my own, and I doubt it proves anything Plato wasn't aware of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_Forms .

  19. John Savard Silver badge

    Visited the Site

    I was worried, on reading this article, that this fellow had just gone off the deep end.

    However, I see that what he is proposing isn't nearly as bad as, say, The Bible Code, or the codes that prove Bacon wrote Shakespeare. Unfortunately, it may also be harder to falsify because it's less complicated.

    Basically, his theory appears to me to be this: chop Plato's books up into 12 equal parts, assign the 12 notes of the musical scale to them (apparently the ancient Greeks knew about sharps and flats), and ignore the pieces that correspond to sour notes.

    Then, instead of just arguing about in circles, it becomes apparent that Plato actually had some definite opinions, which were kept secret among his initiates.

    Apparently it is more complicated than that, but if one chops up Plato's works into such large pieces, instead of trying to scramble around individual letters, it is at least guaranteed that what is left will actually still make sense. Which, of course, speaks more to a lack of falsifiability than to the truth of the hypothesis in itself, but it should still be possible to determine if these ideas do, in fact, lead to a consistent thread of thought from Plato.

  20. Steven Knox
    Coat

    PhD in Philosophy?

    Shurely, a Philosophy degree is a BS degree?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Kind of says it all

    QUOTE - people will be able to join in without actually having to learn any very hard maths - /QUOTE.

    Kind of like the sad twat who proposes this theory cos he's too thick to do proper maths. I have a friend who talks this about art / glamour / spirituality, hes a twat too,

    1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme
      Thumb Up

      not only BS

      but also redundantly redundant. He's a Doctor of Philosophy in... Philosophy. That's like saying "I'm a dentist but I only work on the various bits inside your mouth."

    2. maartent

      wrong theory

      "assign the 12 notes of the musical scale to them (apparently the ancient Greeks knew about sharps and flats)"

      No they did not.

      In fact, they did not divide the octave in 12 parts, let alone in equal parts (this is a musical & mathematical problem, only to be resolved by compromise).

    3. Baskitcaise

      PhD in Philosophy?

      Steady on or you might cause a philosophers strike!

      Have you thought about the consequences?

      1. The Indomitable Gall

        12 note scales and the Greeks.

        While it is true that the Greeks mostly played with the various modes of the basic diatonic scale, Pythagoras was one of the first to investigate acoustics as a serious discipline. Pythagoras "discovered" the 12 note chromatic scale by calculating the ratio between the root and fifth of the basic scale, and noting that an octave was achieved by simply halfing or doubling the length of a struck pipe. As he completed the circle of fifths, he found he arrived on a 13th note that didn't quite match the 1st note of the scale. This slight discrepancy was known as Pythagoras's Comma, and wasn't resolved by instrument makers until more than two millenia later.

        So while Greeks weren't in the habit of making music with a 12 note scale, Plato would likely have known about the concept.

        The big problem that I have with the description given in the article, though, is this notion of only 12 notes. No melodic instrument I know of has that many notes without having a complete octave.

        Even an instrument with a very restricted range (eg a bagpipe) can usually repeat at least one note in the high octave and low octave, so I would expect any Greek music to include a repeated high/low note, and the system described in the article seems to preclude this.

  22. Dick Emery
    Alien

    If they can't prove you wrong

    You can believe anything you like. If you are a prof with lots of fancy letters after your name all the better since it makes you look legit. Or does it? Indy?

    I'll get my whip and hat.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You get your whip and hat

      And I'll put on my robe and wizard's hat.

      Ooh, you are awful...

  23. Steven Knox
    FAIL

    Wisdom society

    "Plato's importance cannot be overstated. He shifted humanity from a warrior society to a wisdom society. Today our heroes are Einstein and Shakespeare – and not knights in shining armour – because of him."

    O rly? so the "knights in shining armour" that came after Plato were just behind the times? The fact that our society pays people who engage in simulated fighting (acting and sports) significantly more that it pays those in the scientific, academic, and religious fields is simply a measure of the irrelevance of currency rather than practical proof against your absurd notion?

    Humanity is not yet one society, and even the most enlightened society still has heroes that are such simply because they "kicked some ass".

  24. markfiend
    FAIL

    Shorter Jay Kennedy

    "I think that Plato believed in some kind of deity therefore you should too."

    Hmm. Not exactly the most convincing of arguments.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    What?

    Without a rigorous definition that distinguishes "music" from random sequences of sounds (which have successfully been called "music" by composers from antiquity but especially starting in the 1950's), then absolutely any text can be successfully converted to "music" via just about any procedure. Which proves exactly nothing. Am I missing something?

  26. heyrick Silver badge

    Do we get a film...

    ...with Audrey Tautou driving an itty-bitty car around ancient Greece?

  27. Stuart Halliday
    Thumb Up

    Lets do it correctly

    If his claim has merit then let it be published in a reputable publication and be reviewed and tested independently by his peers. This is normal scientific procedure.

    Then they can laugh at him to his face...

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Joke

      A great quote

      There was another "great" quote from Blaise Pascal, i paraphrase it here:

      "I consider belief in god to be like a wager. If god does not exist and you go through life believing in him, you havent really lost anything at the end. But if god does exist and you go through life not believing in him, then you have a lot to lose. So therefore, i think its better to believe in god."

      You have to love such sophistry, dont you?

      1. A J Stiles
        Troll

        What Pascal missed

        (1) Humans have worshipped thousands of deities through the ages. What if you pick the wrong one? Deities are even less keen on worshippers of competitors than they are on atheists.

        (2) Any deity worthy of worship ought to know the difference between a sincere belief and one feigned in order to obtain a reward / avoid punishment.

  28. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Wow

    ""Plato's importance cannot be overstated. He shifted humanity from a warrior society to a wisdom society."

    Pity he didn't mention this to Alcibiades, Xenophon, etc. etc.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bass line revealed

    Sounds suspiciously like "In a gadda da vidda"

  30. John Stirling

    (in)finity

    To answer;

    1. Infinity, e.g. as in the existence of an infinite number of primes, is proven.

    2. Finite sets do not contain infinite sets.

    The set of the digits zero to nine has exactly 10 members, and yet all numbers (an infinite number of them) can be constructed without going outside members of that set.

    Make it the set containing the digits zero to nine and the set containing the period (1 member), and then an infinitely larger than the previously infinitely large number of numbers can be constructed from members of these two sets, both of which have finite (and precisely defined) numbers of members.

    Ok, so it isn't a proof, in fact it's bollocks, but it's AT LEAST as rigorous as the other bollocks.

    For a slightly more rigorous answer to 2 above; yes that is correct, and your fallacy is that the universe does not contain the set of all possible primes, or indeed any infinite set (that we are aware of). It does contain symbols which allow you to manipulate infinite sets, and this (as my counter argument does robustly demonstrate) says precisely nothing about the infinite (or otherwise) scope of our universe.

    IANAMAPOAWOWOWP (I am no a mathematician a philosopher or a wanky old weirdo obsessed with plato)

  31. bothwell

    @TFA

    "For Plato, the beauty and order inherent in mathematical law meant its source was divine (a Pythagorean version of modern deism). Plato may light a middle way through today's culture wars."

    This is hardly new. Just off the top of my head Descartes said the same thing, clearly, without relying on obfuscation. Descartes is commonly recognised as one of the granddaddies of modern science, but I'm not really seeing people rushing to accept the Clockmaker Hypothesis on that basis either.

  32. Anomalous Cowturd
    Paris Hilton

    Thought I'd opened the wrong bookmark!

    You gotta love elReg, and its supposedly ill educated commentards. Where else can you get in-depth discussions of theological and scientific conundrums, alongside PARIS, and Paris?

    I thought I'd stumbled across a link to the general synod...

  33. Big-nosed Pengie

    So how long will it be...

    ...before they post the guitar chords to Plato's Republic in the Internets?

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: So how long will it be...

      It'll probably happen about 6 hours before U2 sue Plato and the entire Internets for piracy.

  34. gimbal
    Black Helicopters

    "Today our heroes are Einstein and Shakespeare" - O rly?

    I thought our heroes, today, were [insert female current pop icon name] and [insert male current pop icon name]. I guess it depends on who you ask, and at what time of day.

  35. John F***ing Stepp

    You know the music is there.

    In a crop circle for instance.

    was on the front cover of a science weekly back before this internet thing.

    (I am old.)

    Concerning the sharps and flats; the 12 tone scale is just built in to us; it is a mathematical construction that hits the human mind like a 'face hugger' from some Alien movie.

    It is always there.

    Scales.

    There are 11 of them (talking like some half assed musician here, I only play a couple of things well). We think Major and relative Minor, just start any music a half note up and you are into another scale.

    You cannot avoid the 12 note scale. . .

    (well yes you can and this gets so damn technical and so damn other culture* and so damn math is hard** that I will just give up now.)

    *NO theater for one.

    **Any other musicologist want to approach this?

    1. The Indomitable Gall
      Linux

      Not my favourite source, but....

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microtonal_music#History

      The 12 tones of a modern instrument are the Windows of the music world. Buggy, never quite right, but everyone else uses it and you've got to be compatible, hey? Alternatives exist, but there's a lack of "software" (tunes) and there's not so wide a market for anyone considering developing any new stuff....

      Penguin, because Linux is dodecatonic. Or something.

  36. Mark Stanbrook

    Are you serious?

    Why is this even news-worthy without any counter-balance? All of these Code systems have debunked over and over and over. In any large enough set of data using an effectively infinite set of encodings you can find anything you wish to find. My favourite debunking:

    '... an ELS analysis on Drosnin's Bible Code II: The Countdown (2002) found the message "The Bible Code is a silly, dumb, fake, false, evil, nasty, dismal fraud and snake-oil hoax."'

  37. ShaggyDoggy

    Pah

    Evolutionist: what about fossils then

    Creationist: God put them there to test ou belief in Him

    Me: God is insecure ?

    To all Intelligent Designists - what's Cancer for then ?

    1. Simpson

      Don't be mad, just because god hates you ShaggyDoggy

      We have a physical universe, where most things behave under specific known rules. But to explain the origin of this universe, we must accept that those rules did not apply to the early moments of our universe.

      For myself, I don't see much difference between "i am" and "the entire universe came from a tiny peice of matter of unknown origin, that exploded"... It's just a louder "I am".

  38. Matthew Gaylard

    Well, yes ... but

    the ancient Greeks were rather marvelous. I'm not sure that what we consider "thinking" today would be possible without them in a way that is not true, for instance, of the modern americans.

  39. ShaggyDoggy

    Simpson - what's that reply got to do with me ?

    I mean, God not liking etc

    Come on man explain yourself

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