There’s a story about Pythagoras, the ancient Greek philosopher, in which he’s walking through a marketplace listening to the sweet clangity-clang of hammers on metal, and he notices that some of the hammers sound good together, and others sound like crap. So he does the only logical next thing; stops the blacksmiths and weighs their hammers (and despite this being Ancient Greece, that’s not a euphemism). What he found was that pleasant sounds came from two hammers with simple, whole-number ratios between their weights, like 1/2 or 8/9.
When I first learned this, to be honest, it completely freaked me out. For a concept like numbers, which I imagine was originally developed for stuff like keeping track of children and sheep, to have a real effect on something as disparate and abstract as the pleasantness of a sound, still seems to me like one of life’s most mind-blowing mysteries.
It’s in the spirit of this awesomeness that Voyages of Discovery IV explores the connection between mathematics and music. On November 2nd at the Lensic, the Santa Fe Institute and the SF Symphony present a unique, multimedia symphony of science.
Mathematician and computer scientist Dr. Cris Moore speaks on the topic, while an expansive overhead presentation adds a visual component to the grand musical selections conducted by David Felberg.
Voyages of Discovery IV
7:30 pm Saturday, November 2nd. $22-$76
The Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 West San Francisco St.,