HoST Fall 2010

Tues/Thurs. starting at 4:00 in Babio 203

Back to HoST Fall 2010 Syllabus

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This is 2010, not 2011...

This is 2010, not 2011...

This is 2010, not 2011...

This is 2010, not 2011...


Week of 9/21 and 9/23


Assignment 3

Mathematical Harmonic Cosmos & Atoms


Math and Matter


 Updated: 8/31/11 4:20 PM

:::::CAL Article/Conf:Conference files:PowerPoint image collection:7 Liberal Arts from Masi:quadrivium-highlight.jpg

The Quadrivium: Arithmetic, Music, Geometry, and

Astronomy are highlighted in yellow.


For Tues:


Read this essay I wrote on Plato’s “Myth of Er” from the Republic. This story is found in last few pages of the Republic (I posted Cornford’s  translation of this story/myth last week if you want to look at it). NewsomeErsCosmosDraft-2009sm-244KB.pdf.  7pp


Read this paper on the quadrivium Newsome-Quadrivium-8.1.09-4.3MB.pdf  ca.14pp single spaced


Read McClellan and Dorn: pp. 65-78 13pp



For Thurs.


Read Book I, "Matter and Space," in Lucretius’On the Nature of the Universe. (you bought this book for this class). This first book of Lucretius is a bit stiff, but necessary for the rest of the book.  Also the first page or so is rather weird.  Don't let that bother you.  Let your mind create the images he paints.  Free associate.  Draw little diagrams if that is useful. 26pp


New Addition

Here is a PDF of Book I for those who didn't receive their copies yet. 

It's from an older Penguin ed. but it is still Latham's translation.




Citations for the above readings:


Lucretius Carus, Titus, R. E. Latham, and John Godwin. On the Nature of the Universe. Translated by R. E. Latham and with Introduction and Notes by John Godwin. Penguin Classics. New York: Penguin Books, 1994.


McClellan, James E., and Harold Dorn. Science and Technology in World History : An Introduction. Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.


Newsome, Daniel. "Harmonic Structures in Kepler’s World." Excerpt from Draft of Dissertation Chapter, CUNY Graduate Center, 2004.


Newsome, Daniel. "The Math, Music, Metaphysics, and Mysticism of the Quadrivium, The Four Paths to a Theory of Structure." CUNY Graduate Center, 2009.  Publication pending.



Short or Long Essays:  Due Thursday.


Short Essay: Write a full 1-page single-spaced essay on some interesting aspect you find in these readings and/or this site.  Do not write an essay generally describing the overall reading.  Instead, latch onto a particular issue and respond to it. Cite sources. If you have not cited a source you can expect a lower grade pretty much automatically.  Use illustrations or similar if you think it will help. [I want to know what you thought about the materials I assigned.  I want to know what you thought while reading the materials.  I want to know if you found any similarities with other readings too. Engage the readings either generally or in detail.]  If you can think of a way to engage the material using other media or graphics, go for it, but you must still cite sources and make an effort that is roughly the equivalent of at least a 1 to 2 page single-spaced paper.  Reminder: prove to me that you read the readings by engaging them. 

–The Department of Redundancy Department.


Here are some cryptic essay ideas. If these help, great, if they confuse you, ignore them.

Number, harmony, mythology, structure, form, matter, eccentric, epicycle, seasons, diurnal, annual, phases of moon, interval, analogy, metaphor, model of the universe or a calculation tool, spheres and circles, Adam Ant, drinking and smoking and goody two-shoes, weaving, spinning, wool, Homer, astronomy and astrology, soul and intelligence and image and dreams and visions and reality… etc.


Long Essay: Same as the Short essay only double the length and using one extra source listed below.


Advice on how to read: In general I suggest that you jot stuff down in the margins as you read. (Or jot down the page number and a comment on a separate sheet of paper.)  If you think of some movie you saw, jot it down, if you thought of what you had for lunch… jot it down.  Start to let your mind make connections, not just obvious ones, but ones that may be a bit more cryptic.  Generally speaking, this stuff cannot be skimmed.   The devil is generally in the details.  If you are already familiar with a text, skimming it will refresh your memory.  But stuff like Lucretius requires full attention on the first pass otherwise you probably won’t retain much.  Try to have enough time to get into it.  Otherwise it is just painful and/or dull and meaningless.  Then school is a bore and you become a bore and a drone… etc.  School is what you make of it.


Additional materials for a long essay:


- Pp. 33-50 from Navon, Robert. The Pythagorean Writings: Hellenistic Texts from the 1st Cent. B.C.-3d Cent. A.D. On Life, Morality, and the World : Comprising a Selection of the Neo-Pythagorean Fragments, Texts, and Testimonia of the Hellenistic Period, Including Those of Philolaus and Archytas.  Great Works of Philosophy Series; Vol. 3. Kew Gardens, N.Y.: Selene Books, 1986.  Navon-PythagoreanWritingsExcerpts-1.9MB.pdf  If you like the weird numerology, this is for you.


- Bragg, Melvyn. The Music of the Spheres. Audio. London: BBC, 2009.  [45 minutes]  This covers some Pythagorian and Platonic material as well as extensions of this idea into later history.  If you use this, and quote from it, be sure to identify the speaker (as best as you can) and identify where in the recording it can be found.  Here is the BBC site for this episode, with an overview and list of guests: BBC Site-Music of the Spheres.  Here is the mp3 IOT_ The Music of the Spheres.mp3 [19.3MB]. 


-Warren, James. "Lucretius and Greek Philosophy." In The Cambridge Companion to Lucretius, ed. Stuart Gillespie and Philip R. Hardie, 19-32. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007.  Warren-LucretiusGreekPhil-CC.pdf  [3.5MB]  Ties in nicely with our reading from McClellan and Dorn from last week.


-Mathiesen, Thomas J. "Greek Music Theory." In The Cambridge history of Western music theory, ed. Thomas Street Christensen, 109-135. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.  Mathiesen-AncientMusicTheory-Cambridge.pdf [4.4MB]

Lecture parts.


Monochord demo. with PP from Stevens conference.

Er lecture with spinning movies ... see PP I made on this...


Interesting Sciencey News


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Counting roadkill: Wollan-Mapping Traffic's Toll in Wildlife-NYTimes




A fireball hangs over the desert. Tanks, jeeps and other test vehicles liter the desert floor milliseconds before the force of the

explosion destroys them. Though hard to see just below the bottom of the fireball, a cresent-shaped shock wave has bounced

off the desert floor and is merging into the expanding nuclear fire.

from "How to Photograph an Atomic Bomb"


Broad- The Bomb Chroniclers-NYTimes- The people who filmed the first atomic blasts... new footage.

--Mr. Yoshitake recalled documenting what a fiery explosion did to pigs — whose skin resembles that of humans.

“Some were still squealing,” he said. “You could smell the meat burning. It made you sick.

I thought, ‘Oh, how terrible. If they were humans they would have suffered terribly.’ ”--

[Daniel: Does this imply that pigs don't suffer?  Back to the difference between humans and animals.]




Here is a book review of Hawking's newest book, The Grand Design.  link


Back to HoST Fall 2010 Syllabus


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Added 10/18/2010

Exam notes:


-Plato's "Myth of Er"

-the mathematical arts

-Eudoxus' cosmos

-Aristotle's Elemental Theory

-recall monochord demo and tetractys relationships

-Lucretius Book I

Here is a PDF of the PowerPoint for Plato's Cosmos: PlatoCosmos-HoSTF10-Review.pdf [6.4MB]