Cattle of the Sun
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|Ivars Peterson (MathTrek)|
|The story goes that Archimedes of Syracuse (287-212 B.C.) was annoyed with Apollonius of Perga (262-190 B.C.), who had criticized Archimedes' work on the multiplication of large numbers. For revenge, Archimedes devised a fiendish computational problem that involved truly immense numbers. He proposed the problem in the form of a 44-line poem, and he sent it in a letter to Eratosthenes of Cyrene (275-195 B.C.), the chief librarian at Alexandria... The poem begins: "If thou art diligent and wise, O stranger, compute the number of cattle of the Sun, who once upon a time grazed on the fields of the Thrinacian isle of Sicily, divided into four herds of different colors, one milk white, another a glossy black, a third brown, and the last dappled."|
|Levels:||Middle School (6-8), High School (9-12), College|
|Resource Types:||Problems/Puzzles, Articles|
|Math Topics:||Equations, Large Numbers, History and Biography, Literature/Poetry|
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