Professor reveals Mozart and Moby Dick’s surprising mathematical references
A MATHS specialist has uncovered some surprising ways Mozart and Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, used arithmetic in their work.
Although Moby-Dick is considered a literary classic, did you know that it is full with mathematical metaphors? That was discovered by mathematician and Professor Sarah Hart, the first female professor of mathematics and Head of Mathematics and Statistics at Birbeck University of London.
“Herman Melville, he really liked mathematics, and when he’s searching for an allusion or a metaphor, he’ll frequently pick a mathematical one!” she stated during her discussion, Mathematical Journeys Into Fictional Worlds.
Captain Ahab compliments Pip the cabin boy with essentially geometry at the end of the novel, saying, “True art thou lad, as he circumference to its centre.”
According to the Mirror, Sarah even wrote a paper called “Ahab’s Arithmetic: The Mathematics of Moby-Dick” to establish her case.
She feels that author Herman Melville received a “unusually good mathematical education” and that, based on his work, he must have appreciated mathematics and mathematical ideas.
But where does Mozart fit into this picture?
Sarah didn’t stop at Moby-Dick; throughout her investigation, she discovered that the violin duet in Mozart’s “Der Spiegel” exhibits rotational symmetry.
It’s basically played by two violinists sitting across a table, one playing from the beginning to the end and the other from the end to the beginning. The piece’s German name, ‘the mirror,’ is also extremely appropriate.
“So the notes played by the first player are the same as those played by the second player, just turned through 180 degrees,” Sarah Hart told The New York Times.
It’s reasonable to claim that mathematics is present in everything, including literature and music, but we’ll leave it to geniuses like Sarah Hart to make those discoveries.
Emily Sleight contributed additional reporting.