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GEOMETRY MEETS ARTS IN MEDIEVAL ISLAMIC TILE

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    GEOMETRY MEETS ARTS IN MEDIEVAL ISLAMIC TILE Associated Press 2/22/07 http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/discoveries/2007-02-22-islamic-tiles_x.htm?csp=34
    Message 1 of 1 , May 5, 2007
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      GEOMETRY MEETS ARTS IN MEDIEVAL ISLAMIC TILE
      Associated Press
      2/22/07
      http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/discoveries/2007-02-22-islamic-tiles_x.htm?csp=34


      WASHINGTON (AP) — Those wondrously intricate tile mosaics that adorn
      medieval Islamic architecture may cloak a mastery of geometry not
      matched in the West for hundreds of years.

      Historians have long assumed that sheer hard work with the equivalent
      of a ruler and compass allowed medieval craftsmen to create the ornate
      star-and-polygon tile patterns that cover mosques, shrines and other
      buildings that stretch from Turkey through Iran and on to India.

      Now a Harvard University researcher argues that more than 500 years
      ago, math whizzes met up with the artists and began creating far more
      complex tile patterns that culminated in what mathematicians today
      call "quasi-crystalline designs."

      Quasicrystal patterns weren't demonstrated in the West until the 1970s.

      "It shows us a culture that we often don't credit enough was far more
      advanced than we ever thought," contends Harvard graduate student
      Peter J. Lu, who studied the question after a vacation in Uzbekistan
      left him marveling at the tilework.

      This isn't run-of-the-mill geometry. Quasi-crystals are made by
      fitting together a set of shapes, including five- and 10-sided shapes,
      into patterns that, unlike typical tile floors, don't repeat.

      In Friday's edition of the journal Science, Lu and Princeton physicist
      Paul Steinhardt report finding a set of polygon-shaped tiles — a
      decagon, pentagon, diamond, bowtie and hexagon — that were arranged
      into distinctive patterns found on major Islamic buildings from the
      12th through 15th centuries.

      Examining architectural scrolls that were essentially training manuals
      for the time period, he found hand-drawn outlines of the five shapes.
      And when he combed through thousands of photos of medieval Islamic
      buildings, he found that same set of shapes increasingly used over the
      years to make ever-more complex patterns, including a seemingly true
      quasicrystal by 1453.

      It's not the first time such a link has been suggested.

      But if it's right, "this would be a hitherto undiscovered episode in
      the spectacular developments of geometry in central Islamic lands ...
      achieved by artisans probably inspired by theoretical mathematicians,"
      said Islamic art specialist Oleg Grabar.

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