Author Archives: jtolpin

Geometry in Time for the Holidays

In the spirit of the holidays, let’s perform some simple, ancient geometry to create the iconic symbols of the two religions celebrating major holidays this month. You’ll need only a compass, a straightedge, a piece of paper and a couple … Continue reading

Posted in From Truths to Tools, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Divide This!

…says the Italian renaissance astronomer Galileo Galilei to a young student as he demonstrates a pair of proportional dividers. So how do these ingenious scaling devices work? The answer is embedded in the geometry of the sectioning of a circle. … Continue reading

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Solving Spans with Sticks, Strings, Sightlines & Stones

In this excerpt from our book, “From Truths to Tools,” we show how the carpenter/geometers of antiquity used the simplest of tools – those mentioned with almost annoying alliteration in the title – to solve for an unknown distance.    … Continue reading

Posted in From Truths to Tools, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Its OK to Think Inside the Box

                  Yes it’s fine to think inside the box for a change, especially when there’s no need to think at all! At least not if your goal is to divide the box … Continue reading

Posted in From Truths to Tools | 3 Comments

What to Touch with a 10′ Pole

Once upon a time, 10′ poles were a tool common to a number of trades including linemen and cemetery workers. What they touched with their 10′ poles – high-voltage power lines and corpses respectively – is not something most people … Continue reading

Posted in From Truths to Tools, Uncategorized | 8 Comments

As Aequus as Aqua

Or, translated from the Latin: “As Level as Water.” As we explored ancient layout tools at length in “From Truths to Tools,” it became quite clear that the artisans of antiquity were no dummies. For example, we see from their … Continue reading

Posted in From Truths to Tools, Uncategorized | 10 Comments

I Don’t Use These as a Rule

Well that’s not entirely true, of course. I do use them when I need to make up a cut list from a full-scale drawing or story stick to tell a machine in numerical code (be it metric, Imperial or shaku) … Continue reading

Posted in From Truths to Tools, Uncategorized | 8 Comments