# Counting with Count Von Count

I know that this is not the correct place for a doodle dedicated to Count Von Count but five years ago this doodle was published to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street. I watched it when I was a child I and I loved Count Von Count who taught children to count. Do you remembere it? There were thunders and lightnings after each number!

# Shakuntala Devi’s doodle

Shakuntala Devi (November 4, 1929 – April 21, 2013) was a mental calculator who travel around the World showing her arithmetic talent.

According to Wikipedia:

Examples of the problems presented to Devi included calculating the cube root of 61,629,875, and the seventh root of 170,859,375. […] Devi provided the solution to the aforementioned problems (395 and 15, respectively) before [prof. Arthur] Jensen could copy them down in his notebook.

In the 1982 Guinness Book of Records is mentioned that on June 18, 1980, she demonstrated the multiplication of two 13-digit numbers—7,686,369,774,870 × 2,465,099,745,779—picked at random by the Computer Department of Imperial College, London. She correctly answered 18,947,668,177,995,426,462,773,730 in 28 seconds.

This doddle was published last year to commemorate Devi’s 84th birthday in a lot of countries of the World.

# Babbage’s Difference Machine No. 1

This is not going to be the only post dedicated to Babbage in the Science Museum. I’ve visited this museum in my birthday and I am going to write some posts about the mathematical section. However, the first thing that I saw after the exhibition about Turing is this Babbage’s Difference Machine No. 1.

This trial portion of the Difference Engine is one of the earliest automatic calculators and is a celebrated icon in the prehistory of the computer.

Charles Babbage was a brillant thinker and mathematician. He divised the Difference Engine to automate the production of error-free mathematical tables. In 1823 he secured 1500 pounds from the government and shortly afterwards he hired the engineer Joseph Clement.

The Difference Engine was designed to perform fixed operations automatically. During its development Babbage’s mind leapt forward to the design of the Analytical Engine, which using punched cards could be programmed to calculate almost any function. This design embodied almost all the conceptual elements of the modern electronic computer.

The project collapsed in 1833 when Clement downed tools. By then, the government had spent over 17.000 pounds to build the machine -equivalent to the price of two warships. The collapse of the venture was traumatic for Babbage and, in old age, he became embittered and disillusioned.

Historians have suggested that the design was beyond the capability of contemporany technology and would have required greater accuracy than contemporany engineering could have provided. However, recent research has shown that Clement’s work was adequate to create a functioning machine. In fact, the scheme founderer on issues of economics, politics, Babbage’s temperament and his style of directing the enterprise.

** Location**: Science Museum in London (map)

# The Pitt Rivers Museum

The Pitt Rivers Museum cares for the University of Oxford’s collection of anthropology and world archaeology. It is next to the Oxford University Museum of Natural History which was closed in August and it was very surprising for me and also for my kids (I think it’s an idela museum for children!).

There are some interesting mathematical objects in the collection and I am going to list some of them. First of all, we must focus our interest in the showcase dedicated to “counting”:

There are some old counting strings:

and this “swampan”:

“Swampan” or calculating board with sliding beads, used in casting accounts. The two upper balls on each bar = 5 each, the lower balls = units, similar to the roman abacus. China.

There also is the typical “soroban” which is next to a icture of a Roman abacus and in the upper right corner of the next picture:

“Soroban” or calculating board for casting accounts, similar to and derived from the Chinese “swampan”. Japan.

There is also a picture of a “quipu”.

There also are astrolabes and clocks. For example, there are a brass astrolabe dated in 1673 and sme interesting portable sundials:

Finally there is some showcases dedicated to games, dice, chess,… in the upper floor:

Before finishing this post, look at the next picture and try to guess who is this great man:

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History was closed but it was possible to walk around the inner yard and it was possible to see one of the famous statues dedicated to the great scientific men. So it was possible to take a photography of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz!

**Location**: Pitt Rivers Museum (map)

# Two traders counting money

Here we have the representation of two traders counting coins with a balance above them. This is a little picture that you can find in the building located in Nygade Street nr 1 in Copenhagen.

**Location**: Nygade 1 (map)

# A capital in Doge’s Palace in Venice

Doge’s Palace in Piazza San Marco is one of the most touristic attractions of Venice. The palace (XIVth c.) is very beaytiful and there is a hidden mathematical secret in one of the capitals of its columns. The capitals of the columns of the palace are dedicated to some biblical passages, quotidian Medieval scenes and… there is one capital dedicated to the Liberal Arts! So we can find here our famous three most representative figures of the Arithmetic, the Geometry and the Astronomy:

Pythagoras is counting money and next to his coins we can read the number 1399 and Euclid has a compass in one of his hands. The column is the first one next to the corner in front of the sea:

You must see this column in Venice!

**Location**: Piazza San Marco (map)