Pythagorean Dribble Glasses

The diagram shows how a Pythagorean cup works. It’s a thinking person’s dribble glass, sort of. The cup, pan, and ladle in the photo is a yuza no ki. Both are gadgets used for teaching moderation.

The yuza no ki is in the Ashikaga District, 足利郡, in the Tochigi Prefecture. It hasn’t been since around 1896. Ashiga District, that is. Not officially.

The cup might be.

Again, it’s a learning tool. Empty, it’s tilted. Pour a little water in, and it goes upright. Pour in more, and it tilts again.

Pythagoras of Samos lived about 25 centuries back. Scholars seem to accept the idea that Pythagoras was a real person, although stories about him don’t add up any better than those about Homer. (July 7, 2017)

Pythagoras generally gets credit for showing how the Pythagorean theorem works. Or maybe it was someone in Mesopotamia, India, or China.

The Pythagorean theorem says the square of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the squares of the other two sides of a right triangle. Tweak it a bit, and it’ll describe similar relations in non-Euclidean space and n-dimensional solids.

Pythagorean Cups

Non-Euclidean geometry may have given H. P. Lovecraft fits, or not, and that’s another topic.

Depending on who’s talking, Pythagoras invented the Pythagorean cup as a practical joke, or to teach moderation.

I don’t see why he couldn’t have had both in mind, which reminds me of St. Philip Neri, and that’s yet another topic.

Apparently Hero of Alexandria used Pythagorean cups in his robotic systems.

That’s probably a reference to Heron’s fountain. Heron is another version of Hero’s name, yet again another topic.

Let’s try this again.

A Pythagorean cup is a dribble glass. It’s a cup with a column in the middle. The column is hollow, with a little pipe inside, and a hole near its base.

The cup works fine, as long as you don’t fill it past the top of the inside pipe. If you do, Pascal’s principle of communicating vessels kicks in, and the cup’s contents pour out the bottom.

Soren Sorensen Adams (re-)invented the dribble glass. His other contributions to Western civilization include the snake nut can and joy buzzer.

Pascal’s principle of communicating vessels is also called Pascal’s law. Pascal’s rule about binomial coefficients is something else. You probably don’t need, and may not want, to memorize all that stuff.

Blaise Pascal didn’t draft Pascal’s law the way Robert A. Taft and Fred A. Hartley, Jr., sponsored the Taft-Hartley Act. That’s — you guessed it, more topics. (March 24, 2017)

Now, finally, here’s the point of this post.

Moderation is a good idea.

3 There is nothing better for man than to eat and drink and provide himself with good things by his labors. Even this, I realized, is from the hand of God.

“For who can eat or drink apart from him?”
(Eccelsiastes 2:2425)

Enjoying Life: Within Reason

If that doesn’t sound “Biblical,” I’m not surprised.

Many of America’s assumptions and attitudes about faith tend toward the “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” style. The ones I run into, at any rate.

I’ve talked about Jonathan Edwards and Mark Twain before. Also Hippocrates and health. (May 12, 2017; March 5, 2017)

Temperance, the Catholic version, isn’t steadfastly refusing to enjoy life. “Blessed are the miserable, for they shall spread misery” is not in the Beatitudes. (July 10, 2016)

God creates a good world. Enjoying what’s here, within reason, is a good idea. The trick is remembering that ‘I want it’ doesn’t always mean ‘I should have it.’ We should think before acting. (Genesis 1:31; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 17621770, 1809)

Not-entirely-unrelated posts:

About Brian H. Gill

I’m a sixty-something married guy with six kids, four surviving, in a small central Minnesota town. I mostly write and make digital art. I’m only interested in three things: that which exists within the universe; that which exists beyond; and that which might exist.

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