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It has been a while since I last blogged, so here is something funny that I learned today while listening to Relatively Prime:

Matt Parker took it upon himself to debunk junk science related to precise geometry choices by Ancient People. The particular junk piece that triggered his analysis was the assertion of a prehistoric navigation system. However, you may not be familiar with it, but you may have heard terms like “holy geometry” and the like to prove that some Ancient tribe either held some technology now long gone or was in contact with some alien race. But do they really stand?

So Matt, took it upon himself to analyse the locations of the Woolworths in order to figure out whether they had some “outer” help in choosing their store locations:

The results revealed an exact and precise geometric placement of the Woolworths locations. Three stores around Birmingham formed an exact equilateral triangle (Wolverhampton, Lichfield and Birmingham stores) and if the base of the triangle is extended, it forms a 173.8 mile line linking the Conwy and Luton stores. Despite the 173.8 mile distance involved, the Conway Woolworths store is only 40 feet off the exact line and the Luton site is within 30 feet.  All four stores align with an accuracy of 0.05%

So there, proof! Aliens helped them :) Plus, sometimes you need to remind people that 3 points always make a triangle, no coincidence there.

You can read the whole analysis here thanks to the Internet Archive. Given enough data, if you’re looking for a pattern, you’re going to find it I guess.

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Here is a really cool podcast by Professor Marcus du Sautoy with commentary by Brian Eno and Roger Penrose among others. The podcast episodes start from Newton and Leibniz and end with Nicolas Bourbaki.