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Friday, June 18, 2010

Music and codebreaking

Joanne Jacobs has a post on "Music students excel in algebra" over at her education blog. The connection between music and math is hardly new, of course. Pythagoras was all about that. I commented:

The USS California was one of the ships sunk in the attack on Pearl Harbor, and her crew was parceled out to whatever units needed manpower. The members of the ship’s band were assigned to the Navy’s codebreaking unit because, by coincidence, the number of band members matched the number of men requested. Fortunately they were very successful at their new job. Apparently, many of the skills transferred.

By the way, ship's band is not a full-time job. Except for the higher-ranking officers and specialists, like the ship's doctor, there are no fulltime jobs. Sailors do different jobs depending on the situation. When "Battle Stations!" is announced, cooks may man antiaircraft guns, and band members join damage-control parties.

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