≥ Hippasus of Metapontum

Added on by Jessica Gath.


*I have found many other sources since, but my original source was mathematician, Benjamin Stephens

Hippasus of Metapontum was the disciple of Pythagoras to whom is attributed the discovery that √2 is an irrational number, thus proving the existence of irrational numbers. Pythagoras could not disprove the existence of irrational numbers through logic but his beliefs would not allow for them or the implication that all numbers are not ratios of integers and thus absolute. It is also said that after √2 was proven to be irrational the Pythagoreans threw Hippasus of Metapontum into the sea to his death.*


≥Hippasus of Metapontum is an installation in the form of the √2 stenciled on the gallery floor in salt. The number, 1.4142..., begins at the gallery door and loops, ever tighter, as it draws nearer to the center of the gallery. I chose salt as my material because salt crystals are perfect squares and because Hippasus found his end among much salt. The installation asserts that this number (shown in the gallery to 159 digits) was, at his time and in his place, ≥ Hippasus of Metapontum.