21 Dec 2015 Joey Grether and the Map to Multiplication attributed to Nikola Tesla

I was noticing the vast amount of traffic here for the blogs I posted pertaining to the Multiplication Table that a CBS News article stated came from a recent find of Nikola Tesla papers.  I thought it pertinent to revisit this topic and share a new article I found.

After  reading this article from disclosetv: http://www.disclose.tv/news/longlost_nikola_tesla_drawings_reveal_genius_map_for_multiplication/125599 , it seems like Joey was merely deciphering the discovered diagram.  He was not the author of the diagram.  Read this and then I’ve posted the complete article where Joey explains developing his multiplication teaching tools. There is no mention of the Tesla diagram find in the article.  

Long-Lost Nikola Tesla Drawings Reveal Genius Map For Multiplication – Disclose tv article

“A recently discovered set of original Nikola Tesla drawings reveal a map to multiplication that contains all numbers in a simple to use system. The drawings were discovered at an antique shop in central Phoenix Arizona by local artist, Abe Zucca. They are believed to have been created during the last years of Tesla’s Free Energy lab, Wardenclyffe. The manuscript is thought to contain many solutions to unanswered questions about mathematics.The Sketches were hidden in a small trunk with numerous other drawings and manuscripts ranging from hand-held technological devices to free-energy systems, many with notes scrawled all over them. Some of the pieces are already familiar to the public, but a few others are not. Most notably is the Map to Multiplication or the Math Spiral. Zucca made a few copies and showed the drawings around to different thinkers, dreamers, and mathematicians.A few days later a Local High School Mathematics Instructor, Joey Grether, had been working on deciphering the system and had a few breakthroughs. Grether suggests that the Spiral not only explores Multiplication as an interwoven web, but that it, “offers a comprehensive visual understanding of how all numbers are self-organized into 12 positions of compositability.”“This device allows us to see numbers as patterns, the formation of prime numbers, twin primes, Highly composite numbers, multiplication and division, as well as few other systems, I imagine, that are yet to be discovered.”The diagram itself is very intuitive, allowing students to see how numbers all work together based on a spiral with 12 positions. 12, or 12x (multiples of 12) is the most highly composite system, which is why we have 12 months in a year, 12 inches in a foot, 24 hours in a day, etc. 12 can be divided by 2, 3, 4, and 6. So can all multiples of 12. For every 12 numbers there is a chance of 4 numbers being prime. They happen to fall in positions (think clock positions) 5, 7, 11, and 1.Tesla is known for the quote “If you only knew the magnificence of the 3, 6 and 9, then you would have the key to the universe.” It turns out that when the device is examined, the digital roots of the numbers in positions 3, 6, 9, and 12 constantly repeat the same sequence 3, 6, 9! Is this what Tesla was referring too? The self-organization of numbers and their digital roots?Its hard to say, but Grether seems to think so. “This breakthrough is phenomenal. If we could get students all over the globe to use this technique, to play with it, and help figure out how to use it, we could overcome our cultural aversion to Mathematics. Instead of memorizing the multiplication table, we could learn the positions of numbers and have a better understanding of how they work.”Juan Zapata, One of Mr. G’s students believes so as well… “I used to say I’m bad at Math… cause thats what everyone says, but now, I’m like, dude, this is too easy.”Theres one other fact about the Tesla Spiral that make it interesting. The diagram is dated 12/12/12! 1912. Grether and his students want to turn December 12 into a national holiday. So grab a 12 pack, get a dozen donuts, and celebrate the power of 12x ( via cbsnews.com.co ). READ MORE: http://www.disclose.tv/news/longlost_nikola_tesla_drawings_reveal_genius_map_for_multiplication/125599

So here is where I get confused.

Here is the article featuring Joey Grether from moebiusnoodles.com from 10 July 2014 where he talks about this table.  He doesn’t mention the Tesla papers find and it seems like he gradually came up with this on his own.  Confusing right?!  When were the Tesla documents found – what does “recent” mean?  I haven’t seen an actual date given for the discovery.  Was the discovery prior to this article on Grether?  If you know, please comment! 

http://www.moebiusnoodles.com/2014/07/12x-spiral-factorization-diagram/

1001 Leaders: Exploring the spiral multiplication table

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Today, our guest is Joey Grether, an unbridled idealist, parent, and teacher. His journey to math play with kids started with designing tools and devices. Have you ever wondered how Montessori designed all the activities with her beads, or how Cuisenaire came up with the base ten rods? Here is Joey’s story about a colorful multiplication wheel that helps children and their adults explore factorization and primes. You can see how the ideas for student activities come up as a grown-up is playing, exploring, and designing.

In our 1001 Circles series, we feature math circles stories from the point of view of a circle leader, who acts as an invisible tour guide. In 1001 Leaders, the companion series to our 1001 Circles, we put the spotlight on the leaders themselves. What got them started and what keeps them going? What are their math dreams and worries? If you lead a math circle, an engineering club, or an informal playgroup, we would like to hear your story or interview you. Write moby@moebiusnoodles.com to talk about your adventures.


Hi there. I am a high school substitute teacher, graphic designer, and parent, with a degree in Cultural Anthropology. I have an 11 year old and a 3 year old. When the 3 year old was a little younger, I decided to work on a project that would combine numbers and letters. I sketched and struggled for a few weeks. One day I was impatiently waiting for something, looking at the clock as I was dividing up the letters for my project. I realized that if I combined the most used triads, ABC and XYZ, I could fit the rest of the letters in pairs around the clock. Once I did that, I knew how to fit other ideas into the circle: months, degrees, seasons, moon cycles, elements, the color wheel, and the music scale. I called the device The Learning Flower.

We have a lot of magnetic toys and puzzles around the house, so I made the Learning Flower into a vinyl magnet project. You can take apart the petals, and put them together again in a round cookie sheet. My 3 year old, Indara, would play with it on and off. Observing her and listening to other parents’ feedback, I made a simpler device with just colors, numbers, and letters. Indara seems to understand that one a bit better, because its middle disk supplies a picture for her to model. Here is a photo of another toddler playing with it, from a review at Tog&Glam blog.

Learning Flower

I was showing the Learning Flower to friends. Some asked me where the math was, and I was kinda thrown back, thinking – math? This tool got 8 overlapping sets of symbols! Why add more? But then I tried anyway. It led me to develop a more complex device, adding days of the week, the periodic elements, and two more layers of numbers. As I played with the clock positions on my screen, patterns slowly began to stick out to me. First I noticed that 15 and 27 were in the 3 o’clock position, then that other numbers there were multiples of 3 too. Hmm… four positions (3, 6, 9, 12) contained multiples of 3, looking like a square. I started tracing other multiples. Then I saw multiples of 4 forming a triangle in positions 4, 8, and 12. Multiples of 2 make a hexagon.

I sketched out the first 12 dozen numbers in a 12-position spiral, using the same positions of the clock. I then tried tracing the multiples of 2, 3 and 4. I noticed there were numbers that just were not part of the first few multiples. I worked on the diagram for several more days, fascinated by the simple patterns. I underlined the numbers that were not a part of the 2, 3, and 4 multiples systems. It turned out that they were primes. The rest of the numbers were prime! And as crazy as it sounds, this realization of how primes are distributed around the 12 positions hit me on 12/12/12! Were all numbers in these positions prime? Mostly. I checked prime lists online to be sure, and all were, except 25, 35, 49, 55, 65, 121… that is, the multiples of 5, 7, 11, and 13. The patterns began to feel more comprehensive.

Since then, I have been developing the device, trying to understand it, sharing it, and presenting it. I started calling it The Number Spiral, but people confused it with the Ulam Prime spirals. On different versions of posters, I call it Number Patterns, 12x Spiral, Web of Compositability, The Symmetry of Divisibility, and Grethers Spiral. Which name do you like the most? My pick and the name of my site is 12x Spiral, because it implies the design.

Why do numbers work like that? As I played with the 12x Spiral, I have developed a theory. For me, and for students using the 12x Spiral, answering that question is the most useful aspect of the device. It leads to figuring out where numbers are placed in each of the 12 positions, by combing the divisibility rules. Every number has a place, and if we can figure out that place, we can figure out what the number’s divisors are. Here are just some of the patterns students can explore while trying to answer that one Why question!

The theory is that numbers are self-organized around the smallest, most highly composite number, 12. The number 12 and many of its multiples (24, 36, 48, 60, etc.) are HCNs: highly composite numbers (with lots of divisors), which are extremely useful for measuring and proportions. Why are there 12 eggs in a carton, 12 inches in a foot, 12 months in a year, 24 hours in a day, 360 degrees in a circle, 60 seconds in minute? Because highly composite numbers can be divided evenly in many ways. For each 12 numbers in one ring around the spiral, there are 4 candidates to be prime. I started calling the 4 positions where these candidates reside the prime fields: positions 1, 5, 7, and 11. When two prime numbers are separated by just one composite number, such as 5 and 7, 17 and 19, or 29 and 31, we call them twin primes.

Here is another way to look at the prime fields. Recall the hexagon, square, and triangle that are the shapes of 2x, 3x, and 4x. The prime fields sit next to the vertical line between the positions of 6 and 12 o’clock, which is the shape of 6x. In other words, all numbers in the prime fields are either 1 higher or 1 lower than a multiple of 6. We also understand this as the equation 6x +/- 1 that, for natural x’s, works for all primes other than 2 and 3 (though not all results of the equation are prime). I found this equation online while I was researching prime number theory.

I like to draw these spirals in chalk or make wall murals. I tried this activity first with my kids, then as math workshops with their friends. I just start drawing a spiral, and color-coding the 12 positions. I make the spirals large, because kids love to run to clock positions or particular numbers when they seek patterns. As the spiral grows, students begin to see where numbers and colors belong. They jump in to help color and draw, making the mural bigger and bigger. You can also use found materials. Once we raked rocks in a dirt lot into a spiral. We invited kids to walk to its center, and to lay out rocks in a triangle shape (like bowling pins) to show more number patterns. Once you start drawing or building a spiral project, it can inspire many math and art extensions.

Now that we are looking at number relationships and tracing the web of multiples, we can explore more complex patterns. For example, let us define a way for numbers to intersect one another. Say, 55 is a product of just two numbers, 5 and 11. Looking at the spiral, mark the multiples of 5, that is, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25… Connect the numbers with lines. They will form a beautiful star. Now follow the multiples of 11, that is, 11, 22, 33, 44, 55… They form a spiral. The star and the spiral intersect at 55 and then at 110. Try it with other primes: observe how the stars and spirals of the numbers 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, and 13 intersect one another.  The stars and spirals relate to spirolaterals and Waldorf multiplication stars, but are also different, so you can explore them separately.

Here is another bridge to number theory, made visible by the 12x Spiral. When only two prime numbers are multiplied, or a prime is squared, we get semi-primes such as 35=5×7 or 49=7×7. The first non-prime exemption in the prime field is 25, which is a semi-prime, because it’s 5 squared. Want to know a neat pattern about primes squared? Find the first few on the 12x Spiral: 4, 9, 25, 49, 121. Starting from 5 squared, they all fall into the 1 o’clock position! In other words, all primes squared (besides 2 and 3) equal 12x + 1. Is it always true? How can you make sure without checking all the infinitely many primes?

Parents and math circle leaders who want to have a casual, easy math experience can start with checking the patterns of multiples. If you want to work with kids, draw the 12x Spiral with them! Or you can print the activity page I have created. Young kids can color, and older students can name each number’s divisors. The 12x Spiral poster is more of a reference, a way to invite math into the homes of kids.

Follow the multiples of 2, 3, and 4. See how their patterns become predictable. Then explore 8x, 9x, and 10x. For a more advanced task, seek links between patterns. For example, 5 and 17 are in the same position, next to one another. Are the patterns 5x and 17x linked? Let us find out! 5×2 and 17×2 are again in the same position, 2 rings apart. Look at 5×3 and 17×3. The same position once more, this time 3 rings apart. Ha. Awesome!

You can find patterns like this through simple, quick sketches. I would like people to get comfortable drawing this model, sharing it, thinking about it, and so, helping develop it! It doesn’t matter if our work is perfect, what matters is if we learn from doing it.

Up to now, we looked at positions to find numbers. The inverse game is more challenging: pick random numbers, and dial them in to the correct position on the spiral. The kids will eventually discover the strategy of using the divisibility rules (see below). For example, your number is 180. It is even (divisible by 2). Cut in half, and the result is still even (180/2=90): this means 180 is divisible by 4. The sum of digits 1 + 8 + 0 = 9, so 180 is divisible by 3. Since it’s divisible by 3 and 4, it’s also divisible by 12, and so it is in the 12 o’clock position. Do it for your birth date, your address, the current year 2014, whatever. Once you become more familiar with placing numbers into the web of compositibility, you will know their divisors at a glance.

Here are the rules of divisibility useful for these games. Knowing these rules, any number can be placed into one of the 12 positions on the spiral.

  • If the last digit is even, the number is divisible by 2.
  • Multiples of 3 have the sum of the digits divisible by 3.
  • Halve a multiple of 4, and the result is even.
  • If a number is divisible by 3 and 4, it is also divisible by 12.

The more you can understand how numbers relate, the easier it is to process them in your head. Say, you need 187 inches of 2×4 for a wall, but the store only sells it by the foot. How many inches do you need to add? How many feet will you need to buy? If you can visualize where the numbers belong, you know 187 is on the ring that is starts at 180 and ends at 192 in the 12 o’clock position. So you’ll need 192 inches, which divided by 12 gives you 16 feet. Many things use 12x as their systems of measure. If you go on a scavenger hunt, you will find examples such as 72 pixels per inch image resolution, or 12 packs of soda with 12 ounces each.

I have recently figured out how to make a simpler game. Print out the 12x Spiral poster for a visual reference, or draw the spiral using the first 36 numbers. Now take a pair of dice, roll them, multiply the numbers, and see how the result fits into the spiral. For example, if you roll 4 and 5, put the first die on the number 4 on the spiral. Now skip-count around the spiral by fours, as many times as the second die shows – in this case, five times: 4, 8, 12, 16, 20. There you are! 4 times 5 is 20. Another example: you got 3 and 6. Put the first die on the number 3. Skip-count from it around the spiral by threes, six times: 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18.

I’m sure there are many more ways to use the 12x Spiral, but I can’t figure them all out just by myself! Want to join? For more exploration, prompt students to look for patterns, try to draw some patterns of their own, or see what they notice about individual numbers. On that note, I am still developing this project and noticing new patterns. I am open to any and all ideas. Your and your children’s feedback will be greatly appreciated!

I believe the national math standard is to have 5 year olds know the first 10 numbers. What if I could get 5 year olds to know their number patterns (multiples) all the way up to 12×12? I think I can, but I need some support. The project is all about improving math literacy, and inspiring people to quit saying, “I’m no good at math, or art, or whatever.” Personally, I would love to teach kids that have rejected or are rejected by schools. It seems kind of ridiculous to me, but so far I have had a hard time getting people to understand and appreciate this project. Even educators seem hesitant to introduce the 12x Spiral. I think it’s because this is so new, while curricula are planned out months in advance and handed down from within the bureaucracy.

I would love to travel the world teaching any student of any age the web of compositability – with chalk murals, wall murals, or rocks even. I think this model is more useful than any multiplication table based purely on memorization. The 12x Spiral combines the multiplication table and the Sieve of Eratosthenes, allowing students to see how all numbers work together as patterns. It could resurrect many people’s interest in numbers, patterns, and math. If that’s too much to ask the universe at this time, I would just like more students to try it out. Maybe I could get a curriculum developing grant, or just sell a few posters to get young minds to explore the patterns. My ultimate lifelong dream is to run a 24/7 cultural recreation center.

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6 comments on “21 Dec 2015 Joey Grether and the Map to Multiplication attributed to Nikola Tesla

  1. well perhaps itsn’t a work by Tesla but perhaps it was in mind of the creator of ishango bone, one of other things that i see on isahngo bone it is the prime quadruplets 11 13 17 19 the prime quadruplets are separated in 30x, then the next quadruplet 101 103 107 109 sums 120 120 120 120 with 19 17 13 11, in ishango bone there are 3 groups of numbers one group has 11 13 17 19 other group sums 60 too but with 11 21 9 19 and the group in the middle has 3 6 4 8 10 5 5 7 then sums 48, 60 60 and 48 are 12×5 12×5 and 12×4, i draw compositions of the 25 primes between 11 and 109 in a complementary or symetric way
    read pages 107 and 108 (In spanish) if you dont speak spanish watch the drawing in the page 108… http://es.calameo.com/read/00056244661b9801c22c4

  2. It sounds to me like this Abe Zucca made a tremendous find, got a local instructor to decipher it, and likely asked him not to tell anybody for just in case somebody tried to steal it etc. before it was authenticated and officially presented to the public which could take some time. Grether probably decided to use it in his classes without attributing it to Tesla for that reason. Of course that’s 100% speculation but that’s what I imagine is going on.

    • Hmmm, I have this chart, but just a copy, of course. I love reading and learning about Tesla! Maybe this teacher should just give Tesla some credit. Obviously, Tesla’s chart had been around for a long time, way before this teacher decided to use it in his class. I will continue to study and look at Tesla’s copy. There is more than what we see and Tesla probably knew this too. One of the reason I love Tesla is his mysterious behavior. There is always more….. 🙂

      • Sorry, meant to say, I have a copy of Tesla’s Multiplication Chart. Many of Tesla’s patents are for view at the US Patent Office. Yes, I am an inventor/engineer and a larger than life fan and reader of Nikola Tesla!! LOL!

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