Mathematical mockery in Wonderland


16 Responses to “Mathematical mockery in Wonderland”

  1. frenchtoastkiss says:

    I know this isn’t related but….Tim Burton sucks, he’s going to poop on this book very soon

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wasn’t this already covered in Godel, Escher, Bach? Then again, most people never get through the first few chapters.

    • 2k says:

      Surely you mean they don’t get through the last few chapters.
      But then, actually warning you that the book stops making sense near the end, was by my reckoning a callous and dirty trick to have been played by the tortoise.

  3. phisrow says:

    This makes me a little sad, actually.

    I don’t really like to think of the guy who wrote Alice in Wonderland as a sad, spiteful, little man resorting to mockery because he doesn’t have the technical chops to go beyond a fairly narrow and reactionary circle of accepted mathematics.

  4. gouldina says:

    Being picky here but could you not have used one of the fantastic original illustrations for this story rather than a still from the Disney film?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I agree with daedalus.

    Why can’t it be about both?

    I like multiple meanings and layers in my fiction.

  6. Zorks says:

    The full article seems to smack of the logic frequently employed by numerologists. On the other hand, my dismissal of the article’s logic could be a gut reaction similar to Phisrow’s reasoning.

  7. Lobster says:

    We must save our children from algebra! Quick, get it out of our schools! ;)

  8. dr says:

    Imaginary numbers might have been controversial in the 16th century, but Euler was 18th century, and Gauss early 19th. It is extremely unlikely that Dodgson had any issues with imaginary numbers. Maybe the author is confusing them with quarternions, which are mid-19th century?

  9. Daedalus says:

    I’m not so sure that it has to be either mathematics or drugs. It could be both.

    Stoned Mathematician A: “Dude, what would happen if you found the square root…of negative one?!”

    Stoned Mathematician B: “Man, you are blowing my mind…we gotta write this shit down!”

    • querent says:

      heh. i was a math major at berkeley, and was a weed fiend.

      another of the better students once mocked pot-head mathematicians within my earshot, for my benefit. guess my predilection was pretty obvious. “Dude, what IS a number? Can you put a number in a box?”

      after the final (abstract algebra, indecently), which i rocked vengefully, he asked me about one of the problems. after explaining my solution, i offered up the parting shot, “Later on man. Gotta go put some numbers in boxes.”

      Also: what’s the deal with older folks calling joints “numbers?” As in, “I hit my last number, I walked to the road. Last dance with Mary Jane….”

  10. Margaret Maloney says:

    There’s a book about Lewis Carroll and math that came out a few years ago called Lewis Carroll in Numberland.

  11. JT Montreal says:

    @Daedalus: Heh, I am almost through reading “An Imaginary Tale: The Story of sqrt(-1)” by Paul Nahin, which is exactly what it says on the tin.

    Yay for Euler! I’m an EE (signal processing) and use imaginary numbers day in, day out.

  12. Anonymous says:

    This makes me think of a very old friend of mine (he’s now 79), who wrote his monograph on Dodgson’s incorporation of mathematics and logic way back in 1963. “Charles Dodgson, Semeiotician” by Daniel F. Kirk (University of Florida Press). Good luck finding a copy to read…

  13. Avram / Moderator says:

    I’ve heard it said that the bit about the difference between a song, and the song’s name, and what the song is called, and what the song’s name is called, works as an introduction to the idea of references and dereferencing in programming languages.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I thought symbolic algebra was the link between arithmetic and geometry.

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