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Algebra In Wonderland

March 7th, 2010 03:43 admin Leave a comment Go to comments

theodp writes “As Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ shatters 3-D and IMAX records en route to a $116.3 million opening, the NY Times offers a rather cerebral op-ed arguing that Alice’s search for a beautiful garden can be neatly interpreted as a mishmash of satire directed at the advances taking place in mid-19th century math. Charles Dodgson, who penned ‘Alice’ under the name Lewis Carroll, was a tutor in mathematics at Christ Church in Oxford who found the radical new math illogical and lacking in intellectual rigor. Op-ed writer Melanie Bayley explains: ‘Chapter 6, “Pig and Pepper,” parodies the principle of continuity, a bizarre concept from projective geometry, which was introduced in the mid-19th century from France. This principle (now an important aspect of modern topology) involves the idea that one shape can bend and stretch into another, provided it retains the same basic properties — a circle is the same as an ellipse or a parabola (the curve of the Cheshire cat’s grin). Taking the notion to its extreme, what works for a circle should also work for a baby. So, when Alice takes the Duchess’s baby outside, it turns into a pig. The Cheshire Cat says, “I thought it would.”‘”

Source: Algebra In Wonderland

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