Sunday, 20 December 2009

Alice's adventures in Algebra

This is an interesting article from the New Scientist on the importance of maths, and partucular algebra, in Alice in Wonderland:

"The madness of Wonderland, I believe, reflects Dodgson's views on the dangers of this new symbolic algebra. Alice has moved from a rational world to a land where even numbers behave erratically. In the hallway, she tried to remember her multiplication tables, but they had slipped out of the base-10 number system we are used to. In the caterpillar scene, Dodgson's qualms are reflected in the way Alice's height fluctuates between 9 feet and 3 inches. Alice, bound by conventional arithmetic where a quantity such as size should be constant, finds this troubling: "Being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing," she complains. "It isn't," replies the Caterpillar, who lives in this absurd world."

For more of this sort of stuff read on here.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Noughty Books

Here's a relatively random set of books of the noughties from the Telegraph.

It's based on books that 'defined the noughties', rather than ones that were best selling, or any good, but there are some interesting ones on the list, including (by my reckoning) ten that we've read, and a few others (inc The Line of Beauty) that we considered.

Plus - The Onion AV Club has a shorter list, but much more in tune with our tastes.