Fractals & Chaos Assignment for 10/26

The last topic of the first section of the course is to further expand our notion of dimension, but in a different direction: Can there be dimensions in excess of 3?

As we are 3-dimensional creatures, it is challenging for us to conceptualize what a 4-dimension world would be like. It is best understood by analogy: by considering how a 2-dimensional creature would experience the 3-dimensional world. Fortunately, much of this heavy lifting has already been done for us!

In 1884, Edwin Abbott Abbott published Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. It is told from the perspective of A. Square, a denizen of the titular 2-dimensional world, and starts off explaining aspects of their universe in great detail. The second part describes his first encounter with the 3-dimensional Spaceland, and the changes to his world-view as a result.

Abbott wrote the book partly as an exercise in geometry, but also partly as a satire on the regimented Victorian-era social hierarchy. As a result, there are some rather uncomfortable characterizations of women as lower-class citizens, among other shocking commentary.

You can read the full book here (I have paper copies if you’d prefer that), but for Monday please at least read this excerpt.


Questions? Comments?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s