Monday 25 January 2010

The Maths behind Alice in Wonderland

Ever since Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland was first published, people have tried to interpret exactly what it means. The Freudians had a field day trying to unravel the dark journey into the world of the subconscious.

A recent article in the New Scientist magazine suggests they may have been barking up the wrong tree. Research by Melanie Bayley suggests that the book was a biting satire on the radical new ideas in mathematics that were emerging towards the end of the 19th century.

Lewis Carroll was a pseudonym for Charles Dodgeson., a mathematician at Christ Church Oxford. It appears he was rather conservative and disliked the new style of maths that detached itself from the physical world.

While some of the maths went right over my head, its a fascinating read into how someone communicated their ideas through fiction, allegory and story telling.