Monday, 6 May 2013

Nextian Geometry

I've been doing a bit of reading lately. One of my favourite author's is Jasper Fforde, very funny speculative fiction writer. I would like to publicly thank my colleague and friend Jane Stanton, school librarian extraordinaire, for pointing me in his direction. If you haven't read any of his works, do yourself a favour.

Jasper Fforde - worth reading

Anyway, I'm currently reading "Lost in a Good Book". Our hero, Thursday Next, is talking with her inventor uncle Mycroft. Polly is Mycroft's wife, Thursday's aunt.

"This is Polly's hobby, really. It's a new form of mathematical theory that makes Euclid's work seem like little more than long division. We have called it Nextian geometry. I won't bother you with the details, but watch this."
Mycroft rolled up his shirtsleeves and placed a large ball of dough on the workbench and rolled it out into a flat ovoid with a rolling pin.
"Scone dough," he explained. "I've left out the raisins for purposes of clarity. Usingconventional geometry, a round scone cutter always leaves waste behind, agreed?"
"Agreed."
"Not with Nextian geometry! You see this pastry cutter? Circular, wouldn't you say?"
"Perfectly circular, yes."
"Well," carried on Mycroft in an excited voice, "it isn't. It appears circular but actually it's a square. A Nextian square. Watch."
And so saying he deftly cut the dough into twelve perfectly circular shapes with no waste. I frowned and stared at the small pile of disks, not quite believing what I had just seen.
"How--?"
"Clever, isn't it?" he chuckled. "Admittedly, it only works with Nextian dough, which doesn't rise so well and tastes like denture paste, but we're working on that."

Jusper Fforde from "Lost in a Good Book"

There is more to come. When I find the other mathematical ideas (there are several) I will post them as well.

In the meantime, get down to the library and borrow a few of Fforde's books to read for yourself.

2 comments:

1. Haha! Love Jasper Fforde! His Nursery Crime series is good as well....

My favorite excerpt from the Thursday Next series:

“Good. Item seven. The had had and that that problem. Lady Cavendish, weren’t you working on this?’

Lady Cavendish stood up and gathered her thoughts. ‘Indeed. The uses of had had and that that have to be strictly controlled; they can interrupt the imaginotransference quite dramatically, causing readers to go back over the sentence in confusion, something we try to avoid.’

‘Go on.’

‘It’s mostly an unlicensed-usage problem. At the last count David Copperfield alone had had had hadsixty three times, all but ten unapproved. Pilgrim’s Progress may also be a problem due to its had had/that that ratio.’

‘So what’s the problem in Progress?’

‘That that had that that ten times but had had had had only thrice. Increased had had usage had had to be overlooked, but not if the number exceeds that that that usage.’

‘Hmm,’ said the Bellman, ‘I thought had had had had TGC’s approval for use in Dickens? What’s the problem?’

‘Take the first had had and that that in the book by way of example,’ said Lady Cavendish. ‘You would have thought that that first had had had had good occasion to be seen as had, had you not?Had had had approval but had had had not; equally it is true to say that that that that had had approval but that that other that that had not.’

‘So the problem with that other that that was that…?’

‘That that other-other that that had had approval.’

‘Okay’ said the Bellman, whose head was in danger of falling apart like a chocolate orange, ‘let me get this straight: David Copperfield, unlike Pilgrim’s Progress, had had had, had had had had. Had had had had TGC’s approval?’

There was a very long pause. ‘Right,’ said the Bellman with a sigh, ‘that’s it for the moment. I’ll be giving out assignments in ten minutes. Session’s over – and let’s be careful out there.”

2. Love it Craig. Glad you had had a good previous experience with Fforde like that that you could share.

Any comments you would like to make?