By Ian Stewart
Like the unique, Ian Stewart's remark takes readers on an odd and beautiful trip. With readability and wit, Stewart illuminates Abbott's various Victorian references and touches on such assorted subject matters as historical Babylon, Karl Marx, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Mt. Everest, H.G. Wells, and phrenology. The Annotated Flatland makes interesting connections among Flatland and Abbott's period, leading to a vintage to rival Abbott's personal, and a booklet that might encourage and enjoyment curious readers for generations to come.
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Additional resources for The Annotated Flatland
About 800 years later, the Greek philosopher Proclus related one anecdote about Euclid: He is alleged to have told Ptolemy that “there is no royal road to geometry” — no shortcut to save the king effort or time. ” Until the twentieth century, “geometry” in English schools meant a simplified version of the early parts of Euclid’s Elements. qxd 4/25/08 10:59 AM Page 18 fertile ground for Abbott’s imagination. Every schoolboy — though not every schoolgirl — would be only too familiar with the Euclidean world of a flat plane inhabited by Triangles, Circles, and Squares.
Newton also discovered many fundamental principles in optics, dabbled in alchemy, tried to date the events in the Bible, and served as master of the Royal Mint. 24 One of the predictions of the General Theory of Relativity is that gravity bends light by twice the amount that Newton’s laws imply. In 1919 this prediction was confirmed when Eddington (see next note) led an expedition to Príncipe Island in West Africa, where a total eclipse of the sun was due to occur. A second expedition to Sobral, in Brazil, was led by Andrew Crommelin (1865–1939) of Greenwich Observatory.
In this interpretation, the path of a moving body in space is visualized as a single, unchanging path in space-time. For example, suppose that a point particle moves through space, occupying position x (t) at time t. The corresponding set of points (x (t), t) forms a curve in space-time, the world line of the particle. This geometric image of space-time is extremely useful in relativity (see “The Fourth Dimension in Mathematics” in this book). Philosophically, the “world line” image raises an interesting question about free will.