by Dave Kellam


Rithmomachy board

Rithmomachy is a complex, Early European, mathematical board game. The literal translation is “Battle of Numbers”. It’s similar to chess, but the capture of pieces depends on the numbers on each piece. Rhythmomachy Basics provides a few more details than the Wikipedia entry.

December 27, 2009 ·

Space battle physics

The Physics of Space Battles. It won’t really be like the dogfights or naval style battles in our scifi books, movies and television shows.

In principle, yes, your enemy could come at you from any direction at all. In practice, though, [they] are going to do no such thing. At least, not until someone invents an FTL drive, and we can actually pop our battle fleets into existence anywhere near our enemies. The marauding space fleets are going to be governed by orbit dynamics — not just of their own ships in orbit around planets and suns, but those planets’ orbits. For the same reason that we have Space Shuttle launch delays, we’ll be able to tell exactly what trajectories our enemies could take between planets: the launch window.

December 26, 2009 ·

Alice as mathematical satire

The absurdity in Alice in Wonderland is often attributed to drugs or a dark trip into the subconscious. For her PhD work, Melanie Bayley examined some of the most popular scenes from a mathematical perspective, which is summed up in Alice’s adventures in algebra. Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Caroll) was a rather conservative mathematician, who disagreed with many of the new mathematical theories emerging during the 19th century.

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.

I don’t imagine that Tim Burton’s new Alice in Wonderland will delve too deeply into mathematical theory.

December 17, 2009 ·