BKFLTLND.RVW 970315
"Flatland", Edwin A. Abbott, 1884, 0-451-52290-7, U$4.95/C$5.99
%A Edwin A. Abbott
%C 2801 John Street, Markham, Ontario, Canada L3R 1B4
%D 1884
%G 0-451-52290-7
%I Penguin/Signet/Roc
%O U$4.95/C$5.99
%P 160
%T "Flatland"
Abbott's classic of a two-dimensional world is, of course, meant more as a
social satire than a scientific treatise. The Signet Classics edition has an
introduction by A. K. Dewdney (successor, with "Mathemagical Themas", to Martin
Gardner's "Mathematical Circus" column in the "Scientific American"). For some
reason, Dewdney laments the lack of a defined two-dimensional physics in
Flatland, preferring a variety of more recent works.
In fact, Abbott goes to considerable trouble to provide a fairly consistent and
cogent set of physical laws and explanations, particularly given the satirical
nature of the book. Where Dewdney says that Abbott does not give details about
locomotion in the plane, Abbott's remarks about friction are more consistent
than Dewdney's preferred story regarding some kind of legs. Abbott's comments
about the source of light are, as Dewdney points out, not consistent with a
wholly two-dimensional universe, but that is exactly Abbott's point. The book
deals with the interaction of the universes of two- and three-dimensions (and,
in fact, zero- and one-dimensions), and the lack of comprehension between them.
In addition, Abbott's working through of the progressions from zero to one,
two, three, and finally four dimensions are an excellent primer for the
exercises in regard to thinking of the extra-dimensionality of our universe.
copyright Robert M. Slade, 1997 BKFLTLND.RVW 970315
======================
roberts@decus.ca rslade@vcn.bc.ca slade@freenet.victoria.bc.ca
link to virus, book info at http://www.freenet.victoria.bc.ca/techrev/rms.html
Author "Robert Slade's Guide to Computer Viruses" 0-387-94663-2 (800-SPRINGER)