THE MATHEMATICIAN LEWIS CARROLL

It surprises some to know that the following famous people where outstanding mathematicians.

CHARLES LUTWIDGE DODGSON (1832-1898), who wrote under the pseudonym LEWIS CARROLL

JAMES ABRAM GARFIELD (1831-1881, 20th President of the United States)

IMMANUEL KANT (1724-1804, philosopher)

NAPOLEON BONAPARTE (1769-1821)

You probably realize that Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) is best known for famous children's classics such as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. He also wrote books and pamphlets on mathematical subjects. In his fantasy tales and even in his regular life, Carroll loved to invert things. For instance...

* He wrote letters to friends that had to be read from the last word to the first word.

Let's look at Carroll's classic, Alice. One could easily argue that this is an amazing mathematical document, since Carroll "inverts" many mathematical and scientific concepts the we use to describe the world of reality as we know it. Here are just a few examples.

* After running very fast for a period of time, Alice and the Red Queen get absolutely nowhere. They are exhausted, but they are at the point where they started. Alice is obviously confused, but the Red Queen says "Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place." In the real world, speed = distance/time. In Carroll's world, speed = time/distance. Carroll has inverted reality. The higher the speed, the smaller the distance covered. One has to run very fast just to remain at the same place.

* When Alice says "I am so hot and thirsty," the Queen says "I know what you'd like. Have a biscuit." (Would you offer a biscuit to a thirsty person?)

* Then there is the famous exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat:

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.