The Se­duc­tion of Curves: The Lines of Beauty that Con­nect Mathematics, Art, and the Nude

THE (Times Higher Education) - - BOOKS -

Allan McRo­bie; with pho­to­graphs by He­lena Weight­man

Prince­ton Univer­sity Press

Curves, ac­cord­ing to Allan McRo­bie, reader in en­gi­neer­ing at the Univer­sity of Cam­bridge, are “se­duc­tive” and “speak to us on some deeply in­stinc­tual level”. Yet, per­haps sur­pris­ingly, they also have “a lan­guage, an al­pha­bet, a lex­i­con” that dis­tin­guishes be­tween cusps and folds, but­ter­flies and swal­low­tails, wig­wams and um­bil­ics. To il­lus­trate this lit­tle-known branch of mathematics, he draws on the art of David Hock­ney, Henry Moore and Sal­vador Dalí, as well as He­lena Weight­man’s su­perb pho­to­graphs of moun­tains, mush­rooms, re­flec­tions on wa­ter and naked bod­ies. Ev­ery­thing from the sta­bil­ity of oil rigs to the shape of our gen­i­tals turns out to be in­ti­mately re­lated to curves.

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