Ponticulus Britannicus

the connections between arts and sciences according to edutainment—in english

Bridges Pécs 2010 World Conference
Keywords: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture

The Bridges Conferences, running annually since 1998, bring together practicing mathematicians, scientists, artists, educators, musicians, writers, computer scientists, sculptors, dancers, weavers, and model builders in a lively atmosphere of exchange and mutual encouragement. Important components of these conferences, in addition to formal presentations, are hands-on workshops, gallery displays of visual art, working sessions with artists who are crossing the mathematics-arts boundaries, and musical/theatrical events in the evenings.

The Bridges Pécs 2010 will be a full blown 4-day conference on Mathematics and its connections to Art, Music, and Science plus an Excursion Day. The 4-day conference will be comprised of a 3-day conference in the international annual series of Bridges Conferences and a 4th day devoted to the work and artistic influence of Hungarian artists and mathematicians.

Supported by the Pécs 2010—European Capital of Culture project.

Bridges Organization · Pécsi Kulturális Központ

The Two Cultures by Charles Percy Snow
Keywords: two cultures, art, science, Charles Percy Snow
“Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is about the scientific equivalent of: Have your read a work of Shakespeare’s?
Bridge builders
The epigraphs of the book “The Java Language Specification”
Keywords: informatics: computing, programming language, Java, computer programming, Java programming language
“Packages: ‘Good things come in small packages.’ (Traditional proverb)”
Keywords: mathematics, Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, Voyage to Laputa
“Although several of the critics incline to think that such satire is peculiar to Swift, there is little in the main idea of this section that is unique.”
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra: Don Quixote (Excerpt)
Keywords: mathematics, Euclid, Euclid’s Elements, Euclid’s third axiom, set theory, Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
“If equals be taken from equals, the remainders are equal.”
William Shakespeare: Machbet (Excerpt)
Keywords: biochemistry, alcohol, sexual potential, sexual-psychology, Machbet, William Shakespeare
“…it provokes and unprovokes…”
Applied Geometry
Keywords: mathematics, applied geometry, capital letters, Albrecht Dürer
“I hope that no wise man will defame this laborious task of mine, since [I undertake it on] behalf of all who love the Liberal Arts. [Not for] painters alone but for [all] who use compass and rule, and measuring line—that it may serve to their utility.”
Molière: The Imaginary Invalid (Excerpt)
Keywords: medicine, to flush, irrigate, detoxicate, assuaging of pain, etc.
“ARGAN: Three and two make five, and five make ten and ten twenty. Three and two make five. Item, on the twenty-fourth, a small injection, preparatory, insinuative, and emollient to lubricate, loosen, and stimulate the gentleman’s bowels…”
George Bernard Shaw: Too True to be Good (Excerpt)
Keywords: mathematics, physics, mathematical models, Newtonian and relativistic physics, macro- and microphysics, causality, atomic model, orbit of electrons, quantum-jumps, George Bernard Shaw
“…women are not, as they suppose, more interesting than the universe.”
Robert Burns: John Barleycorn—A Ballad
Keywords: food processing, barley, hordeum, beer, beer-making, Robert Burns
“They took a plough and ploughed him down, / Put clods upon his head, / And they have sworn a solemn oath / John Barleycorn was dead.”
George Bernard Shaw: Preface to Saint Joan (Excerpt)
Keywords: physics, atom, electron, modern physics, George Bernard Shaw
“The medieval doctors of divinity who did not pretend to settle how many angels could dance on the point of a needle cut a very poor figure as far as romantic credulity is concerned beside the modern physicists who have settled to the billionth of a millimeters every movement and position in the dance of the electrons.”
Marcel Duchamp’s Experimental Geometry
Keywords: mathematics, non-Euclidean geometry, Marcel Duchamp
“Duchamp’s days of concentrated geometric scholarship were largely over by the time he left France in 1915 and were certainly so by 1919.”
Master class
Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman
Keywords: physics, nature of time
“In this world, there are two times. There is mechanical time and there is body time.”
Divina Proportione by Luca Pacioli
Capital Letters by Applied Geometry
Keywords: mathematics, geometry
Keywords: botany, didactic poem, Erasmus Darwin
“Rooted in earth, each cloven foot descends,
And round and round her flexile neck she bends,
Crops the grey coral moss, and hoary thyme,
Or laps with rosy tongue the melting rime;”
Keywords: mathematics, Mathematical Quotations Server
“J. W. Goethe, Th. Mann, A. Pope, W. Shakespeare, G. B. Shaw, J. Swift, L. N. Tolstoy, Voltaire ‘I tell them that if they will occupy themselves with the study of mathematics they will find in it the best remedy against the lusts of the flesh.’—Thomas Mann: The Magic Mountain.”
Keywords: mathematical logics, Aristotelian syllogisms
“…In the part of syllogisms the famous mnemonic verses ’Barbara Celarent’ make their first appearance…”
Paul (Pál) Erdős
Keywords: mathematics, Paul Erdős, number theory, prim numbers, combinatorics, graph theory
“I’m over 60 years: Poor Grand Old Man + Living Dead”
Graph Theory Hymn
Keywords: mathematics, graph theory, Leonhard Euler, Eulerian graph, Koenigsberg bridge problem
“Starting out and ending at the same spot,
You must cross each bridge just once each ev’ning.”
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra: Don Quixote (Excerpt)
Keywords: methods, natural sciences, mathematics, physics, astronomy, geography, Sancho Panza, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
“Sancho felt, and passing his hand gently and carefully down to the hollow of his left knee, he looked up at his master and said, »Either the test is a false one, or we have not come to where your worship says, nor within many leagues of it.«”

“The one who seeks truth is a scientist. The one who wish to realize the free flow of his subjective thought is a writer. But what can one do in case if one needs a way in between these two possibilities?”

Robert Musil



The schoolboy was waiting for the lesson of mathematics without any interest. He studied in a class specialized in humanities and therefore he has not been touched at all by no kind of mathematical formula. Anyhow, their teacher fell sick and someone had to replace him. The old man whom the students knew only by seeing him around in the corridor rushed to the blackboard without paying any interest to the class and started a mathematical deduction. After the first couple of formulas, the students looked at each other: no doubt, this guy must be a fool, he should know that they do not understand a word from this blah. After the second line the discipline in the class became looser, and after the third one some students became short of breath. The old teacher did not notice this at all, finished his deduction and then turned towards the class. “Is not it beautiful?” he asked. The schoolboy became astounded. Is it possible that some unintelligible formulas may effect certain people in the same way as he is effected by some splendid lines of poetry?

After his studies in the secondary school the boy became a second-hand bookseller. And even after twenty years have passed, this experience is still alive in his memory.

—a story from around 1970


The student was nodding peacefully during the explanation of the teacher of philosophy about Aristotle, Porphyry and about some other sages of the Antiquity. In reality, he was already focusing on the class of informatics where he wanted to modify the most recent program. But suddenly he became awake when he heard the teacher of philosophy mentioning that the construction of the computer programming nowadays displays a shocking similarity to the so-called “arbor porphyriana”, the tree of Porphyry elaborated by a thinker in the Antiquity. Incredible! The same story two thousand years ago… He decided to address some questions about it to his teacher of informatics.

—fictive story


The Latin word ‘ponticulus’ means a little bridge, plank.


György Visontay (Mr., editor)

Visontay György szerkesztő
Ponticulus Hungaricus

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