Sunday, April 11, 2004

Sunday April 11, 2004

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 3:28 PM

Good Friday and
Descartes’s Easter Egg

“The use of z, y, x . . . to represent unknowns is due to René Descartes, in his La géometrie (1637)…. In a paper on Cartesian ovals, prepared before 1629, x alone occurs as unknown…. This is the earliest place in which Descartes used one of the last letters of the alphabet to represent an unknown.”

— Florian Cajori, A History of Mathematical Notations. 2 volumes. Lasalle, Illinois: The Open Court Publishing Co., 1928-1929. (Vol. 1, page 381)

This is from


Descartes’s Easter Egg is found at

EggMath: The Shape of an Egg —
Cartesian Ovals

An Easter Meditation
on Humpty Dumpty

The following is excerpted from a web page headed “Catholic Way.”  It is one of a series of vicious and stupid Roman Catholic attacks on Descartes.  Such attacks have been encouraged by the present Pope, who today said “may the culture of life and love render vain the logic of death.”

The culture of life and love is that of the geometry (if not the philosophy) of Descartes.  The logic of death is that of Karol Wojtyla, as was made very clear in the past century by the National Socialist Party, which had its roots in Roman Catholicism.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

“In the century just completed, the human race found itself in a position not unlike the scrambled mess at the base of an imaginary English wall….

… we are heirs to a humanity that is broken, fractured, confused, unsure of what to make of itself….

 … ‘postmodernism’ is merely the articulation of the fractured, dissipated state of the human being…. 

Without relating a history of modern philosophy, our unfortunate human shell has suffered a continual fragmentation for a period of roughly 500 years. (You philosophers out there will recognize immediately that I am referring to the legacy of René Descartes.) And this fragmentation has been a one-way street: one assault after another on the integrity and dignity of the human person until you have, well, the 20th Century.

But now it’s the 21st Century.

The beauty … the marvel … the miracle of our time is the possibility that gravity will reverse itself: Humpty Dumpty may be able, once again, to assume his perch.”

—  Ted Papa,
Raising Humpty Dumpty


The upper part
of the above icon
is from EggMath.
For the lower part,
see Good Friday.

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