Thursday, December 6, 2012

Magic Square

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:18 PM

This post was suggested by the December 4th death
of modernist composer Jonathan Harvey, 73,
and by Harvey's reflections on his 2007 opera
Wagner Dream .

For related reflections, see the Oct. 10 post on
the Dürer magic square in Mann's Doctor Faustus .

See also a December 2nd post on the Nov. 18 death of
chess grandmaster Elena Akhmilovskaya Donaldson.

IMAGE- Chess grandmaster and Dürer's angel with magic square

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Diamond Theory and Magic Squares

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 6:19 PM

"A world of made
is not a world of born— pity poor flesh
and trees, poor stars and stones, but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

— e. e. cummings, 1944

For one such specimen, see The Matrix of Abraham
a 5×5 square that is hypermagical… indeed, diabolical.

Related material on the algebra and geometry underlying some smaller structures
that have also, unfortunately, become associated with the word "magic"—

  1. Finite Geometry of the Square and Cube
  2. Clifford Pickover on a 4×4 square
  3. Christopher J. Henrich on the geometry of 4×4 magic squares
    (without any mention of  [1] above or related work dating back to 1976)

" … listen: there's a hell
of a good universe next door; let's go"

— e. e. cummings

Happy birthday, e. e.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Schoolgirl Space — Tetrahedron or Square?

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 9:03 PM

The exercise in the previous post  was suggested by a passage
purporting to "use standard block design theory" that was written
by some anonymous author at Wikipedia on March 1, 2019:

Here "rm OR" apparently means "remove original research."

Before the March 1 revision . . .

The "original research" objected to and removed was the paragraph
beginning "To explain this further."  That paragraph was put into the
article earlier on Feb. 28 by yet another anonymous author (not  by me).

An account of my own (1976 and later) original research on this subject 
is pictured below, in a note from Feb. 20, 1986 —

'The relativity problem in finite geometry,' 1986

Friday, May 22, 2015

Mathmagic Land

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Donald Duck with Pythagorean pentagram on hand

Donald in Mathmagic Land

Manly P. Hall

Friday, July 25, 2014

Magic for Jews

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 8:00 PM

(Continued from April 8, 2013.)

See Two Blocks Short of a Design (May 5, 2011).

Magic in the Moonshine

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:00 PM

“The yarns of seamen have a direct simplicity, the whole meaning
of which lies within the shell of a cracked nut. But Marlow was not
typical (if his propensity to spin yarns be excepted), and to him the
meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside,
enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a
haze, in the likeness of one of these misty halos that sometimes
are made visible by the spectral illumination of moonshine.”

— Joseph Conrad in Heart of Darkness

“By groping toward the light we are made to realize
how deep the darkness is around us.”

— Arthur Koestler, The Call Girls: A Tragi-Comedy,
Random House, 1973, page 118

Spectral evidence is a form of evidence
based upon dreams and visions.” —Wikipedia

See also Moonshine (May 15, 2014) and, from the date of the above
New York Times  item, two posts tagged Wunderkammer .

Related material: From the Spectrum program of the Mathematical
Association of America, some non-spectral evidence.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Death in Mathmagic Land

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 11:29 AM

(Continued from May 14, 2014.)

See also consciousness growth and the previous post.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Death in Mathmagic Land

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

"It was our old friend Pythagoras who discovered
that the pentagram was full of mathematics."

— Narrator, "Donald in Mathmagic Land," Disney, 1959

… and it was Peter J. Cameron who discovered that
mathematics was full of pentagrams.

From Log24 on May 3:  Gray Space —

Robert J. Stewart (left) and a pentagram photo posted May 2
by Oslo artist Josefine Lyche. See also Lyche in this journal.

From Log24 on May 13:  An Artist's Memorial —

The death mentioned in the above May 13 post occurred on
May 12, the date of a scheduled Black Mass at Harvard.

Related material:

Monday, April 8, 2013

Magic for Jews

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:00 PM

A commenter on Saturday's "Seize the Dia" has
suggested a look at the work of one Mark Collins.

Here is such a look (click to enlarge):

I find attempts to associate pure mathematics with the words
"magic" or "mystic" rather nauseating. (H. F. Baker's work
on Pascal's mystic hexagram  is no exception; Baker was
stuck with Pascal's obnoxious adjective, but had no truck
with any mystic aspects of the hexagram.)

The remarks above by Clifford Pickover on Collins, Dürer, and
binary representations may interest some non-mathematicians,
who should not  be encouraged to waste their time on this topic.

For the mathematics underlying the binary representation of
Dürer's square, see, for instance, my 1984 article "Binary
Coordinate Systems

Those without the background to understand that article
may enjoy, instead of Pickover's abortive attempts above at
mathematical vulgarization, his impressively awful 2009 novel
Jews in Hyperspace .

Pickover's 2002 book on magic squares was, unfortunately,
published by the formerly reputable Princeton University Press.

Related material from today's Daily Princetonian :

See also Nash + Princeton in this journal.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

On Art and Magic

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 10:30 PM

Two Blocks Short of a Design:

A sequel to this morning's post on Douglas Hofstadter


Photo of Hofstadter by Mike McGrath taken May 13, 2006

Related material — See Lyche's  "Theme and Variations" in this journal
and Hofstadter's "Variations on a Theme as the Essence of Imagination"
Scientific American  October 1982

A quotation from a 1985 book by Hofstadter—

"… we need to entice people with the beauties of clarity, simplicity, precision,
elegance, balance, symmetry, and so on.

Those artistic qualities… are the things that I have tried to explore and even
to celebrate in Metamagical Themas .  (It is not for nothing that the word
'magic' appears inside the title!)"

The artistic qualities Hofstadter lists are best sought in mathematics, not in magic.

An example from Wikipedia —




The Fano plane block design



The Deathly Hallows  symbol—
Two blocks short of  a design.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Three Small Grids

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 8:48 PM

An earlier post today, now tagged "Three Small Magic Squares,"
suggests a review of a post from October 25 three years ago
that contains the following figure —

Fans of the October Revolution may enjoy a passage
by Rosalind Krauss on grids:

Dürer for St. Luke’s Day

Filed under: G-Notes,General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 1:00 PM

Structure of the Dürer magic square 

16   3   2  13
 5  10  11   8   decreased by 1 is …
 9   6   7  12
 4  15  14   1

15   2   1  12
 4   9  10   7
 8   5   6  11
 3  14  13   0 .

Base 4 —

33  02  01  30
10  21  22  13
20  11  12  23 
03  32  31  00 .

Two-part decomposition of base-4 array
as two (non-Latin) orthogonal arrays

3 0 0 3     3 2 1 0
1 2 2 1     0 1 2 3
2 1 1 2     0 1 2 3
0 3 3 0     3 2 1 0 .

Base 2 –

1111  0010  0001  1100
0100  1001  1010  0111
1000  0101  0110  1011
0011  1110  1101  0000 .

Four-part decomposition of base-2 array
as four affine hyperplanes over GF(2) —

1001  1001  1100  1010
0110  1001  0011  0101
1001  0110  0011  0101
0110  0110  1100  1010 .

— Steven H. Cullinane,
  October 18, 2017

See also recent related analyses of
noted 3×3 and 5×5 magic squares.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Plan 9 Continues

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 PM

See also Holy Field in this journal.

Some related mathematics —

IMAGE- Herbert John Ryser, 'Combinatorial Mathematics' (1963), page 1

Analysis of the Lo Shu structure —

Structure of the 3×3 magic square:

4  9  2
3  5  7    decreased by 1 is
8  1  6

3  8  1
2  4  6
7  0  5

In base 3 —

10  22  01
02  11  20
21  00  12

As orthogonal Latin squares
(a well-known construction) —

1  2  0     0  2  1
0  1  2     2  1  0
2  0  1     1  0  2 .

— Steven H. Cullinane,
     October 17, 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017

Highway 61 Revisited

Filed under: G-Notes,General,Geometry — Tags: , , — m759 @ 10:13 AM

"God said to Abraham …." — Bob Dylan, "Highway 61 Revisited"

Related material — 

See as well Charles Small, Harvard '64, 
"Magic Squares over Fields" —

— and Conway-Norton-Ryba in this  journal.

Some remarks on an order-five  magic square over GF(52):

"Ultra Super Magic Square"

on the numbers 0 to 24:

22   5   18   1  14
  3  11  24   7  15
  9  17   0  13  21
10  23   6  19   2
16   4  12  20   8


42  10  33  01  24 
03  21  44  12  30 
14  32  00  23  41
20  43  11  34  02
31  04  22  40  13 

Regarding the above digits as representing
elements of the vector 2-space over GF(5)
(or the vector 1-space over GF(52)) 

All vector row sums = (0, 0)  (or 0, over GF(52)).
All vector column sums = same.

Above array as two
orthogonal Latin squares:
4 1 3 0 2     2 0 3 1 4
0 2 4 1 3     3 1 4 2 0 
1 3 0 2 4     4 2 0 3 1         
2 4 1 3 0     0 3 1 4 2
3 0 2 4 1     1 4 2 0 3

— Steven H. Cullinane,
      October 16, 2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Florence 2001

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 4:44 AM

Or:  Coordinatization for Physicists

This post was suggested by the link on the word "coordinatized"
in the previous post.

I regret that Weyl's term "coordinatization" perhaps has
too many syllables for the readers of recreational mathematics —
for example, of an article on 4×4 magic squares by Conway, Norton,
and Ryba to be published today by Princeton University Press.

Insight into the deeper properties of such squares unfortunately
requires both the ability to learn what a "Galois field" is and the
ability to comprehend seven-syllable words.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Conway-Norton-Ryba Theorem

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 1:40 PM

In a book to be published Sept. 5 by Princeton University Press,
John Conway, Simon Norton,  and Alex Ryba present the following
result on order-four magic squares

A monograph published in 1976, "Diamond Theory," deals with 
more general 4×4 squares containing entries from the Galois fields
GF(2), GF(4), or GF(16).  These squares have remarkable, if not 
"magic," symmetry properties.  See excerpts in a 1977 article.

See also Magic Square and Diamond Theorem in this  journal.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Talisman for Finkelstein

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 AM

The late physicist David Ritz Finkelstein on the magic square
in Dürer's "Melencolia I" —

"As a child I wondered why such a square was called magic.
The Occult Philosophy  [of Agrippa] answers this question
at least. They were used as magical talismans."

The correspondence  in the previous post between
Figures A and B may serve as a devotional talisman
in memory of Finkelstein, a physicist who, in the sort of
magical thinking enjoyed by traditional Catholics, might
still be lingering in Purgatory.

See also this journal on the date of Finkelstein's death —

Friday, July 15, 2016

Autistic Enchantment*

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 10:29 AM

Robert Nye, author of the novel Falstaffreportedly died
at 77 on July 2, 2016.

Harvey D. Heinz, expert on magic squares, cubes,
tesseracts, etc., reportedly died at 82 on July 6, 2013.

In memoriam —

From the date of Nye's death:

From Nye's book:

From the date of Heinz's death:

* See also a search for the title in this journal.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Film and Phenomenology

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 1:18 PM

Continued from All Hallows' Eve, 2014.

Last year's Halloween post displayed the
Dürer print Knight, Death, and the Devil 
(illustrated below on the cover of the book
Film and Phenomenology  by Allan Casebier).

Cover illustration: Durer's 'Knight, Death, and the Devil'

Cover illustration: Knight, Death, and the Devil
by Albrecht Dürer

Some mathematics related to a different Dürer print —

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 1:00 AM

“There exists a considerable literature
devoted to the Lo shu , much of it infected
with the kind of crypto-mystic twaddle
met with in Feng Shui.”

— Lee C. F. Sallows, Geometric Magic Squares ,
Dover Publications, 2013, page 121

Cf. Raiders of the Lost Theorem, Oct. 13, 2014.

See also tonight’s previous post and
“Feng Shui” in this journal.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Raiders of the Lost Theorem

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 12:05 PM

(Continued from Nov. 16, 2013.)

The 48 actions of GL(2,3) on a 3×3 array include the 8-element
quaternion group as a subgroup. This was illustrated in a Log24 post,
Hamilton’s Whirligig, of Jan. 5, 2006, and in a webpage whose
earliest version in the Internet Archive is from June 14, 2006.

One of these quaternion actions is pictured, without any reference
to quaternions, in a 2013 book by a Netherlands author whose
background in pure mathematics is apparently minimal:

In context (click to enlarge):

Update of later the same day —

Lee Sallows, Sept. 2011 foreword to Geometric Magic Squares —

“I first hit on the idea of a geometric magic square* in October 2001,**
and I sensed at once that I had penetrated some previously hidden portal
and was now standing on the threshold of a great adventure. It was going
to be like exploring Aladdin’s Cave. That there were treasures in the cave,
I was convinced, but how they were to be found was far from clear. The
concept of a geometric magic square is so simple that a child will grasp it
in a single glance. Ask a mathematician to create an actual specimen and
you may have a long wait before getting a response; such are the formidable
difficulties confronting the would-be constructor.”

* Defined by Sallows later in the book:

“Geometric  or, less formally, geomagic  is the term I use for
a magic square in which higher dimensional geometrical shapes
(or tiles  or pieces ) may appear in the cells instead of numbers.”

** See some geometric  matrices by Cullinane in a March 2001 webpage.

Earlier actual specimens — see Diamond Theory  excerpts published in
February 1977 and a brief description of the original 1976 monograph:

“51 pp. on the symmetries & algebra of
matrices with geometric-figure entries.”

— Steven H. Cullinane, 1977 ad in
Notices of the American Mathematical Society

The recreational topic of “magicsquares is of little relevance
to my own interests— group actions on such matrices and the
matrices’ role as models of finite geometries.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Raiders of the Lost Theorem

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 11:30 AM

IMAGE- The 'atomic square' in Lee Sallows's article 'The Lost Theorem'

Yes. See

The 48 actions of GL(2,3) on a 3×3 coordinate-array A,
when matrices of that group right-multiply the elements of A,
with A =

(1,1) (1,0) (1,2)
(0,1) (0,0) (0,2)
(2,1) (2,0) (2,2)

Actions of GL(2,p) on a pxp coordinate-array have the
same sorts of symmetries, where p is any odd prime.

Note that A, regarded in the Sallows manner as a magic square,
has the constant sum (0,0) in rows, columns, both diagonals, and  
all four broken diagonals (with arithmetic modulo 3).

For a more sophisticated approach to the structure of the
ninefold square, see Coxeter + Aleph.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Four Quartets

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 5:10 PM

For the cruelest month

Click for a much larger version of the photo below.

These four Kountry Korn  quartets are from the Fox Valleyaires
Men's Barbershop Chorus of Appleton, Wisconsin.

See also the fine arts here  on Saturday, April 6, 2013

The New York Times Magazine  cover story
a decade ago, on Sunday, April 6, 2003:

"The artists demanded space
in tune with their aesthetic."

— "The Dia Generation,"
by Michael Kimmelman

Related material:

IMAGE- Clifford A. Pickover on symmetries in the Dürer 4x4 magic square, with a critique

See Wikipedia for the difference between binary numbers
and binary coordinates  from the finite Galois field GF(2).

For some background, see the relativity problem.

See also the chapter on vector spaces in Korn & Korn
(originally published by McGraw-Hill)—


Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 2:00 PM

In memory of Charles Rosen:

IMAGE- Herbert John Ryser, 'Combinatorial Mathematics' (1963), page 1

Related material:

The Magic Square in Doctor Faustus  (October 10th, 2012)

Elementary Finite Geometry (August 1st, 2012)

The Space of Horizons (August 7th, 2012)

Chromatic Plenitude (Rosen on Schoenberg)

IMAGE- Charles Rosen on 'a final demarcation of form'

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cube Review

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 3:00 PM

Last Wednesday's 11 PM post mentioned the
adjacency-isomorphism relating the 4-dimensional 
hypercube over the 2-element Galois field GF(2) to
the 4×4 array made up of 16 square cells, with
opposite edges of the 4×4 array identified.

A web page illustrates this property with diagrams that
enjoy the Karnaugh property— adjacent vertices, or cells,
differ in exactly one coordinate. A brief paper by two German
authors relates the Karnaugh property to the construction
of a magic square like that of Dürer (see last Wednesday).

In a similar way (search the Web for Karnaugh + cube ),
vertex adjacency in the 6-dimensional hypercube over GF(2) 
is isomorphic to cell adjacency in the 4x4x4 cube, with
opposite faces of the 4x4x4 cube identified.

The above cube may be used to illustrate some properties
of the 64-point Galois 6-space that are more advanced
than those studied by enthusiasts of "magic" squares
and cubes.


Those who prefer narrative to mathematics may
consult posts in this journal containing the word "Cuber."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Melancholia, Depression, Ambiguity

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 11:00 PM

Occurrences of the phrase "magic square" in Lowe-Porter's translation of the Thomas Mann novel Doctor Faustus

"On the wall above the  piano was an arithmetical diagram fastened with drawing-pins, something he had found in a second-hand shop: a so-called magic square, such as appears also in Dürer's Melancolia , along with the hour-glass, the circle, the scale, the polyhedron, and other symbols. Here as there, the figure was divided into sixteen Arabic-numbered fields, in such a way that number one was in the right-hand lower corner, sixteen in the upper left; and the magic, or the oddity, simply consisted in the fact that the sum of these numerals, however you added them, straight down, crosswise, or diagonally, always came to thirty-four. What the principle was upon which this magic uniformity rested I never made out, but by virtue of the prominent place Adrian had given it over the piano, it always attracted the eye, and I believe I never visited his room without giving a quick glance, slanting up or straight down and testing once more the invariable, incredible result."


"Adrian kept without changing during the whole four and a half years he spent in Leipzig his two-room quarters in Peterstrasse near the Collegium Beatae Virginis, where he had again pinned the magic square above his cottage piano."


" 'The decisive factor is that every note, without exception, has significance and function according to its place in the basic series or its derivatives. That would guarantee what I call the indifference to harmony and melody.' 

'A magic square,' I said. 'But do you hope to have people hear all that?' "


" 'Extraordinarily Dürerish. You love it. First "how will I shiver after the sun"; and then the houre-glasse of the Melancolia .  Is the magic square coming too?' "


"Here I will remind the reader of a conversation I had with Adrian on a long-ago day, the day of his sister's wedding at Buchel, as we walked round the Cow Trough. He developed for me— under pressure of a headache— his idea of the 'strict style,' derived from the way in which, as in the lied 'O lieb Madel, wie schlecht bist du ' melody and harmony are determined by the permutation of a fundamental five-note motif, the symbolic letters h, e, a, e, e-flat. He showed me the 'magic square' of a style of technique which yet developed the extreme of variety out of identical material and in which there is no longer anything unthematic, anything that could not prove itself to be a variation of an ever constant element. This style, this technique, he said, admitted no note, not one, which did not fulfil its thematic function in the whole structure— there was no longer any free note."

Review of related material— 

Last night's midnight post (disambiguation), the followup 1 AM post (ambiguation), today's noon post (ambiguity), and Dürer in this journal.

The tesseracts of the noon post are related to the Dürer magic square by a well-known adjacency property.

"… the once stable 'father's depression' has been transmuted into a shifting reality that shimmered in a multiplicity of facets."

Haim Omer, Tel-Aviv University, on Milanese ambiguation  therapy,
     p. 321 in "Three Styles of Constructive Therapy,"
     Constructive Therapies, Vol. 2 , pp. 319-333, 
     ed. by Michael F. Hoyt (Guilford Press paperback, 1998)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The David Waltz…

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 9:00 AM

In Turing's Cathedral

"At the still point…" — T. S. Eliot

In memory of David L. Waltz, artificial-intelligence pioneer,
who died Thursday, March 22, 2012—

  1. The Log24 post of March 22 on the square-triangle theorem
  2. The March 18 post, Square-Triangle Diamond
  3. Remarks from the BBC on linguistic embedding
    that begin as follows—
         "If we draw a large triangle and embed smaller triangles in it,
          how does it look?"—
    and include discussion of a South American "tribe called Piranha" [sic ]
  4. The result of a Cartoon Bank search suggested by no. 3 above—
    (Click image for some related material.)
  5. A suggestion from the Cartoon Bank—
    IMAGE- 'Try our new grid view.'
  6. The following from the First of May, 2010

    The Nine Divisions of Heaven–

    Image-- Routledge Encyclopedia of Taoism, Vol. I, on the Nine Heavens, 'jiutian,' ed. by Fabrizio Pregadio

    Some context–

    IMAGE- The 3x3 ('ninefold') square as Chinese 'Holy Field'

    "This pattern is a square divided into nine equal parts.
    It has been called the 'Holy Field' division and
    was used throughout Chinese history for many
    different purposes, most of which were connected
    with things religious, political, or philosophical."

    – The Magic Square: Cities in Ancient China,
    by Alfred Schinz, Edition Axel Menges, 1996, p. 71

  7. The phrase "embedding the stone" —

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Defining Form

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , — m759 @ 9:00 AM

(Continued from Epiphany and from yesterday.)

Detail from the current American Mathematical Society homepage


Further detail, with a comparison to Dürer’s magic square

http://www.log24.com/log/pix12/120110-Donmoyer-Still-Life-Detail.jpg http://www.log24.com/log/pix12/120110-DurerSquare.jpg

The three interpenetrating planes in the foreground of Donmoyer‘s picture
provide a clue to the structure of the the magic square array behind them.

Group the 16 elements of Donmoyer’s array into four 4-sets corresponding to the
four rows of Dürer’s square, and apply the 4-color decomposition theorem.
Note the symmetry of the set of 3 line diagrams that result.

Now consider the 4-sets 1-4, 5-8, 9-12, and 13-16, and note that these
occupy the same positions in the Donmoyer square that 4-sets of
like elements occupy in the diamond-puzzle figure below—


Thus the Donmoyer array also enjoys the structural  symmetry,
invariant under 322,560 transformations, of the diamond-puzzle figure.

Just as the decomposition theorem’s interpenetrating lines  explain the structure
of a 4×4 square , the foreground’s interpenetrating planes  explain the structure
of a 2x2x2 cube .

For an application to theology, recall that interpenetration  is a technical term
in that field, and see the following post from last year—

Saturday, June 25, 2011 

Theology for Antichristmas

— m759 @ 12:00 PM

Hypostasis (philosophy)

“… the formula ‘Three Hypostases  in one Ousia
came to be everywhere accepted as an epitome
of the orthodox doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
This consensus, however, was not achieved
without some confusion….” —Wikipedia



Click for further details:



Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Another Reappearing Number

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 12:25 PM

(A sequel to yesterday's reappearing number)

25 —

5x5 ultra super magic square

See "Quine, Newton, logic" in this journal.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

True Grid (continued)

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:00 PM

"Rosetta Stone" as a Metaphor
  in Mathematical Narratives

For some backgound, see Mathematics and Narrative from 2005.

Yesterday's posts on mathematics and narrative discussed some properties
of the 3×3 grid (also known as the ninefold square ).

For some other properties, see (at the college-undergraduate, or MAA, level)–
Ezra Brown, 2001, "Magic Squares, Finite Planes, and Points of Inflection on Elliptic Curves."

His conclusion:

When you are done, you will be able to arrange the points into [a] 3×3 magic square,
which resembles the one in the book [5] I was reading on elliptic curves….

This result ties together threads from finite geometry, recreational mathematics,
combinatorics, calculus, algebra, and number theory. Quite a feat!

5. Viktor Prasolov and Yuri Solvyev, Elliptic Functions and Elliptic Integrals ,
    American Mathematical Society, 1997.

Brown fails to give an important clue to the historical background of this topic —
the word Hessian . (See, however, this word in the book on elliptic functions that he cites.)

Investigation of this word yields a related essay at the graduate-student, or AMS, level–
Igor Dolgachev and Michela Artebani, 2009, "The Hesse Pencil of Plane Cubic Curves ."

From the Dolgachev-Artebani introduction–

In this paper we discuss some old and new results about the widely known Hesse
  of 9 points and 12 lines in the projective plane P2(k ): each point lies
on 4 lines and each line contains 3 points, giving an abstract configuration (123, 94).

PlanetMath.org on the Hesse configuration


A picture of the Hesse configuration–

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/grid3x3med.bmp” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

(See Visualizing GL(2,p), a note from 1985).

Related notes from this journal —

From last November —

Saturday, November 13, 2010


m759 @ 10:12 PM

From the December 2010 American Mathematical Society Notices


Related material from this  journal—

Mathematics and Narrative and

Consolation Prize (August 19, 2010)

From 2006 —

Sunday December 10, 2006


 m759 @ 9:00 PM

A Miniature Rosetta Stone:

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix05B/grid3x3med.bmp” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

“Function defined form, expressed in a pure geometry
that the eye could easily grasp in its entirety.”

– J. G. Ballard on Modernism
(The Guardian , March 20, 2006)

“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance –
it is the illusion of knowledge.”

— Daniel J. Boorstin,
Librarian of Congress, quoted in Beyond Geometry

Also from 2006 —

Sunday November 26, 2006


m759 @ 7:26 AM

Rosalind Krauss
in "Grids," 1979:

"If we open any tract– Plastic Art and Pure Plastic Art  or The Non-Objective World , for instance– we will find that Mondrian and Malevich are not discussing canvas or pigment or graphite or any other form of matter.  They are talking about Being or Mind or Spirit.  From their point of view, the grid is a staircase to the Universal, and they are not interested in what happens below in the Concrete.

Or, to take a more up-to-date example…."

"He was looking at the nine engravings and at the circle,
checking strange correspondences between them."
The Club Dumas ,1993

"And it's whispered that soon if we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason."
Robert Plant ,1971

The nine engravings of The Club Dumas
(filmed as "The Ninth Gate") are perhaps more
an example of the concrete than of the universal.

An example of the universal*– or, according to Krauss,
a "staircase" to the universal– is the ninefold square:

The image “http://www.log24.com/theory/images/grid3x3.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

"This is the garden of Apollo, the field of Reason…."
John Outram, architect    

For more on the field of reason, see
Log24, Oct. 9, 2006.

A reasonable set of "strange correspondences"
in the garden of Apollo has been provided by
Ezra Brown in a mathematical essay (pdf).

Unreason is, of course, more popular.

* The ninefold square is perhaps a "concrete universal" in the sense of Hegel:

"Two determinations found in all philosophy are the concretion of the Idea and the presence of the spirit in the same; my content must at the same time be something concrete, present. This concrete was termed Reason, and for it the more noble of those men contended with the greatest enthusiasm and warmth. Thought was raised like a standard among the nations, liberty of conviction and of conscience in me. They said to mankind, 'In this sign thou shalt conquer,' for they had before their eyes what had been done in the name of the cross alone, what had been made a matter of faith and law and religion– they saw how the sign of the cross had been degraded."

– Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy ,
   "Idea of a Concrete Universal Unity"

"For every kind of vampire,
there is a kind of cross."
– Thomas Pynchon   

And from last October —

Friday, October 8, 2010


m759 @ 12:00 PM

Starting Out in the Evening
… and Finishing Up at Noon

This post was suggested by last evening's post on mathematics and narrative and by Michiko Kakutani on Vargas Llosa in this morning's New York Times .



Above: Frank Langella in
"Starting Out in the Evening"

Right: Johnny Depp in
"The Ninth Gate"


"One must proceed cautiously, for this road— of truth and falsehood in the realm of fiction— is riddled with traps and any enticing oasis is usually a mirage."

– "Is Fiction the Art of Lying?"* by Mario Vargas Llosa,
    New York Times  essay of October 7, 1984

* The Web version's title has a misprint—
   "living" instead of "lying."

"You've got to pick up every stitch…"

Saturday, May 1, 2010

An Education

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 AM



Made famous by Ursula K. Le Guin
as the book title "Lathe of Heaven,"
this Chinese phrase, tianjun, apparently
means something more like "Scales of Heaven"–
an appropriate image for Law Day 2010.

Image--Scales (the legal symbol)

An anonymous forum user says that

"…if you switch the two characters around,
you get: 鈞天, which is one of
the nine heavens, more specifically,
the middle heaven."

This is supported by a
non-anonymous source:

"I follow A.C. Graham’s translation of
Juntian as 'Level Heaven (the innermost
of the nine divisions of heaven)';
he renders Juntian guangyue as
'the mighty music of the innermost heaven.'"

— "Music in the World of Su Shi (1037-1101):
," by Stuart H. Sargent,
Colorado State University,
Journal of Sung-Yuan Studies 32 (2002), 39-81

The Nine Divisions of Heaven–

Image-- Routledge Encyclopedia of Taoism, Vol. I, on the Nine Heavens, 'jiutian,' ed. by Fabrizio Pregadio

Some context–

The 3x3 ('ninefold') square

"This pattern is a square divided into nine equal parts.
It has been called the 'Holy Field' division and
was used throughout Chinese history for many
different purposes, most of which were connected
with things religious, political, or philosophical."

The Magic Square: Cities in Ancient China,
by Alfred Schinz, Edition Axel Menges, 1996, p. 71

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday August 18, 2008

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 9:00 AM
The Revelation Game

(See also Jung’s birthday.)

Google logo, Aug. 18, 2008: Dragon playing Olympic ping pong

Lotteries on
August 17,
(No revelation)
New York
(No belief)
No belief,
no revelation



4 9 2
3 5 7
8 1 6

(See below.)

without belief



in Toronto

Belief without


on Grace

(See below.)

Belief and



and Art

No belief, no revelation:
An encounter with “492”–

“What is combinatorial mathematics? Combinatorial mathematics, also referred to as combinatorial analysis or combinatorics, is a mathematical discipline that began in ancient times. According to legend the Chinese Emperor Yu (c. 2200 B.C.) observed the magic square

4 9 2
3 5 7
8 1 6

on the shell of a divine turtle….”

— H.J. Ryser, Combinatorial Mathematics, Mathematical Association of America, Carus Mathematical Monographs 14 (1963)

Belief without revelation:
Theology and human experience,
and the experience of “272”–

From Christian Tradition Today,
by Jeffrey C. K. Goh
(Peeters Publishers, 2004), p. 438:

“Insisting that theological statements are not simply deduced from human experience, Rahner nevertheless stresses the experience of grace as the ‘real, fundamental reality of Christianity itself.’ 272

272  ‘Grace’ is a key category in Rahner’s theology.  He has expended a great deal of energy on this topic, earning himself the title, amongst others, of a ‘theologian of the graced search for meaning.’ See G. B. Kelly (ed.), Karl Rahner, in The Making of Modern Theology series (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1992).”

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesday June 24, 2008

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 1:00 PM
Random Walk with
X's and O's

Part I: Random Walk

NY Lottery June 23, 2008: Mid-day 322, Evening 000

Part II: X's


Actor contemplating the Chi-rho Page of the Book of Kells

"Shakespeare, Rilke, Joyce,
Beckett and Levi-Strauss are
instances of authors for whom
chiasmus and chiastic thinking
are of central importance,
for whom chiasmus is a
generator of meaning,
tool of discovery and
  philosophical template."
— Chiasmus in the
Drama of Life

Part III: O's —

A Cartoon Graveyard
in honor of the late
Gene Persson

Today's Garfield

Garfield cartoon of June 24, 2008

See also
Midsummer Eve's Dream:

"The meeting is closed
with the lord's prayer
and refreshments are served."

Producer of plays and musicals
including Album and
The Ruling Class

Lower case in honor of
Peter O'Toole, star of
the film version of
The Ruling Class.

(This film, together with
O'Toole's My Favorite Year,
may be regarded as epitomizing
Hollywood's Jesus for Jews.)

Those who prefer
less randomness
in their religion
 may consult O'Toole's
more famous film work
involving Islam,
as well as
the following structure
discussed here on
the date of Persson's death:

5x5 ultra super magic square

"The Moslems thought of the
central 1 as being symbolic
of the unity of Allah.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday June 6, 2008

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 2:45 AM
The Dance of Chance

"Harvard seniors have
every right to demand a
    Harvard-calibre speaker."

— Adam Goldenberg in
The Harvard Crimson

"Look down now, Cotton Mather"

— Wallace Stevens,
Harvard College
Class of 1901

For Thursday, June 5, 2008,
commencement day for Harvard's
Class of 2008, here are the
Pennsylvania Lottery numbers:

Mid-day 025
Evening 761

Thanks to the late
Harvard professor
Willard Van Orman Quine,
the mid-day number 025
suggests the name
"Isaac Newton."

(For the logic of this suggestion,
see On Linguistic Creation
and Raiders of the Lost Matrix.)

Thanks to Google search, the
  name of Newton, combined with
  Thursday's evening number 761,
suggests the following essay:

Science 10 August 2007:
Vol. 317. no. 5839, pp. 761-762

The Cha-Cha-Cha Theory
of Scientific Discovery

Daniel E. Koshland Jr.*

* D. E. Koshland Jr. passed away on 23 July 2007. He was a professor of biochemistry and molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, since 1965. He served as Science's editor-in-chief from 1985 to 1995.

What can a non-scientist add?

Perhaps the Log24 entries for
the date of Koshland's death:

The Philosopher's Stone
and The Rock.

Or perhaps the following

On the figure of 25 parts
discussed in
"On Linguistic Creation"–

5x5 ultra super magic square

"The Moslems thought of the
central 1 as being symbolic
of the unity of Allah.

— Clifford Pickover  

"At the still point,
there the dance is.

— T. S. Eliot,
Harvard College
Class of 1910

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Tuesday June 29, 2004

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 2:22 PM
And So To Bed

Advanced Study (6/26/04), continued…

Part I: Ulysses


Going to dark bed there was a square round Sinbad the Sailor roc’s auk’s egg in the night of the bed of all the auks of the rocs of Darkinbad the Brightdayler.


The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix04A/bullet.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Ulysses, conclusion of Ch. 17

Part II: Badcoc

A Visual Meditation for
the Feast of St. Peter

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix04A/040629-Badcoc.gif” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

For further details on this structure, see

Magic Squares, Finite Planes,
and Points of Inflection
on Elliptic Curves
by Ezra Brown, and

Visualizing GL(2, p)
by Steven H. Cullinane.

For a more literary approach
to this structure, see

Balanchine’s Birthday (Jan. 9, 2003),
Art Theory for Yom Kippur (Oct. 5, 2003),
A Form (May 22, 2004),
Ineluctable (May 27, 2004),
A Form, continued (June 5, 2004),
Parallelisms (June 6, 2004),
Deep Game (June 26, 2004), and
Gameplayers of Zen (June 27, 2004).

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix04A/040629-Players.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

To appreciate fully this last entry
on Gameplayers,
one must understand
the concept of “suicide”
in the game of Go

and be reminded
by the fatuous phrase of the
Institute of Contemporary Art
quoted in Gameplayers
encompassed by ‘nothing’ ” —
of John 1:5.

The image “http://www.log24.com/log/pix04A/040629-Commentary.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Tuesday July 1, 2003

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 5:37 PM

Jew’s on First

This entry is dedicated to those worshippers of Allah who have at one time or another cried
Itbah al-Yahud!” … Kill the Jew!
(See June 29 entries).

Dead at 78

Comedian Buddy Hackett died on Tuesday, July First, 2003, according to the New York Times.  According to Bloomberg.com, he died Sunday or Monday.

Associated Press

Buddy Hackett,
on the set of
“It’s a Mad, Mad,
Mad, Mad
in 1962.

Whatever.  We may imagine he has now walked, leading a parade of many other stand-up saints, into a bar.

Hepburn at Chaillot

for Buddy Hackett

From my May 25 entry,

Matrix of the Death God:

R. M. Abraham’s Diversions and Pastimes, published by Constable and Company, London, in 1933, has the following magic square:

The Matrix of Abraham

A summary of the religious import of the above from Princeton University Press:

“Moslems of the Middle Ages were fascinated by pandiagonal squares with 1 in the center…. The Moslems thought of the central 1 as being symbolic of the unity of Allah.  Indeed, they were so awed by that symbol that they often left blank the central cell on which the 1 should be positioned.”

— Clifford A. Pickover, The Zen of Magic Squares, Circles, and Stars, Princeton U. Press, 2002, pp. 71-72

Other appearances of this religious icon on the Web include:

On Linguistic Creation

Picasso’s Birthday

1991 Yearbook
Rolling Stone


In the Picasso’s Birthday version, 22 of the 25 magic square cells are correlated with pictures on the “Class of ’91” cover of Rolling Stone magazine.  Number 7 is Rod Stewart.  In accordance with the theological rhyme “Seven is heaven, eight is a gate,” our site music for today is “Forever Young,” a tune made famous by Stewart.

Roderick, actually   the name of the hero in “Madwoman of Chaillot”

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Sunday May 25, 2003

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 7:11 PM


Mental Health Month, Day 25:

Matrix of the Death God

Having dealt yesterday with the Death Goddess Sarah, we turn today to the Death God Abraham.  (See Jacques Derrida, The Gift of Death, University of Chicago Press, 1996.)  For a lengthy list of pictures of this damned homicidal lunatic about to murder his son, see The Text This Week.


See, too, The Matrix of Abraham, illustrated below.  This is taken from a book by R. M. Abraham, Diversions and Pastimes, published by Constable and Company, London, in 1933.

The Matrix of Abraham

A summary of the religious import of the above from Princeton University Press:

“Moslems of the Middle Ages were fascinated by pandiagonal squares with 1 in the center…. The Moslems thought of the central 1 as being symbolic of the unity of Allah.  Indeed, they were so awed by that symbol that they often left blank the central cell on which the 1 should be positioned.”

— Clifford A. Pickover, The Zen of Magic Squares, Circles, and Stars, Princeton U. Press, 2002, pp. 71-72

Other appearances of this religious icon on the Web:

On Linguistic Creation

Picasso’s Birthday

A less religious approach to the icon may be found on page 393 of R. D. Carmichael’s Introduction to the Theory of Groups of Finite Order (Ginn, Boston, 1937, reprinted by Dover, 1956).

This matrix did not originate with Abraham but, unlike Neo, I have not yet found its Architect.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

A Singular Eye

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 8:08 PM

Photographer Key Heyman, 89, dies

Cover design by Will Staehle.

Heyman reportedly died on Dec. 10, 2019.
See this  journal  on that date.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Art-Historical Narrative*

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 9:25 PM

"Leonardo was something like what we now call a Conceptual artist,
maybe the original one.   Ideas —  experiments, theories —  were
creative ends in themselves."

— Holland Cotter in the online New York TImes  this evening

From other Log24 posts tagged Tetrahedron vs. Square —

* Phrase from the previous post, "Overarching Narrative."

Overarching Narrative

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 8:13 PM

In memory of a retired co-director of Galerie St. Etienne
who reportedly died on October 17 . . .

"It is difficult to mount encyclopedic exhibitions
without an overarching art-historical narrative…."

—  Jane Kallir, director of Galerie St. Etienne, in

An overarching narrative from the above death date

See as well the previous post 
and "Dancing at Lughnasa."

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Dance of the Fire Temple

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 10:13 AM

The previous post, Tetrahedron Dance, suggests a review of . . .

A figure from St. Patrick's Day 2004 that might
represent a domed  roof 

Inscribed Carpenter's Square:

In Latin, NORMA

 and a cinematic "Fire Temple" from 2019 

In related news . . .

Related background "e. e. cummings" in this  journal.

Tetrahedron Dance

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — m759 @ 9:42 AM

John Lithgow in "The Tomorrow Man" (2019)

" connect the dots…."

IMAGE- 'The geometry of the dance' is that of a tetrahedron, according to Peter Pesic

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Joy of Six

Note that in the pictures below of the 15 two-subsets of a six-set,
the symbols 1 through 6 in Hudson's square array of 1905 occupy the
same positions as the anticommuting Dirac matrices in Arfken's 1985
square array. Similarly occupying these positions are the skew lines
within a generalized quadrangle (a line complex) inside PG(3,2).

Anticommuting Dirac matrices as spreads of projective lines

Related narrative The "Quantum Tesseract Theorem."

Monday, October 7, 2019


Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 1:09 PM

(A sequel to Simplex Sigillum Veri and 
Rabbit Hole Meets Memory Hole)

" Wittgenstein does not, however, relegate all that is not inside the bounds
of sense to oblivion. He makes a distinction between saying  and showing  
which is made to do additional crucial work. 'What can be shown cannot
be said,' that is, what cannot be formulated in sayable (sensical)
propositions can only be shown. This applies, for example, to the logical
form of the world, the pictorial form, etc., which show themselves in the
form of (contingent) propositions, in the symbolism, and in logical
propositions. Even the unsayable (metaphysical, ethical, aesthetic)
propositions of philosophy belong in this group — which Wittgenstein
finally describes as 'things that cannot be put into words. They make
themselves manifest. They are what is mystical' " (Tractatus  6.522).

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy , "Ludwig Wittgenstein"

From Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus  by Ludwig Wittgenstein.

(First published in Annalen der Naturphilosophie ,1921.
English edition first published 1922 by Kegan Paul, Trench and Trübner. This translation first published 1961 by Routledge & Kegan Paul. Revised edition 1974.)


The solutions of the problems of logic must be simple, since they set the standard of simplicity.

Men have always had a presentiment that there must be a realm in which the answers to questions are symmetrically combined — a priori — to form a self-contained system.

A realm subject to the law: Simplex sigillum veri.

Somehow, the old Harvard seal, with its motto "Christo et Ecclesiae ,"
was deleted from a bookplate in an archived Harvard copy of Whitehead's 
The Axioms of Projective Geometry  (Cambridge U. Press, 1906).

In accordance with Wittgenstein's remarks above, here is a new
bookplate seal for Whitehead, based on a simplex

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Midnight Landmarks

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 12:00 AM

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

A Long Literary Tradition

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:38 PM

"There's a long literary tradition associating
certain kinds of geometry with horror."

— American Mathematical Society yesterday:

See also yesterday's Log24 post "Transylvania Revisited."

A related post —

Harvard Showbiz.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Stage Direction: “Comments Off.”

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 11:29 AM

The previous post dealt with magic” cubes, so called because of the
analogous “magicsquares. Douglas Hofstadter has written about a
different, physical , object, promoted as “the  Magic Cube,” that Hofstadter
felt embodied “a deep invariant”:

Friday, September 27, 2019

Algebra for Schoolgirls

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 8:37 AM

The 15 points of the finite projective 3-space PG(3,2)
arranged in tetrahedral form:

The letter labels, but not the tetrahedral form,
are from The Axioms of Projective Geometry , by
Alfred North Whitehead (Cambridge U. Press, 1906).

The above space PG(3,2), because of its close association with
Kirkman's schoolgirl problem, might be called "schoolgirl space."

Screen Rant  on July 31, 2019:

A Google Search sidebar this morning:

Apocalypse Soon!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Personalities …

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 8:06 AM

For Dan Brown 

It’s a combination of elation and fear, a certain kind of terror,”
Dr. Scott-Warren, a lecturer at Cambridge University, said
Thursday [Sept. 19] in an interview, describing his feelings.

“As a scholar, you get a sense of the fixed landmarks,” he said.
“Suddenly to have a new landmark to come right up through
the ground is quite disconcerting; there’s something alarming
about that.”

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Language Game

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 9:28 AM

Previous posts now tagged Pyramid Game suggest

A possible New Yorker  caption:   " e . . . (ab) . . . (cd) . "

Caption Origins —

Playing with shapes related to some 1906 work of Whitehead:

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 8:04 PM

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Tetrahedral Structures

Filed under: General — Tags:  —
m759 @ 8:11 PM 

In memory of a Church emissary  who reportedly died on  September 4 . . . .

Playing with shapes related to some 1906 work of Whitehead:

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Annals of Random Fandom

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 5:46 PM

For Dan Brown fans …

… and, for fans of The Matrix, another tale
from the above death date: May 16, 2019 —

An illustration from the above
Miracle Octad Generator post:

Related mathematics — Tetrahedron vs. Square.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Inappropriate Capstone

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 4:59 AM

The All-Night Record Player

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 4:00 AM

See "Politics of Experience" and "Blue Guitar."

IMAGE- Scene from 'Oblivion' (2013) 

Friday, September 13, 2019

Schoolgirl Space…

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 4:56 AM

According to Wikipedia

See also Schoolgirl Space in this journal.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Tetrahedral Structures

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 8:11 PM

In memory of a Church emissary who reportedly died on September 4,
here is a Log24 flashback reposted on that date —

Related poetry —

"To every man upon this earth,
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
and the temples of his gods…?"

— Macaulay, quoted in the April 2013 film "Oblivion"

Related fiction —

Thursday, August 15, 2019

On Steiner Quadruple Systems of Order 16

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 4:11 AM

An image from a Log24 post of March 5, 2019

Cullinane's 1978  square model of PG(3,2)

The following paragraph from the above image remains unchanged
as of this morning at Wikipedia:

"A 3-(16,4,1) block design has 140 blocks of size 4 on 16 points,
such that each triplet of points is covered exactly once. Pick any
single point, take only the 35 blocks containing that point, and
delete that point. The 35 blocks of size 3 that remain comprise
a PG(3,2) on the 15 remaining points."

Exercise —

Prove or disprove the above assertion about a general "3-(16,4,1) 
block design," a structure also known as a Steiner quadruple system
(as I pointed out in the March 5 post).

Relevant literature —

A paper from Helsinki in 2005* says there are more than a million
3-(16,4,1) block designs, of which only one has an automorphism
group of order 322,560. This is the affine 4-space over GF(2),
from which PG(3,2) can be derived using the well-known process
from finite geometry described in the above Wikipedia paragraph.

* "The Steiner quadruple systems of order 16," by Kaski et al.,
   Journal of Combinatorial Theory Series A  
Volume 113, Issue 8, 
   November 2006, pages 1764-1770.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Schoolgirl Space* Revisited:

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 10:51 PM

The Square "Inscape" Model of
the Generalized Quadrangle W(2)

Click image to enlarge.

* The title refers to the role of PG (3,2) in Kirkman's schoolgirl problem.
For some backstory, see my post Anticommuting Dirac Matrices as Skew Lines
and, more generally, posts tagged Dirac and Geometry.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Artsy Quantum Realm

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 6:38 PM

arXiv.org > quant-ph > arXiv:1905.06914 

Quantum Physics

Placing Kirkman's Schoolgirls and Quantum Spin Pairs on the Fano Plane: A Rainbow of Four Primary Colors, A Harmony of Fifteen Tones

J. P. Marceaux, A. R. P. Rau

(Submitted on 14 May 2019)

A recreational problem from nearly two centuries ago has featured prominently in recent times in the mathematics of designs, codes, and signal processing. The number 15 that is central to the problem coincidentally features in areas of physics, especially in today's field of quantum information, as the number of basic operators of two quantum spins ("qubits"). This affords a 1:1 correspondence that we exploit to use the well-known Pauli spin or Lie-Clifford algebra of those fifteen operators to provide specific constructions as posed in the recreational problem. An algorithm is set up that, working with four basic objects, generates alternative solutions or designs. The choice of four base colors or four basic chords can thus lead to color diagrams or acoustic patterns that correspond to realizations of each design. The Fano Plane of finite projective geometry involving seven points and lines and the tetrahedral three-dimensional simplex of 15 points are key objects that feature in this study.

Comments:16 pages, 10 figures

Subjects:Quantum Physics (quant-ph)

Cite as:arXiv:1905.06914 [quant-ph]

 (or arXiv:1905.06914v1 [quant-ph] for this version)

Submission history

From: A. R. P. Rau [view email] 
[v1] Tue, 14 May 2019 19:11:49 UTC (263 KB)

See also other posts tagged Tetrahedron vs. Square.

Life in Palermo

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 9:55 AM

See also other posts tagged Tetrahedron vs. Square, and a related
Log24 search for "Schoolgirl + Space."

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Live from New York, It’s …

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , — m759 @ 11:30 PM

Curse of the Fire Temple

"Power outages hit parts of Manhattan
plunging subways, Broadway, into darkness"

New York Post  this evening

Which Roof?

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 10:15 AM

Related material — Tetrahedron vs. Square and Cézanne's Greetings

Compare and contrast:

A figure from St. Patrick's Day 2004 that might represent a domed  roof

Inscribed Carpenter's Square:

In Latin, NORMA

and a cinematic "Fire Temple" from 2019

Friday, July 12, 2019

Holloway Today

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 8:23 AM

"The area is home to many artists and people who work in
 the media, including many journalists, writers and professionals 
working in film and television." — Wikipedia

Tusen takk to My Square Lady —

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Perception of Space

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 10:45 AM


The three previous posts have now been tagged . . .

Tetrahedron vs. Square  and  Triangle vs. Cube.

Related material —

Tetrahedron vs. Square:

Labeling the Tetrahedral Model  (Click to enlarge) —

Triangle vs. Cube:

and, from the date of the above John Baez remark —


Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 4:27 AM

“I am always the figure in someone else’s dream. I would really rather
sometimes make my own figures and make my own dreams.”

— John Malkovich at squarespace.com, January 10, 2017

Also on that date . . .


Monday, July 8, 2019

Exploring Schoolgirl Space

See also "Quantum Tesseract Theorem" and "The Crosswicks Curse."

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Schoolgirl Problem

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 11:18 PM

Anonymous remarks on the schoolgirl problem at Wikipedia —

"This solution has a geometric interpretation in connection with 
Galois geometry and PG(3,2). Take a tetrahedron and label its
vertices as 0001, 0010, 0100 and 1000. Label its six edge centers
as the XOR of the vertices of that edge. Label the four face centers
as the XOR of the three vertices of that face, and the body center
gets the label 1111. Then the 35 triads of the XOR solution correspond
exactly to the 35 lines of PG(3,2). Each day corresponds to a spread
and each week to a packing

See also Polster + Tetrahedron in this  journal.

There is a different "geometric interpretation in connection with
Galois geometry and PG(3,2)" that uses a square  model rather
than a tetrahedral  model. The square  model of PG(3,2) last
appeared in the schoolgirl-problem article on Feb. 11, 2017, just
before a revision that removed it.

Friday, July 5, 2019

“Darkly Enchanting”

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 11:05 PM

For the Church of Synchronology

Thursday, July 4, 2019

From Devil’s Night 2014

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:59 AM

And now, General, time presses; and America is in a hurry.
Have you realized that though you may occupy towns and win battles,
you cannot conquer a nation? — The Devil's Disciple

A figure related to Dürer's "magic" square posted during Devil's Night —

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Zen and the Art

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 6:13 PM

Or:  Burning Bright

A post in memory of Chicago architect Stanley Tigerman,
who reportedly died at 88 on Monday.

“Hello the Camp”

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:20 AM

The title is a quotation from the 2015 film "Mojave."

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Secret Characters

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , — m759 @ 2:23 PM

"Cell 461" quote from Curzio Malaparte superimposed on a scene from
the 1963 Godard film "Le Mépris " ("Contempt") —

"The architecture… beomes closely linked to the script…."

Malaparte's cell number , 461, is somewhat less closely  linked
to the phrase "eternal blazon" —

Irving was quoted here on Dec. 22, 2008

The Tale of
the Eternal Blazon

by Washington Irving

Blazon  meant originally a shield , and then
the heraldic bearings on a shield .
Later it was applied to the art of describing
or depicting heraldic bearings in the proper
manner; and finally the term came to signify 
ostentatious display  and also description or
record by words or other means 
. In Hamlet ,
Act I Sc. 5, the Ghost, while talking with
Prince Hamlet, says:

‘But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood.’

Eternal blazon  signifies revelation or description
of things pertaining to eternity 

— Irving’s Sketch Book , p. 461

Update of 6:25 PM ET —

"Self-Blazon of Edenic Plenitude"

(The Issuu text is taken from Speaking about Godard , by Kaja Silverman
and Harun Farocki, New York University Press, 1998, page 34.)

Sunday, January 7, 2018


Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 11:00 AM

Peter Zhang and Eric McLuhan on Interality

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Just the Facts

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 11:00 AM

The New Yorker  on the recent film "The Square"

"It’s an aesthetic that presents,
so to speak, just the facts, 
as if the facts themselves weren’t
deeply layered with living history
and crisscrossed with vectors
of divergent ideas and ideals."

— Richard Brody, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017

For other images deeply layered  and crisscrossed ,
see Geometry of the I Ching.

Dating Harvard

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 10:00 AM

See also this journal on today's date four years ago.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Design Grammar***

Filed under: G-Notes,General,Geometry — m759 @ 10:22 PM

The elementary shapes at the top of the figure below mirror
the looking-glass property  of the classical Lo Shu square.

The nine shapes at top left* and their looking-glass reflection
illustrate the looking-glass reflection relating two orthogonal
Latin squares over the three digits of modulo-three arithmetic.

Combining these two orthogonal Latin squares,** we have a
representation in base three of the numbers from 0 to 8.

Adding 1 to each of these numbers yields the Lo Shu square.

* The array at top left is from the cover of
Wonder Years:
Werkplaats Typografie 1998-2008

** A well-known construction.

*** For other instances of what might be
called "design grammar" in combinatorics,
see a slide presentation by Robin Wilson.
No reference to the work of Chomsky is

Monday, October 16, 2017

Halloween Meditation

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 7:27 PM

Box Office Report —

"Only a peculiar can enter a time loop."

'Only a peculiar can enter a time loop' — Nov. 21, 2016

A post from Halloween season seven years ago last Saturday

Related material — This morning's "Highway 61 Revisited."

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Reopening the Tesseract

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 11:27 AM

Dialogue from the film "Interstellar" —

Cooper: Did it work?

TARS: I think it might have.

Cooper: How do you know?

TARS: Because the bulk beings
            are closing the tesseract.

Related material — "Bulk apperception"
in this journal, and

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

In the Park with Yin and Yang

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 10:35 PM

In memory of an art dealer who 
reportedly died on Sunday, May 7—

Decorations for a Cartoon Graveyard

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Text and Context

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 2:11 PM

Some context for the previous post, which was about
a new Art Space  Pinterest board

Monday, May 8, 2017

New Pinterest Board

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 9:29 PM


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Art Space

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 1:00 PM

Detail of an image in the previous post

This suggests a review of a post on a work of art by fashion photographer
Peter Lindbergh, made when he was younger and known as "Sultan."

The balls in the foreground relate Sultan's work to my own.

Linguistic backstory —

The art space where the pieces by Talman and by Lindbergh
were displayed is Museum Tinguely in Basel.

As the previous post notes, the etymology of "glamour" (as in
fashion photography) has been linked to "grammar" (as in 
George Steiner's Grammars of Creation ). A sculpture by 
Tinguely (fancifully representing Heidegger) adorns one edition
of Grammars .

Yale University Press, 2001:

Tinguely, "Martin Heidegger,
Philosopher," sculpture, 1988

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Tetrahedral Death Star

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 10:00 PM

Continuing the "Memory, History, Geometry" theme
from yesterday

See Tetrahedral,  Oblivion,  and Tetrahedral Oblivion.

IMAGE- From 'Oblivion' (2013), the Mother Ship

"Welcome home, Jack."

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Folk Etymology

Images from Burkard Polster's Geometrical Picture Book

See as well in this journal the large  Desargues configuration, with
15 points and 20 lines instead of 10 points and 10 lines as above.

Exercise:  Can the large Desargues configuration be formed
by adding 5 points and 10 lines to the above Polster model
of the small configuration in such a way as to preserve
the small-configuration model's striking symmetry?  
(Note: The related figure below from May 21, 2014, is not
necessarily very helpful. Try the Wolfram Demonstrations
, which requires a free player download.)

Labeling the Tetrahedral Model (Click to enlarge) —

Related folk etymology (see point a  above) —

Related literature —

The concept  of "fire in the center" at The New Yorker , 
issue dated December 12, 2016, on pages 38-39 in the
poem by Marsha de la O titled "A Natural History of Light."

Cézanne's Greetings.

Friday, October 21, 2016


Filed under: General — m759 @ 9:25 AM

A sequel to last night's Chess Problem

See as well a related CV .

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Smallest Perfect Number/Universe

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , , — m759 @ 6:29 AM

The smallest perfect number,* six, meets
"the smallest perfect universe,"** PG(3,2).

IMAGE- Geometry of the Six-Set, Steven H. Cullinane, April 23, 2013

  * For the definition of "perfect number," see any introductory
    number-theory text that deals with the history of the subject.
** The phrase "smallest perfect universe" as a name for PG(3,2),
     the projective 3-space over the 2-element Galois field GF(2),
     was coined by math writer Burkard Polster. Cullinane's square
     model of PG(3,2) differs from the earlier tetrahedral model
     discussed by Polster.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Mystic Correspondence:

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 PM

The Cube and the Hexagram

The above illustration, by the late Harvey D. Heinz,
shows a magic cube* and a corresponding magic 
hexagram, or Star of David, with the six cube faces 
mapped to the six hexagram lines and the twelve  
cube edges mapped to the twelve hexagram points.
The eight cube vertices correspond to eight triangles
in the hexagram (six small and two large). 

Exercise:  Is this noteworthy mapping** of faces to lines, 
edges to points, and vertices to triangles an isolated 
phenomenon, or can it be viewed in a larger context?

* See the discussion at magic-squares.net of
   "perimeter-magic cubes"

** Apparently derived from the Cube + Hexagon figure
    discussed here in various earlier posts. See also
    "Diamonds and Whirls," a note from 1984.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Spring Play

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — m759 @ 4:24 PM

The spring play this March at Princeton's McCarter Theatre Center
was Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap."

In related news —

See as well, in this  journal, a post from the date pictured above,
that of the Disneyland Diamond Celebration on May 22, 2015 —

Donald Duck with pentagram

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Bell de Jour

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:00 PM

This journal on Saturday, Dec. 19

“By groping toward the light
 we are made to realize
 how deep the darkness
 is around us.”
— Arthur Koestler,
   The Call Girls: A Tragi-Comedy,
   Random House, 1973,
   page 118

In memory of Madame Claude, who
reportedly died in Nice December 19:

"There were fairies and spirits."


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Nunc Stans

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 9:00 PM

On conductor Kurt Masur, who reportedly died at 88
in Greenwich, Connecticut, today, Saturday, Dec.19, 2015 —

"Rehearsal conductor at Halle State Theater,
Saxony, East Germany, conductor at Erfurt City Theater
and Leipzig Opera, and guest conductor with Leipzig
and Dresden Radio orchestras, 1951-53…."

Motifs from yesterday's 9 PM post

Design from 1697

— and from a novel by Thomas Mann:

Design from 1514

Related text —

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 11:01 AM

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live." — Joan Didion

A post from St. Augustine's day, 2015, may serve to
illustrate this.

The post started with a look at a painting by Swiss artist
Wolf Barth, "Spielfeld." The painting portrays two
rectangular arrays, of four and of twelve subsquares
that sit atop a square array of sixteen subsquares.

To one familiar with Euclid's "bride's chair" proof of the
Pythagorean theorem, "Spielfeld" suggests a right triangle
with squares on its sides of areas 4, 12, and 16.

That image in turn suggests a diagram illustrating the fact
that a triangle suitably inscribed in a half-circle is a right 
triangle… in this case, a right triangle with angles of 30, 60,
and 90 degrees… Thus —

In memory of screenwriter John Gregory Dunne (husband
of Joan Didion and author of, among other things, The Studio
here is a cinematric approach to the above figure.

The half-circle at top suggests the dome of an observatory.
This in turn suggests a scene from the 2014 film "Magic in
the Moonlight."  

As she gazes at the silent universe above
through an opening in the dome, the silent
Emma Stone is perhaps thinking, 
prompted by her work with Spider-Man

"Drop me a line."

As he  gazes at the crack in the dome,
Stone's costar Colin Firth contrasts the vastness 
of the Universe with the smallness of Man, citing 

"the tiny field F2 with two elements."

In conclusion, recall the words of author Norman Mailer
that summarized his Harvard education —

"At times, bullshit can only be countered
with superior bullshit."

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Harrowing of Hell (continued)

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

Holy Saturday is, according to tradition, the day of 
the harrowing of Hell.


The above passage on "Die Figuren der vier Modi
im Magischen Quadrat 
" should be read in the context of
a Log24 post from last year's Devil's Night (the night of
October 30-31).  The post, "Structure," indicates that, using
the transformations of the diamond theorem, the notorious
"magic" square of Albrecht Dürer may be transformed
into normal reading order.  That order is only one of
322,560 natural reading orders for any 4×4 array of
symbols. The above four "modi" describe another.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pyramid Dance

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 10:00 AM

Oslo artist Josefine Lyche has a new Instagram post,
this time on pyramids (the monumental kind).

My response —

Wikipedia's definition of a tetrahedron as a
"triangle-based pyramid"

and remarks from a Log24 post of August 14, 2013 :

Norway dance (as interpreted by an American)

IMAGE- 'The geometry of the dance' is that of a tetrahedron, according to Peter Pesic

I prefer a different, Norwegian, interpretation of "the dance of four."

Related material:
The clash between square and tetrahedral versions of PG(3,2).

See also some of Burkard Polster's triangle-based pyramids
and a 1983 triangle-based pyramid in a paper that Polster cites —

(Click image below to enlarge.)

Some other illustrations that are particularly relevant
for Lyche, an enthusiast of magic :

From On Art and Magic (May 5, 2011) —





The Fano plane block design



The Deathly Hallows  symbol—
Two blocks short of  a design.


(Updated at about 7 PM ET on Dec. 3.)

Friday, October 31, 2014

For the Late Hans Schneider

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 3:30 AM

See a University of Wisconsin obituary for Schneider,
a leading expert on linear algebra who reportedly died
at 87 on Tuesday, October 28, 2014.

Some background on linear algebra and “magicsquares:
tonight’s 3 AM (ET) post and a search in this
journal for Knight, Death, and the Devil.

Click image to enlarge.


Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 3:00 AM

On Devil’s Night

Introducing a group of 322,560 affine transformations of Dürer’s ‘MagicSquare

IMAGE- Introduction to 322,560 Affine Transformations of Dürer's 'Magic' Square

The four vector-space substructures of digits in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th place,
together with the diamond theorem, indicate that Dürer’s square “minus one”
can be transformed by permutations of rows, columns, and quadrants to a
square with (decimal) digits in the usual numerical order, increasing from
top left to bottom right. Such permutations form a group of order 322,560.

(Continued from Vector Addition in a Finite Field, Twelfth Night, 2013.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Art as a Tool

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 12:35 PM

Two news items on art as a tool:

Two Log24 posts related to the 3×3 grid, the underlying structure for China’s
ancient Lo Shu magicsquare:

Finally, leftist art theorist Rosalind Krauss in this journal
on Anti-Christmas, 2010:

Which is the tool here, the grid or Krauss?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Diabolically Complex

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:00 PM

The title is from a Log24 post, "Diabolically Complex Riddle," of Sept. 27, 2014.

(See also a search for "Diabolic"  in this journal, which yields an application to
"magic" squares.)

From 'The Lost Theorem,' by Lee Sallows

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Remember me to…

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Herald Square.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Radio Days

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 11:29 AM

In memoriam :

“Margot Adler, an iconic NPR correspondent and Wiccan priestess,
died on Monday July 28 from endometrial cancer at the age of 68.”

Huffington Post 07/28/2014 5:39 pm EDT

See also Log24 posts tagged NPR Magic.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Useful Princeton

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 10:30 AM


"Numbers themselves are fictions, abstractions humans invented
to gain more control over the world." — Keith Devlin

Related material:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Thanks for having me on.

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 9:00 PM

See also this  journal on April 12, 2014.

Friday, April 25, 2014


Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:25 AM

For John Milton at the Cervecería XX —

Related material: Peter J. Cameron on Bertrand Russell
in A Midnight Exorcism.


Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 2:45 AM

Quoted here on April 11 —

“…direct access to the godhead, which
in this case was Creativity.”
— Tom Wolfe, From Bauhaus to Our House

From “Today in History: April 25, 2014,” by The Associated Press:

“Five years ago… University of Georgia professor
George Zinkhan, 57, shot and killed his wife
and two men outside a community theater in Athens
before taking his own life.”

Related material:

A Google Scholar search for Zinkhan’s 1993 paper,
Creativity in Advertising,” Journal of Advertising  22,2: 1-3 —

Obiter Dicta:

“Dour wit” — Obituary of a Scots herald who died on Palm Sunday

“Remember me to Herald Square.” — Song lyric

“Welcome to Scotland.” — Kincade in Skyfall

Monday, October 28, 2013

Harvard Anniversary

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:00 PM

From the AP Today in History  page
for October 28, 2013 —

IMAGE- Harvard founded Oct. 28.

From this journal seven years ago:

The Practical Cogitator


Sunday, August 11, 2013


Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 7:00 PM

IMAGE- Wolfram Demonstrations, '15 Point Projective Space'

IMAGE- From 'Oblivion' (2013), the Mother Ship

"Welcome home, Jack."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Vril Chick

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 4:30 AM

Profile picture of "Jo Lyxe" (Josefine Lyche) at Vimeo

Profile picture for "Jo Lyxe" (Josefine Lyche) at Vimeo

Compare to an image of Vril muse Maria Orsitsch.

From the catalog of a current art exhibition
(25 May – 31 August, 2013) in Norway,

Josefine Lyche
Born in 1973 in Bergen, Norway.
Lives and works in Oslo and Berlin.

Keywords (to help place my artwork in the
proper context): Aliens, affine geometry, affine
planes, affine spaces, automorphisms, binary
codes, block designs, classical groups, codes,
coding theory, collineations, combinatorial,
combinatorics, conjugacy classes, the Conwell
correspondence, correlations, Cullinane,
R. T. Curtis, design theory, the diamond theorem,
diamond theory, duads, duality, error correcting
codes, esoteric, exceptional groups,
extraterrestrials, finite fields, finite geometry, finite
groups, finite rings, Galois fields, generalized
quadrangles, generators, geometry, GF(2),
GF(4), the (24,12) Golay code, group actions,
group theory, Hadamard matrices, hypercube,
hyperplanes, hyperspace, incidence structures,
invariance, Karnaugh maps, Kirkman’s schoolgirls
problem, Latin squares, Leech lattice, linear
groups, linear spaces, linear transformations,
Magick, Mathieu groups, matrix theory, Meno,
Miracle Octad Generator, MOG, multiply transitive
groups, occultism, octahedron, the octahedral
group, Orsic, orthogonal arrays, outer automorphisms,
parallelisms, partial geometries,
permutation groups, PG(3,2), Plato, Platonic
solids, polarities, Polya-Burnside theorem, projective
geometry, projective planes, projective
spaces, projectivities, Pythagoras, reincarnation,
Reed-Muller codes, the relativity problem,
reverse engineering, sacred geometry, Singer
cycle, skew lines, Socrates, sporadic simple
groups, Steiner systems, Sylvester, symmetric,
symmetry, symplectic, synthemes, synthematic,
Theosophical Society tesseract, Tessla, transvections,
Venn diagrams, Vril society, Walsh
functions, Witt designs.

(See also the original catalog page.)

Clearly most of this (the non-highlighted parts) was taken
from my webpage Diamond Theory. I suppose I should be
flattered, but I am not thrilled to be associated with the
(apparently fictional) Vril Society.

For some background, see (for instance) 
Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies for Dummies .

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 10:10 AM

“I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul….

— Hamlet’s Father’s Ghost

The results of a search in this journal for “a tale unfold” suggest
a review of the following passage from Donna Tartt’s Secret History

A math weblog discussed this passage on January 24, 2013.
For related alliances, see this  weblog on that same date.

Monday, June 24, 2013

What Dreams

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 10:00 PM

“For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.” — Hamlet

Sleep well, Mr. Matheson.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Brazil Revisited

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 PM

Yesterday's post Treasure Hunt, on a Brazilian weblog,
suggests a review of Brazil  in this journal.  The post
most relevant to yesterday's remarks is from
August 15, 2003, with a link, now broken, to the work
of Brazilian artist Nicole Sigaud* that also uses the
four half-square tiles used in 1704 by Sebastien Truchet 
and somewhat later by myself in Diamond Theory 
(see a 1977 version).

A more recent link that works:






© 1997 – 2002 Nicole Sigaud

* Sigaud shares the interests of her fellow Brazilian
   whose weblog was the subject of yesterday's
   Treasure Hunt.—

   "For many years I have dedicated myself to the study
    of medieval magic, demonology, Kabbalah, Astrology,
    Alchemy, Tarot and divination in general."

     — Nicole Sigaud (translated by Google) in a self-profile: 

    I do not share the interest of these authors in such matters,
    except as they are reflected in the works of authors like
    Charles Williams and Umberto Eco.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Knight’s Labyrinth

Filed under: General — Tags: , — m759 @ 9:29 AM

A magic— indeed, diabolic— square:

IMAGE- 5x5 magic- in fact, diabolic- square

For the construction, see a book
by W. W. Rouse Ball, founding president
of a Cambridge University magic society.

For some related religious remarks,
see Raiders of the Lost Matrix.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bend Sinister

Filed under: General — m759 @ 6:30 AM

This morning's New York Times  obituaries—

These suggest a look at Solving Nabokov's Lolita Riddle ,
by Joanne Morgan (Sydney: Cosynch Press, 2005).

That book discusses Lolita as a character like Lewis Carroll's Alice.

(The Red Queen and Alice of course correspond to figures in
the first two thumbnails above.)

From the obituary associated with the third thumbnail above:

"Front-page headlines combined concision and dark humor." 

The title of this post, Bend Sinister , is not unlike such a headline.
It is the title of a novel by Nabokov (often compared with Orwell's 1984 )
that is discussed in the Lolita Riddle  book.

Related material— The bend sinister found in Log24 searches
for Hexagram 14 and for the phrase Hands-On

IMAGE- Magician's hands on his wand, viewed as a diagonal of a square

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wand Work

Filed under: General — m759 @ 7:59 PM

The New York Times  today—
 "Reality and our perception of it are incommensurate…."

IMAGE- NY Times Wire item- 'Your Mind on Magic,' by Alex Stone

The above New York Times Wire  item from 3:35 PM ET today
mentions two topics touched on in today's earlier Log24 post
Bowling in Diagon Alley— magic (implied by the title) and
incommensurability. The connection in that post
between the two topics is the diagonal  of a square.

The  wire item shows one detail from a Times  illustration
of the linked article— a blindfolded woman.

Another detail from the same illustration—

IMAGE- Magician's hands on his wand, viewed as a diagonal of a square (or as Hexagram 14 in the box-style I Ching

Hands-on Wand Work

See also remarks on Magic in this journal and on Harry Potter.

I dislike both topics.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Sweet Smell of Avon

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 9:48 AM

IMAGE- NY Times on 'Narrowing the Definition of Autism'

The twin topics of autism and of narrowing definitions
suggested the following remarks.

The mystical number "318" in the pilot episode
of Kiefer Sutherland's new series about autism, "Touch,"
is so small that it can easily apply (as the pilot
illustrated) to many different things: a date, a
time, a bus number, an address, etc.

The last 3/18 Log24 post— Defining Configurations
led, after a false start and some further research,
to the writing of the webpage Configurations and Squares.

An image from that page—

IMAGE- Coxeter 3x3 array with rows labeled 287/501/346.

Interpreting this, in an autistic manner, as the number
287501346 lets us search for more specific items
than those labeled simply 318.

The search yields, among other things, an offer of
Night Magic Cologne  (unsold)—

IMAGE- Online offer of Avon Night Magic Cologne- 'The mystery and magic of the night is yours.'

For further mystery and magic, see, from the date
the Night Magic offer closed— May 8, 2010— "A Better Story."
See also the next day's followup, "The Ninth Gate."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mathematics and Narrative, continued

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 6:29 AM

The Story of N


Roberta Smith in the New York Times  of July 7, 2006

Art Review

Endgame Art? It's Borrow, Sample and Multiply in an Exhibition at Bard College

"… The show has an endgame, end-time mood, as if we are looking at the end of the end of the end of Pop, hyperrealism and appropriation art. The techniques of replication and copying have become so meticulous that they are beside the point. This is truly magic realism: the kind you can't see, that has to be explained. It is also a time when artists cultivate hybridism and multiplicity and disdain stylistic coherence, in keeping with the fashionable interest in collectivity, lack of ego, the fluidity of individual identity. But too often these avoidance tactics eliminate the thread of a personal sensibility or focus.

I would call all these strategies fear of form, which can be parsed as fear of materials, of working with the hands in an overt way and of originality. Most of all originality. Can we just say it? This far from Andy Warhol and Duchamp, the dismissal of originality is perhaps the oldest ploy in the postmodern playbook. To call yourself an artist at all is by definition to announce a faith, however unacknowledged, in some form of originality, first for yourself, second, perhaps, for the rest of us.

Fear of form above all means fear of compression— of an artistic focus that condenses experiences, ideas and feelings into something whole, committed and visually comprehensible. With a few exceptions, forms of collage and assemblage dominate this show: the putting together (or simply putting side by side) of existing images and objects prevails. The consistency of this technique in two and three dimensions should have been a red flag for the curators. Collage has driven much art since the late 1970's. Lately, and especially in this exhibition, it often seems to have become so distended and pulled apart that its components have become virtually autonomous and unrelated, which brings us back to square one. This is most obvious in the large installations of graphic works whose individual parts gain impact and meaning from juxtaposition but are in fact considered distinct artworks."

Margaret Atwood on art and the trickster

"The pleasures of fabulation, the charming and playful lie— this line of thought leads Hyde* to the last link in his subtitle, the connection of the trickster to art. Hyde reminds us that the wall between the artist and that American favourite son, the con-artist, can be a thin one indeed; that craft and crafty rub shoulders; and that the words artifice, artifact, articulation  and art  all come from the same ancient root, a word meaning 'to join,' 'to fit,' and 'to make.'  If it’s a seamless whole you want, pray to Apollo, who sets the limits within which such a work can exist.  Tricksters, however, stand where the door swings open on its hinges and the horizon expands: they operate where things are joined together, and thus can also come apart."

* Lewis Hyde, Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art,  Farrar Straus & Giroux, January 1998

Smith mentions "an artistic focus that condenses experiences, ideas and feelings into something whole, committed and visually comprehensible."

Atwood mentions "a seamless whole."

For some related remarks, see "A Study in Art Education" and the central figure pictured above. (There "N" can stand for "number," "nine," or "narrative.")

Friday, October 8, 2010

Starting Out in the Evening

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 12:00 PM

… and Finishing Up at Noon

This post was suggested by last evening’s post on mathematics and narrative
and by Michiko Kakutani on Vargas Llosa in this morning’s New York Times.


Above: Frank Langella in
Starting Out in the Evening

Right: Johnny Depp in
The Ninth Gate


“One must proceed cautiously, for this road— of truth and falsehood in the realm of fiction— is riddled with traps and any enticing oasis is usually a mirage.”

— “Is Fiction the Art of Lying?”* by Mario Vargas Llosa, New York Times  essay of October 7, 1984

My own adventures in that realm— as reader, not author— may illustrate Llosa’s remark.

A nearby stack of paperbacks I haven’t touched for some months (in order from bottom to top)—

  1. Pale Rider by Alan Dean Foster
  2. Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger
  3. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
  4. Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry
  5. Literary Reflections by James A. Michener
  6. The Ninth Configuration by William Peter Blatty
  7. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
  8. Nine Stories by J. D. Salinger
  9. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
  10. The Tempest by William Shakespeare
  11. Being There by Jerzy Kosinski
  12. What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson
  13. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
  14. A Gathering of Spies by John Altman
  15. Selected Poems by Robinson Jeffers
  16. Hook— Tinkerbell’s Challenge by Tristar Pictures
  17. Rising Sun by Michael Crichton
  18. Changewar by Fritz Leiber
  19. The Painted Word by Tom Wolfe
  20. The Hustler by Walter Tevis
  21. The Natural by Bernard Malamud
  22. Truly Tasteless Jokes by Blanche Knott
  23. The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton
  24. Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry

What moral Vargas Llosa might draw from the above stack I do not know.

Generally, I prefer the sorts of books in a different nearby stack. See Sisteen, from May 25. That post the fanciful reader may view as related to number 16 in the above list. The reader may also relate numbers 24 and 22 above (an odd couple) to By Chance, from Thursday, July 22.

* The Web version’s title has a misprint— “living” instead of “lying.”

Monday, September 7, 2009

Monday September 7, 2009

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 AM

Magic Boxes

"Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas– only I don't exactly know what they are!…. Let's have a look at the garden first!"

— A passage from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass. The "garden" part– but not the "ideas" part– was quoted by Jacques Derrida in Dissemination in the epigraph to Chapter 7, "The Time before First."

 on the passage:

Part I    "The Magic Box,"  shown on Turner Classic Movies earlier tonight

Part II: "Mimsy Were the Borogoves," a classic science fiction story:

"… he lifted a square, transparent crystal block, small enough to cup in his palm– much too small to contain the maze of apparatus within it. In a moment Scott had solved that problem. The crystal was a sort of magnifying glass, vastly enlarging the things inside the block. Strange things they were, too. Miniature people, for example– They moved. Like clockwork automatons, though much more smoothly. It was rather like watching a play."

Part III:  A Crystal Block

Cube, 4x4x4

Four coloring pencils, of four different colors

Image of pencils is by
Diane Robertson Design.

Related material:
"A Four-Color Theorem."

Part IV:

David Carradine displays a yellow book-- the Princeton I Ching.

"Click on the Yellow Book."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday September 6, 2009

Filed under: General,Geometry — m759 @ 11:18 PM
Magic Boxes

Part I: “The Magic Box,” shown on Turner Classic Movies tonight

Part II: “Mimsy Were the Borogoves,” a classic science fiction story:

“… he lifted a square, transparent crystal block, small enough to cup in his palm– much too small to contain the maze of apparatus within it. In a moment Scott had solved that problem. The crystal was a sort of magnifying glass, vastly enlarging the things inside the block. Strange things they were, too. Miniature people, for example–

They moved. Like clockwork automatons, though much more smoothly. It was rather like watching a play.”



Image of pencils is by
Diane Robertson Design.

Related material:
A Four-Color Theorem.”

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thursday September 3, 2009

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 11:07 AM
Autistic Enchantment

“Music and mathematics are among the pre-eminent wonders of the race. Levi-Strauss sees in the invention of melody ‘a key to the supreme mystery’ of man– a clue, could we but follow it, to the singular structure and genius of the species. The power of mathematics to devise actions for reasons as subtle, witty, manifold as any offered by sensory experience and to move forward in an endless unfolding of self-creating life is one of the strange, deep marks man leaves on the world. Chess, on the other hand, is a game in which thirty-two bits of ivory, horn, wood, metal, or (in stalags) sawdust stuck together with shoe polish, are pushed around on sixty-four alternately coloured squares. To the addict, such a description is blasphemy. The origins of chess are shrouded in mists of controversy, but unquestionably this very ancient, trivial pastime has seemed to many exceptionally intelligent human beings of many races and centuries to constitute a reality, a focus for the emotions, as substantial as, often more substantial than, reality itself. Cards can come to mean the same absolute. But their magnetism is impure. A mania for whist or poker hooks into the obvious, universal magic of money. The financial element in chess, where it exists at all, has always been small or accidental.

To a true chess player, the pushing about of thirty-two counters on 8×8 squares is an end in itself, a whole world next to which that of a mere biological or political or social life seems messy, stale, and contingent. Even the patzer, the wretched amateur who charges out with his knight pawn when the opponent’s bishop decamps to R4, feels this daemonic spell. There are siren moments when quite normal creatures otherwise engaged, men such as Lenin and myself, feel like giving up everything– marriage, mortgages, careers, the Russian Revolution– in order to spend their days and nights moving little carved objects up and down a quadrate board. At the sight of a set, even the tawdriest of plastic pocket sets, one’s fingers arch and a coldness as in a light sleep steals over one’s spine. Not for gain, not for knowledge or reknown, but in some autistic enchantment, pure as one of Bach’s inverted canons or Euler’s formula for polyhedra.”

— George Steiner in “A Death of Kings,” The New Yorker, issue dated September 7, 1968, page 133

“Examples are the stained-glass windows of knowledge.” —Nabokov

Quaternion rotations in a finite geometry
Click above images for some context.

See also:

Log24 entries of May 30, 2006, as well as “For John Cramer’s daughter Kathryn”– August 27, 2009— and related material at Wikipedia (where Kathryn is known as “Pleasantville”).

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday April 17, 2009

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: — m759 @ 10:31 AM

Begettings of
the Broken Bold

Thanks for the following
quotation (“Non deve…
nella testa“) go to the
weblog writer who signs
himself “Conrad H. Roth.”

of Goethe

(Vol. II, London, Bell & Daldy,
1868, at Google Books):

… Yesterday I took leave of my Captain, with a promise of visiting him at Bologna on my return. He is a true


representative of the majority of his countrymen. Here, however, I would record a peculiarity which personally distinguished him. As I often sat quiet and lost in thought he once exclaimed “Che pensa? non deve mai pensar l’uomo, pensando s’invecchia;” which being interpreted is as much as to say, “What are you thinking about: a man ought never to think; thinking makes one old.” And now for another apophthegm of his; “Non deve fermarsi l’uomo in una sola cosa, perche allora divien matto; bisogna aver mille cose, una confusione nella testa;” in plain English, “A man ought not to rivet his thoughts exclusively on any one thing, otherwise he is sure to go mad; he ought to have in his head a thousand things, a regular medley.”

Certainly the good man could not know that the very thing that made me so thoughtful was my having my head mazed by a regular confusion of things, old and new. The following anecdote will serve to elucidate still more clearly the mental character of an Italian of this class. Having soon discovered that I was a Protestant, he observed after some circumlocution, that he hoped I would allow him to ask me a few questions, for he had heard such strange things about us Protestants that he wished to know for a certainty what to think of us.

Notes for Roth:

Roth and Corleone in Havana

The title of this entry,
“Begettings of the Broken Bold,”
is from Wallace Stevens’s
“The Owl in the Sarcophagus”–

This was peace after death, the brother of sleep,
The inhuman brother so much like, so near,
Yet vested in a foreign absolute,

Adorned with cryptic stones and sliding shines,
An immaculate personage in nothingness,
With the whole spirit sparkling in its cloth,

Generations of the imagination piled
In the manner of its stitchings, of its thread,
In the weaving round the wonder of its need,

And the first flowers upon it, an alphabet
By which to spell out holy doom and end,
A bee for the remembering of happiness.

Peace stood with our last blood adorned, last mind,
Damasked in the originals of green,
A thousand begettings of the broken bold.

This is that figure stationed at our end,
Always, in brilliance, fatal, final, formed
Out of our lives to keep us in our death....

Related material:

  • Yesterday’s entry on Giordano Bruno and the Geometry of Language
  • James Joyce and Heraldry
  • “One might say that he [Joyce] invented a non-Euclidean geometry of language; and that he worked over it with doggedness and devotion….” —Unsigned notice in The New Republic, 20 January 1941
  • Joyce’s “collideorscape” (scroll down for a citation)
  • “A Hanukkah Tale” (Log24, Dec. 22, 2008)
  • Stevens’s phrase from “An Ordinary Evening in New Haven” (Canto XXV)

Some further context:

Roth’s entry of Nov. 3, 2006–
Why blog, sinners?“–
and Log24 on that date:
First to Illuminate.”

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday December 22, 2008

Filed under: General,Geometry — Tags: , — m759 @ 9:00 PM

The Folding

Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5


“I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotted and combined locks to part
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porpentine:
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!”

This recalls the title of a piece in this week’s New Yorker:”The Book of Lists:
Susan Sontag’s early journals
.” (See Log24 on Thursday, Dec. 18.)

In the rather grim holiday spirit of that piece, here are some journal notes for Sontag, whom we may imagine as the ghost of Hanukkah past.

There are at least two ways of folding a list (or tale) to fit a rectangular frame.The normal way, used in typesetting English prose and poetry, starts at the top, runs from left to right, jumps down a line, then again runs left to right, and so on until the passage is done or the bottom right corner of the frame is reached.

The boustrophedonic way again goes from top to bottom, with the first line running from left to right, the next from right to left, the next from left to right, and so on, with the lines’ directions alternating.

The word “boustrophedon” is from the Greek words describing the turning, at the end of each row, of an ox plowing (or “harrowing”) a field.

The Tale of
the Eternal Blazon

by Washington Irving

Blazon meant originally a shield, and then the heraldic bearings on a shield.
Later it was applied to the art of describing or depicting heraldic bearings
in the proper manner; and finally the term came to signify ostentatious display
and also description or record by words or other means. In Hamlet, Act I. Sc. 5,
the Ghost, while talking with Prince Hamlet, says:

‘But this eternal blazon
must not be
To ears of flesh and blood.’

Eternal blazon signifies revelation or description of things pertaining to eternity.”

Irving’s Sketch Book, p. 461

By Washington Irving and Mary Elizabeth Litchfield, Ginn & Company, 1901

Related material:

Folding (and harrowing up)
some eternal blazons —

The 16 Puzzle: transformations of a 4x4 square
These are the foldings
described above.

They are two of the 322,560
natural ways to fit
the list (or tale)
“1, 2, 3, … 15, 16”
into a 4×4 frame.

For further details, see
The Diamond 16 Puzzle.

Moral of the tale:

Cynthia Zarin in The New Yorker, issue dated April 12, 2004–

“Time, for L’Engle, is accordion-pleated. She elaborated, ‘When you bring a sheet off the line, you can’t handle it until it’s folded, and in a sense, I think, the universe can’t exist until it’s folded– or it’s a story without a book.'”

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