Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mathematical Bridge at Cambridge

Photo by Kosturera: Punter poles beneath the Mathematical Bridge

According to the website of Queens' College, the Mathematical Bridge was designed by William Etheridge, and built by James Essex the Younger in 1749.

A note on the website denies rumours that Sir Isaac Newton designed it to illustrate mathematical principles and states that the bridge was never meant to stand without nails.

Also baseless, says Queens', are rumours that students and/or fellows disassembled it and then failed to put it back together.

The bridge was rebuilt in 1867 and 1902. The current version is held together by nuts and bolts, while earlier versions used pins or screws.

Cambridge has been home to many famous mathematicians. A small sampling might include computing pioneer Charles Babbage, Sir James Jeans, who applied math to thermodynamics, and Bertrand Russell, who was a mathematician as well as an essayist and philosopher.

Still, the reason for the name of this wooden bridge remains obscure.

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