Asimov (was: Book of Athyra)

Thu Jun 5 06:53:53 PDT 2003

On Wed, 4 Jun 2003, Iván Rebollo wrote:

@> >I'd probably agree with that.  However...one doesn't always want to _learn_
@> >something.  There is a difference between "escape entertainment" and
@> >"entertained intelluctually" I think. :)
@> I have always thought that I can learn from a good book and that I will 
@> learnt without noticing it or making any effort with a VERY good book. 
@> Gaert's example of Asimov is really good.


I've been reading Asimov's Book of Facts. (No, I don't know why. I
suspect many of them are urban legends, and some are out of date
(the book was published in the late seventies).) This one struck me as
somewhat appropos for this list.


The 19th-century mathematician Janos Bolyai, who generally shares the
credit for having discovered non-Euclidean geometry, specialized in the
violin and the dueling sword, in the true tradition of the Hungarian
aristocrat. He once fenced with 13 swordsmen, one after the other,
vanquishing them all and playing the violin between bouts. Bolyai gave up
work in mathematics when he felt embarassment and humiliation at the
disclosure that a little earlier Karl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1835), the
famous German mathematician and astronomer, had had the same ideas about
non-Euclidean geometry but hadn't published.