Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0008684, Tue, 30 Sep 2003 13:01:29 -0700

Fw: Re: lemniscate and bicycling
----- Original Message -----
From: "Mary Krimmel" <mary@krimmel.net>
> ----------------- Message requiring your approval (37
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> >From: "Philip Wren" <philip.wren@ntlworld.com>
> >X-Newsgroups: geometry.puzzles
> >Subject: Re: lemniscate and bicycling
> >Date: Sun, 28 Sep 2003 22:49:58 +0000 (UTC)
> This response from a geometry list struck me as forward-worthy.
> Mary Krimmel
> > I have not read Pale Fire and I had to refresh my memory as to
what a
> >lemniscate curve looks like. But I have ridden a bicycle and just
> >the joyous going nowhere of riding round in circles (more or less) that
> >followed my first acquisition of balance on a machine too big for my
> >childish frame. Going round in circles is apt to make one dizzy so
> >to rough figures of eight prolongs the going nowhere joy. I'm sure this
> >the same joy that skaters feel.
> >
> >I don't think that Nabokov was a mathematician but, even if he was, I
> >that the reference you cite was intended to convey geometric precision on
> >the part of the cyclist. What he/Shade was envying was the nonchalant
> >of the rider describing an endless slalom course. And Nabokov was
> >displaying his own skill with words - did he think first of "figure of
> >eight" and then find "lemniscate" in a thesaurus? Certainly he was using
> >poetic licence in ascribing deftness to the tires rather than to the
> >
> >The rider who deliberately sets out to ensure that the product of his
> >distances from two fixed points is the square of half the distance
> >the points <pause for deep breath> would surely fall off his bike. What
> >would be interesting is to know if the dynamics of a nonchalant figure of
> >eight result in a close approximation to a lemniscate.
> >
> >Regards
> >
> >Phil Wren