Saturday, June 27, 2009

Arcadia and the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics

Saw the excellent production of Arcadia last night: a play which bizzairely I had neither seen nor read. Was delighted to find that Bob May had done an essay "From Newton to Chaos" for the programme. It concludes: "Ultimately, the mathematics of chaos offers new and deep insights into the structure of the world around us, and at the same time raises old questions about why abstract mathematics should be so unreasonably effective in describing this world".

All the cast were very good, with Ed Stoppard and Samantha Bond shining particularly, and Lucy Griffiths a charmingly glamorous Chole. Turns out she was at Roedean with Rebecca Hall and was in the Childrens Chorus of one of Peter Hall's Glynedbourne productions. The themes of chaotic mathematics, love, madness, the uncertainty of historical research, the contingency of genius are really interesting and beautifully handled.

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