Sunday, February 4, 2007

Mathematical Bridge at Queen's College--A Sunday Afternoon Stroll

Research in the library is not possible on Sunday afternoon, given that the library is closed, and wisely so, for otherwise scholars would become more eggheaded than they already are. So, after having enjoyed a pleasant dinner with new friends, Don and Melissa Howell, in one of the flats at Tyndale House, I took a stroll through old Cambridge. I snapped the picture on the left of "Mathematical Bridge," spanning River Cam at Queen's College.

Mathematical Bridge strains under a load of several legends. It's a wonder that the bridge remains intact, given the weight of these myths. Here are some of the
myths that shroud the truth about the construction of the bridge:
  • That the bridge is of Chinese origin and that its design incorporates some form of special mathematical technique from which it derives its name.
  • That the bridge was designed and built by students. It was so perfect that the planks were laid one on top of the other and held together by their weight and the angles by which they were put together. The professors were so intrigued and in awe of its architecture that they took it apart to see how it was built. Their downfall was that they could not piece it back together again and therefore the bridge is now held together by nuts, bolts and screws.
  • That the bridge was designed by Isaac Newton, but that he did so without the need for bolts to hold the wood together - the story of college members then dismantling it and being unable to reassemble it is also part of this version of the myth. This version is unlikely to be true because Newton died in 1727, 22 years before the bridge was constructed.
The bridge connects to older segment of Queen's College (The Dark Side) with the newer portion (The Light Side).

Here are few other shots to acquaint you with Queen's College.On the left is the Gate House viewed from the Old Court. To the right is the Queen's College shield.

On the left is the cloister with the long gallery on the left. To the right is the President's Lodge. Finally, below is a shot of the bridge in winter, on a frosty morning, many of which we are having at this time.

For further information on Mathematical Bridge click here.