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by Tom Stoppard

Arcadia Science Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Act.Scene)

Quote #1

Thomasina: When you stir your rice pudding, Septimus, the spoonful of jam spreads itself round making red trails like the picture of a meteor in my astronomical atlas. But if you stir backward, the jam will not come together again. Indeed, the pudding does not notice and continues to turn pink just as before. (1.1)

This seems to be the strength of Thomasina's scientific thinking: she's able to think about big ideas in familiar terms, and to make connections between seemingly unrelated things.

Quote #2

Bernard: Well, by comparing sentence structures and so forth, this chap showed that there was a ninety per cent change that the story had indeed been written by the same person as Women in Love. To my inexpressible joy, one of your maths mob was able to show that on the same statistical basis there was a ninety percent chance that Lawrence also wrote the Just William books and much of the previous day's Brighton and Hove Argus. (1.2)

While Bernard's main interest here seems to be in seeing one of his rivals get burned, this incident also suggests that scientific methods don't quite work for analyzing literature – and that English teachers won't be replaced by computers any time soon (we hope). Perhaps not quite everything can be reduced to numbers.

Quote #3

Valentine: When your Thomasina was doing maths it had been the same maths for a couple of thousand years. Classical. And for a century after Thomasina. Then maths left the real world behind, just like modern art, really. Nature was classical, maths was suddenly Picassos. But now nature is having the last laugh. The freaky stuff is turning out to be the mathematics of the natural world. (1.4)

It's interesting that Valentine uses art as a metaphor for what's happening in science, and that parallel changes in science and in art happened at around the same time. This might suggest that scientific thought isn't entirely objective, but depends at least in part on what's happening in the larger culture – how people see the world at that point in time.

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