Showing posts from February, 2018

Hairy Worms Revisited

On this blog, I have written a number of pieces about parthenogenesis and asexual reproduction. The first was this one: Giving Birth to Hairy Worms , which was inspired by a book called The Manly Masquerade. In it, I noted the Renaissance belief that reproduction could happen spontaneously, that things could be born of putrefaction, and that: Women's wombs could spontaneously produce all sorts of things, from monsters and harpies, to wood, glass or combs, to serpents, toads and hairy worms.  (I particularly like the hairy worms.  Why hairy??)  It seems this idea is less far-fetched than it seems, as today I was reading about homunculi. Rather than attempt to explain it myself, I direct you to this article: The Homunculus Inside . (Trigger warning: the photos are not for the squeamish!) It seems this would also be a good time to tell you that my articles on parthenogenesis (as well as my own experience of both asexuality and gynaecological problems) have inspired a cou

Puzzles in the Alice Books

Recently, I listened to a radio documentary called Two Thousand Years of Puzzling, tracing the history of the puzzle, from mazes to crosswords and everything in between. It mentioned Charles Lutwidge Dodgson - aka Lewis Carroll - author of the Alice books. Dodgson was a lecturer in mathematics at Christ Church College, Oxford, and loved a good mathematical puzzle. In fact, he seemed to love puzzles of every kind. Just thinking about Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass , I was struck by how many different types of puzzle feature in them. Here are some I noticed: Chess and Playing Cards. The main settings of the two books. Obviously, these are games, but there can be a lot of mathematics involved, and plenty of chess and playing card puzzles have been set and solved over the centuries. Riddles. The infamous, "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" Frustratingly, this one has no answer (although Jasper Fforde - that great Aliceophile - comes up with a few i