Prof. Clifford on Curved Space

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Abstract

THE friend, who (as I stated in my letter in NATURE, Feb. 6) called my attention to Prof. Clifford's address in Macmillan's Magazine for October last, asked me certain questions respecting curved space, which I was quite unable to answer: and another friend, occupying the foremost place among English philosophers, has since communicated to me the great discomfort which Prof. Clifford's views had occasioned him, and suggested that I should comment upon them in NATURE. I am not sure that what I have to say will prove to be helpful either to my discomforted friend, or to truth: yet the doctrine of curved space is so extraordinary in itself, and so momentous in its consequences, if it be true, that it is a fair subject for sceptical scrutiny. Moreover, I do not conceive that in commenting upon it I am going ultra crepidam; for the nature of space is not a subject on which the mathematician can claim a monopoly. In limine allow me to express my regret that Prof. Clifford should have selected such a topic for the entertainment of a popular audience. It is quite incredible that any of his hearers could have apprehended his meaning. There was assuredly no need for the lecturer to have cast a glamour on their mental eye by the invocation of those awful names, Lobatchewsky and Gauss, Riemann and Helmholtz.

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INGLEBY, C. Prof. Clifford on Curved Space. Nature 7, 282–283 (1873) doi:10.1038/007282b0

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