An Engineer's Literary Notebook

Exploring the real and surreal connections between poetry and engineering

Archive for the ‘Mobius strip’ Category

Of Chirality and Mobius Strips

Posted by xbanguyen on September 28, 2012

Do you find it restful to enter a story with a beginning, a middle and an end, or do you prefer the thrill of a headlong dive into the turmoil of the author’s verbal consciousness? Always predictable, a typical  ASIC/FPGA specification our group develops leans toward the former,  the scope telling  you what to expect, the theory of operation unfolding in the implementation description culminating in the total power consumption after a proper traversal of the various time domains.  From the architectural description to the testability section,  a well-written device specification can impart a sense of coherency for you in a pinch, if  in spite of the best intention, you feel detached eating lunch while peering at the monitor to figure out the latest memory technology, DDR4, even when there actually are no needs whatsoever to be more rooted. In that situation, would the following lines make you smile, shaking off the self-imposed solitude to jump sideways onto a swiftly moving URL?

To an engineer, the astonishing simile encourages waywardness. The circular nature of the images invoked by this part of the poem makes me wonder if that road’s apparent surface is like a mobius strip. Traveling on its edge I will eventually get back to the same point but will have gone twice the length of the same road itself.  As you know, a mobius strip is a chiral object that can not be mapped into its mirror image by rotation or translation. In other words, the mobius strip is the starting place for creating non-orientable surfaces, those for which the concept of right and left has no meanings [1] . I will refrain from bringing up the current political climate, singing a lullaby to my partisan self.
This mathematically intriguing strip has Euler characteristic chi=0
Mathematical intrigues aside, this topology, having just one surface, was the concept used by the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan to suggest reconsidering the demarcation between the body and the self, conventionally thought of as clearly divided into an inside and an outside [2].  Lingering by the side border in this early autumnal evening when the iris leaves are still green, long and supple enough to be fashioned into mobius strips, I see  that the gradual emergence of one into the other provide a gentle tension to make these lines even more lovely, and be thankful.
Thank you for the excursion, dear muse,
1 The math information is from
4. The music Mobius is from

Posted in Chiracity, James Wright, Jane Hirschfield, Mobius strip, Topology | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

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