THE MATHEMATICAL BRIDGE
Last summer I posted the photo, GONDOLAS OF ENGLAND , showing St. John’s College Bridge, otherwise known as the “Bridge of Sighs” in Cambridge. Then just last week I posted another photo, VIEW OF THE CAM. This is a third in a series of photos of Cambridge University. I was in Cambridge eight months apart on short stints, working on a new book on Isaac Newton. For the latter photo I wrote a detailed note about the birth of the great university and about its unrivaled scientific legacy.
Anyone who has been in a punt on the River Cam has heard the fable of Isaac Newton (1642-1727) having designed the Mathematical Bridge. Balancing forces and torques, in accord with Newton’s 1st law for translation and rotation, the bridge was built sans nails, sans nuts and sans bolts. Then the guides add that the bridge was taken down for restoration, but the engineers could not get it back together again without using connecting bolts. The Mathematical Bridge serves the 550-year old Tudor buildings of Queen’s College (seen on the right), and authorities there offer a different explanation:
“The bridge was built in 1749 by James Essex the Younger (1722-1784) to the design of William Etheridge (1709-1776). It has subsequently been rebuilt to the same design in 1866 and 1905. For those who have fallen prey to the baseless stories told by unscrupulous guides to gullible tourists, it is necessary to point out that Isaac Newton died in 1727, and therefore cannot possibly have had anything to do with this bridge. Anyone who believes that students or Fellows could have disassembled the bridge (and then failed to re-assemble it, as the myth runs) cannot have a serious grasp on reality, given the size and weight of the wooden members of the bridge. The joints of the present bridge are fastened by nuts and bolts. Earlier versions of the bridge used iron pins or screws at the joints, driven in from the outer elevation.”
In the 70s when I first heard the Newton-fable, I too had fallen victim to the ruse, but with raised eyebrows. I am happy to see the proper explanation. The young man in the punt is a Cambridge University student, and like many other students, earns pocket money by giving visitors short excursions on the River Cam. I cannot imagine that he would proliferate the myth of Newton. I shot the present photo standing on a bridge close by, using my compact camera, Nikon s600. The white balance was set on cloudy sky, ISO 200, 3648x2736 pixels, f/3.9, 4.1MB.
tyro, brech, ingvar, BWJ, Suppiluliuma, Graal, jhm, snunney, serp2000, photoray, MLINES, bukitgolfb301, mayjayne, Pentti, agulberk, zoomer, AiresSantos, delpeoples, papagolf21, paura, paololg, jafadabret, vasilpro, archimatica, siolaw, Angshu, kordinator, subhendu_bagchi, ines8, Didi, sothy81 has marked this note useful
Critiques | Translate
corjan3 (2025) 2011-03-17 12:21
This is a beautiful image accompanied by a wonderful note. Thank you! I know this is not about Newton, quite the contrary, but it is amazing how he and others (almost) like him still pervade our existence. Quoting from memory here:
"Science and science's laws were hid in night,
and God said "Let Newton be",
and all was light". - His epitaph.
And newton himself said "I was like a child playing at the seashore, picking up pebbles" - also from memory. Please excuse if not absolutely verbally accurate.
tyro (18574) 2011-03-17 17:17
What a wonderfully interesting note! I love notes like that. As far as I was aware, Newton never designed bridges and that is certainly the case here.
But, to your picture. This was clearly taken on a rather dull and cloudy day, yet the detail, colours and contrasts are excellent. The young man steering his punt along the Cam is well-placed in the photograph and we can clearly see the detail of the bridge as well as the bolts which hold it together!
An excellent picture but an even more interesting and informative note to accompany it!
Sonata11 (33155) 2011-03-17 17:58
this is lovley picture with beautiful natural colors, sharpness, great POV and contrast. Wonderful architecture of those building. Overall , beautiful image. I like it,
ingvar (2086) 2011-03-17 19:01
Buongiorno caro Professore,
I love the style and British architecture, one day I must go there too!
The composition of the photo is very nice. The presence of a "Gondoliere Brittanico" is very welcome! The boy seems to be happy, seeing a respectable photographer. The history of the bridge is encyclopedic, but I do not dare to think that a scientist like You, could fall into the trap of the story on I. Newton. I am pretty sure that your eyebrows were very, but VERY UP!
BWJ (3022) 2011-03-17 20:19
What a fascinating note and wonderful picture to accompany it. This photo has the feeling of a typical English atmosphere and climate. Contrasting colors of the grass, the gray bridge and red bricks are very realistic and natural. Clarity and sharp details are exceptional. Your success with the Nikon pocket camera is amazing.
Suppiluliuma (3885) 2011-03-17 23:16
Wonderful story !
Sometimes, it is a must to tell the story behind a picture. That adds so much charm and enriches the visual document.
Selam ev sevgilerimle,
pablominto (53744) 2011-03-17 23:47
A picturesque scene that is well recorded!
The peaceful atmosphere by the canal is nicely conveyed, and the bridge makes an original entrance to the house...
Well framed with fine backlight effect, good sense of depth!
Graal (95343) 2011-03-18 0:48
amazing bridge, fine title and note with links. Good presentation from famous Cambridge. Photo well done.
Have a nice day.
jhm (135096) 2011-03-18 4:40
You chose a very well angle, truly it old system, but always very nice for look at.
The wood bridge is a nice atraction a a nice ingeneer system with wood, the old classic strong bridge for walkers.
Notwithstanding the bad weather get we a very attractive picture.
Perspective and depth are excellent, also the addition of the little boat.
Very well done, TFS.
Have a nice weekend,
snunney (79521) 2011-03-18 5:24
I have not heard tell of this story but I bet the tourists lap it up:-) Your composition shows the unusual bridge to good effect. The young man in the punt is nicely placed and injects a sense of vitality into the scene. Details in both bridge and adjacent architecture are excellent despite the poor lighting conditions. Thanks for sharing.
serp2000 (37875) 2011-03-18 8:32
The interesting and useful note and excellnt shot.
I like this old english architecture. Just a spirit of past. Well done. My compliments!
Have a great WE!
Bluejeans (64247) 2011-03-18 9:17
Ola Bulent ,
Bela captura este velha ponte de madeira , muito interessante a sua construção , gostei do momento com o homem a passar de barco , parabéns!!
Um abraço Gonçalo
Bom fim de semana
photoray (10125) 2011-03-18 9:27
Like everyone else an appealing image; I especially like the moody atmosphere, stereotypical of me, for the classical brick architecture and the magical wood foot bridge.
And a bonus with your historical background.
Well done, cheers,
mesutilgim (79956) 2011-03-18 10:22
Selam sevgili Bülent,
Amazing that you've on almost every posting to TE a scientific connection. Also here not only the photographic values but also the notes is almost a "paper" !
TFS and have a nice weekend
MLINES (12516) 2011-03-18 15:52
Hi Bulent, Well timed with the sole paddler on the stream. Most interesting to read the background. Certainly clever to build such a structure without nails and bolt. There is a Kyoto building built that way too. Well cropped with a splash of green grass. TFS. Murray.
emka (73139) 2011-03-18 16:19
I saw already this bridge on other photos from Cambridge, I like most its name. haha, what the guides say... I usually have no guides, only read in the books. Poor student wanting to earn money by punting, this time of year probably not much visitors. i will go to Cambridge in the end of May. I hope it will look more cheerfully in summer.
P.S. Only one week and I will be in NYC!
bukitgolfb301 (34474) 2011-03-19 1:24
Hi my dear Bulent
An impresive and tasteful shot with clear sharp presentation as usual as you. Perfect framework and moderate composition indeed. Many thanks for your warm and sincere attention. Thanks for your sharing fine work, which give me a vigor and have a good weekend,
Royaldevon (26481) 2011-03-19 2:15
Good Morning Bulent,
Such interesting and thought grabbing notes!
Nice, sharp details of bridge, building and punter.
The twinkling light on the water gives a semblance of movement.
I might have been tempted to crop some of that sky, which would not have spoilt the composition, and might have given extra strength to the punter (not physically, of course!).
Have a good w/e,
npecanhuk (60836) 2011-03-19 2:48
I specially enjoyed the chosen pov, composition and horizontal format!
TFS - congrats,
Have a great week-end,
mayjayne (3117) 2011-03-19 4:52
I can imagine how interesting it would be, to view things through your eyes, and to think about them with your mind. Always an interesting note to a picture: your Cambridge series have made me reminiscence over the times I visited England: of all the old English charms, countryside and myths....
jaywalker (16095) 2011-03-19 5:39
Hi Bulent, Another wonderfully composed photo, this offers a lovely peaceful feel with the boatman amberling through the shot, the bridge is a lovely addition & the architecture to the right looks beautiful, TFS, kind regards Wilson.
Pentti (1451) 2011-03-19 10:59
great to have so natural colors in a so well composed image
interesting note or should one call it a tale
agulberk (3794) 2011-03-19 21:36
Bülent hocam matemetiksel köprü isimi ayrıntılı yazınızla birlikte tarih kokan bu nostaljık mekanda mükemmel bir perspektiften harika bir kompozisyon ve etkileyici bir sunumla bilimsel bir kitabın kapağı gibi olmuş. Dört dörtlük bir sunum.
Selam,saygı ve sevgilerimle...
zoomer (6) 2011-03-20 8:11
This is at once a most interesting and well presented image.A bridge can always be a fine metaphor.Best regards Wolf.
TRB (13561) 2011-03-20 14:57
Bakış açısı ve pozlaması ile mükemmel.
Matemetiksel köprüsü, dinlendirici görüntüsü ve kompozisyonu ile tablo gibi....
Çok etkileyici, mükemmel sunum.
Tebrikler, selam ve saygılar
AiresSantos (56155) 2011-03-21 1:12
Hi dear Bulent
Fine composition with nice details
Excellent POV, very well framed and done
Great note as usual
Thanks and have a nice week
delpeoples (52445) 2011-03-21 4:03
Merhaba dear Bulent
I love this, gondolas of England, I never would have thought! As I'm not a mathematician, I can't really appreciate the maths of the bridge. But I certainly can appreciate its filigree quality and beautiful textures. A lovely scene, thanks for sharing.
Have a lovely day
ciakgiak (30405) 2011-03-21 14:34
Ciao caro Bulent,
la teoria del ponte senza bulloni mi affascina alquanto, ma è proprio quello inquadrato in questa foto, perché sai, purtroppo spesso non capisco il senso delle note in inglese. Comunque sia, l'inquadratura è molto bella, mi piace molto l'inserimento dell'uomo con la barca.
Un caro saluto
danyy (0) 2011-03-21 23:50
une très longue note pour un petit pont, mais il est beau, alliant pierre et bois. Tout est ancien sur cette photo y compris l'embarcation. Une bonne exploitation de lumières moyennes.
My best regards.
peppe59 (14551) 2011-03-22 9:22
very interesting image, with perfect quality and definition, colors and natural light.
papagolf21 (83214) 2011-03-23 14:47
Bonsoir, cher ami Bulent,
Les légendes ont la vie dure, mais, après tout, pourquoi ne pas se laisser aller à croire à cette fable ! elle paraît tellement extraordinaire !
Heureusement que la vérité a éclaté et qu'il est de bon ton de laisser croire aux touristes ce genre de vérité.
La photo est excellente au même titre que la note.
Félicitations, mon ami.
paura (47166) 2011-03-24 7:24
Great composition, friend, showning us the beautiful and interesting structure bridge over a pretty landscape. The note is also really interesting. Well done!
paololg (31448) 2011-03-24 11:20
Ciao dear friend,
I have read with very interest your notes. I am not a mathematician, and probably I would also have believed in the fable of this bridge, thinking about the technique "dry" of construction of the Roman aqueducts, without mortar, where every stone sustains those near. It's always a pleasure for the eyes to admire your photos and a pleasure for the mind to read your notes. BRAVO!
Ciao, have a nice Friday!
lousat (72197) 2011-03-25 2:33
Hi Bulent,what a beautiful compositions,interesting place and fantastic quality of sharpness and colors in this difficult light of a cloudy day.Very very nice,i like it!Thanks for share,have a nice day,Luciano
Fis2 (81876) 2011-03-28 23:15
I love bridges.
Good POV and composition.
PHoto has climate.
Ricx (13495) 2011-03-28 23:43
Hello Bulent My dear and educated friend... I must admit I have always believed the first part of the note to this image.. maybe as I have many years ago gone punting on the Cam. You have told the story beautifully and presented a wonderful image to reflect it.. Congratulations and hope that Sprng is bring wonderful new opportunities. Rich
jafadabret (56497) 2011-03-29 9:24
C'est dommage la légende était belle et rendait hommage au génial scientifique que fut Newton. Il faut se faire une raison le personnage n'a pas besoin de cette histoire pour prouver son génie. Il reste que le pont est très ancien et semble avoir été construit par un excellent charpentier. La photo est superbe avec le personnage sur son bateau au milieu de la rivière.
vasilpro (40739) 2011-03-29 10:56
Wonderful composition, lovely soft colors, excellent light management, very nice POV, beautiful atmosphere, interesting bridge.
Warm regards, Vasilis.
archimatica (20287) 2011-03-29 13:07
Wonderful lesson in history and physica: compliments, professor!
The photo is well composed, of course.
siolaw (38050) 2011-03-29 23:53
The shot is well timed with the 'gondoliere' capture well timed. An interesting site and bridge construction technique too... amazing that they couldn't get it back together the way it originally was!
Weather didn't help much but colours and contrast are fine.
mauro61 (52623) 2011-04-01 3:47
la tonalità dei colori e la luce svolgono un ruolo fondamentale nella riuscita dell'immagine.
Mi piace molto l'inquadratura con il fiume, il vecchio ponte in legno e il ragazzo in piedi sulla barca.
Tutto molto ben fatto,
TopGeo (38168) 2011-04-01 11:39
Hello Bulent! An image as a place the University as a concept to refer to the myth of Newton, but "Both these discoveries have led physicists to question the Cartesian paradigm and reintroduced a mystical element to the universe. Einstein's theory of relativity showed that space and time are not independent of each other as the Cartesian model seemed to suggest. "enough literature Greetings Good night and good wishes me!
patdeph (35748) 2011-04-02 3:16
nice and romantic picture,with this gondola,the beautiful architecture of the house,and the lovely bridge under a soft light.
Silvio1953 (115837) 2011-04-04 7:58
Ciao Bulent, great perspective on lovely wooden bridge, beautiful composition with little boat, splendid light and wonderful colors, very well done my friend, ciao Silvio
anokutan (15097) 2011-04-07 9:55
Merhabalar Bülent bey,
Nefis bir perspektif.Süper kompozisyon.Harika detaylar.Tebriklerimle.
Angshu (54709) 2011-04-09 9:30
Dear Professor 'A'
Amazing structure of the bridge originally built without nails & bolts. So now, the reconstructed bridge has nails & bolts & could not be done like Newton did? Amazing! A very nice picture here...the washed out sky is a bit of a let down, but light does seem to be at a premium here. Your note as always, is fascinating, informative and educative
With Warmest Regards
kordinator (14831) 2011-04-10 0:10
You chose a very well angle for this wonderful composition.
Wonderful architecture of those building.
Lovley picture with beautiful natural colors, sharpness, great POV and contrast.
Very informative and interesting note.
COSTANTINO (51262) 2011-04-10 10:53
it is not only a shot it is abeautiful
shot with great sharpness and lightness
the title was very impressive for me
and for that reason I chose this photo
I red all your useful notes and I
was impressed,thanks for sharing all
them with us
subhendu_bagchi (25249) 2011-04-12 22:13
it is really a nice composition where we can see the traditional GONDOLA with the beautiful bridge at background. Great light and fine depth. Excellent shot. Tfs.
jemaflor (80650) 2011-04-16 8:55
Well composed to présent this place with this olé bridge, perfect the boat in a focal point of your shot, thé good detail, well made.
sandpiper (6788) 2011-04-16 23:28
An interesting bridge with a complex story of fictiona and fact. Good composition and POV. The young guy on the punt adds to the scene that would probably appear empty without him.
ines8 (6068) 2011-04-25 13:19
Splendid composition,very interesting note,amazing bridge.
Didi (55021) 2011-04-27 7:04
Hi my friend
Interstinf peaceful ambiance and nice dominant point of view on the scene.
The presence of the boat man gives a nice attraction to this picture.
Jakab (3867) 2011-07-01 11:53
Though not an architectural masterpiece this wooden construction is certainly one of the most famous bridges of Europe, thanks to the Newton-fable. You are right with describing the correct explanation but tales, fables and legends are as firm parts of such legendary places as the bricks used for the buildings.
It is a pleasure to find finally a good photo of this bridge with good details and great athmosphere.
sothy81 (9546) 2012-07-10 17:08
Hi Bulent, I have just found out this picture of yours of the Math Bridge. I was just there a few weeks ago and got a similar photo from this place. You are lucky that time that there was nothing built on the left side of the bridge. When I was there, it looked so messy on that left side as they were building things. And I decided to cropped it out from the composition as seen here: http://beta.trekearth.com/gallery/photo1372817.htm
I love your note here. Very informative than the Wikipedia.
wolf38 (30276) 2014-03-05 8:37
Hello Bulent. From a technical perspective seen an interesting photo. In addition, a very informative and instructive text. The boat driver complements the photo well. Rgds, Wolfgang.