Interdisciplinary 101:  Infinity, the Fourth Dimension, and Geneseo
Fall 2004
Professor:        Jeff Johannes                                    Section 19    M 3:30-4:20p    Sturges 112
Assistant:        Julie M. Walinski
Office:            South 326A                    
Telephone:      245-5403
Office Hours:     Monday 12:30 - 1:30p, Wednesday 8 - 9p, Thursday 11:30a - 12:35p, Thursday 8 - 9p,  Friday 10:30 - 11:20a, by appointment and visit. (and our exclusive times)
Email Address:

    White Light [WL], Rudy Rucker
    Primer of Higher Space [P], Claude Bragdon
    The Fourth Dimension [4], Rudy Rucker

      In this course I would like us to learn a bit about the following:
Furthermore, I hope to do that in the most comfortable and relaxed environment possible.  

    In this course we will explore concepts of infinity and the fourth dimension as presented by two authors with Geneseo connections.  Rudy Rucker was a mathematics professor at Geneseo in the 1970s.  As a parting gesture he wrote the science fiction (or more appropriately mathematical fiction) novel White Light about his out-of-body experiences at Temple Hill Cemetery and visits to new worlds of infinity.  We will begin the course by reading this novel and taking walking tours of the sites and settings.  Claude Bragdon was a Rochester architect at the turn of the twentieth century.  Aside from designing the Rochester Chamber of Commerce building and the former train station, he designed the courthouse in Geneseo and the College President’s house at 15 Main St.  Bragdon was also a publisher and author.  He wrote frequently on many mystical topics, including the fourth dimension.  We will visit some of Bragdon’s buildings (in Geneseo and perhaps Rochester) and read his book A Primer of Higher Space.   We will conclude the semester by reading and discussing Rucker’s The Fourth Dimension:  A Guided Tour of the Higher Universes.  Along the way we will explore the mathematical and metaphysical concepts underlying infinity and the fourth dimension.
    Aside from all that, we will begin each class by discussing any thoughts and reactions to your first-year experiences at Geneseo.  

    Nothing we read in this class will be a traditional mathematics book.  The course will be much more designed around reading and discussion.  There should be all sorts of reactions from the reading . . topics to discuss, reactions to stories, questions about the mathematical content, ideas of places to visit, etc.  Each day you are required to bring reading reactions to class.  These reading reactions must include reactions to at least five topics in the reading.  They must be written in intelligible English.  Each one will be evaluated out of 5 points, with points deducted for fewer than five points being addressed.

    Since most of the class is discussion, deriving the same benefits by merely examining someone's class notes or reading the textbook would be impossible.  If you are present for a discussion you will receive one participation point that day.  If you also participate to the class as a whole (answer a question, present a solution, ask an insightful question or offer important relevant commentary) you will receive two participation points for that day.  Present each day and never speaking in class will earn 80%.  Speaking every other day will earn 95%.  Scores between will be scaled linearly.     

   Your grade in this course will be strictly the average between your reading reaction score and your participation score.  
    Note:  101 courses are very special.  You may drop at any time with no consequence.  So, if nothing else, please stick around and come visit us.  

    Occasionally you will be given anonymous feedback forms.  Please use them to share any thoughts or concerns for how the course is running.  Remember, the sooner you tell me your concerns, the more I can do about them.  I have also created a web-site which accepts anonymous comments.  If we have not yet discussed this in class, please encourage me to create a class code.  This site may also be accessed via our course page on a link entitled anonymous feedback.  Of course, you are always welcome to approach me outside of class to discuss these issues as well. 

Religious Holidays
    It is my policy to give students who miss class because of observance of religious holidays the opportunity to make up missed work.  You are responsible for notifying me no later than September 13 of plans to observe the holiday.  


August 30            Introductions

September 13         [WL]  Part One

September 20         [WL]  Part Two

September 27         Tour of president's house (and visit to courthouse if time allows)

October 4               [WL]  Part Three

October 18             [WL]  Part Four

October 25             Walking tour of Geneseo sights relevant to class

November 1           [P]  The Fourth Dimension

November 8           [P]  Plates

November 15         [P]  Man the Square

November 22         [4]  Forward, Preface and §1

November 29         [4]  class choice

December 6            [4]  class choice

December 13          [4]  class choice

December 17 3:30 - 6:30p  Meeting time for any final discussions, gatherings &c.