# The math behind Gravity’s Rainbow (Part8): The shape whose centre of gravity is the Brennschluss point

In one of my last posts I puzzled over this section in Gravity’s Rainbow: And what is the specific shape whose center of gravity is the Brennschluss Point? Don’t jump at an infinite number of possible shapes. There’s only one. It is most likely an interface between one order of things and another. Pynchon, Thomas.…

# The math behind Gravity’s Rainbow (Part 7): Rotational symmetry

I didn’t do a math post in quite some time, so here is a quick one to get back into the game. It’s about some mathematical imagery in the Putzi’s section of Gravity’s Rainbow: Other souls move, sigh, groan unseen among the sheets of fog, dimensions in here under the earth meaningless—the room could be…

# The math behind Gravity’s Rainbow (Part 6): Power Series

Gravity’ Rainbow can be a lot of fun. But there are also these episodes being absolutely bleak and repulsive. There is this famous scene where a character eats shit. But I think all the stuff about sexual violence is much harder to stomach: She recalls his teeth before any other feature, teeth were to benefit…

# The math behind Gravity’s Rainbow (Part 5): Going all around on a swing

My grandmother always encouraged me to try going all around on a swing. At the time I thought this was pretty reckless of her and I was much too scared to try it anyway. But she probably had read this section of Gravity’s Rainbow and knew I would be fine: Diverging oscillations of any kind…

# The math behind Gravity’s Rainbow (Part 4): The Poisson Distribution

Pynchon’s work is often accused of being quite ‘random’. But while Gravity’s Rainbow contains a lot of text about bananas, it could certainly not have been written by a monkey with a typewriter. There is an order to the madness. And I will show this by employing the same technique as one of the book’s…

# The math behind Gravity’s Rainbow (Part3): Double Integrals

A part of Gravity’s Rainbow plays in the mines of Kohnstein that were repurposed for production of the V1 and V2 rockets. Prisoners of the Nazis concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora worked there under inhumane conditions. More people died manufacturing the V2 than were killed by its deployment. One of this section’s themes is the architecture of…

# The math behind Gravity’s Rainbow (Part 2): Motion under the aspect of yaw control

Gravity’s Rainbow is one of those books I could devote my whole life to and still wouldn’t understand half of it. Many parts probably aren’t meant to be understood. Fortunately, there are also some math formulas: For an excellent explanation of the formula’s origin and a discussion of its meaning within the context of the…

# The math behind Gravity’s Rainbow (Part 1): The speed with which Earth rotates

The speed with which Earth is rotating is not something we think about every day. The only time I really noticed it was on a nightly hike in the mountains. It was a starry night, and at some point, the full moon was rising up behind a mountain massif. With the mountains as a reference…