Soundings Soundings

I and i

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7325.1375/a (Published 08 December 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1375
  1. Kevin Barraclough, general practitioner
  1. Painswick, Gloucestershire

    There is, I think, something ethereal about i—the square root of minus one. I remember first hearing about it at school. It seemed an odd beast at that time—an intruder hovering on the edge of reality.

    Usually familiarity dulls this sense of the bizarre, but in the case of i it was the reverse: over the years the sense of its surreal nature intensified. It seemed that it was impossible to write mathematics that described the real world in …

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