a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
"William E. Emba"|
A mathematician is on trial for war crimes, regarding
his role in developing an absolutely horrendous killing
weapon based on sophisticated new physics. Guilt or
innocence revolves around who first wrote down the key
equations, but his memory of the event is missing. And
although he acknowledges being the developer, he cannot
be convicted on his own confession. Memory dredging
techniques are used, and reveal an incredible shock.
Numerous references to twistors, spinors, field equations,
and the like abound.
Published in the March 2000 issue of Asimov's Science Fiction
magazine. Recently republished in The Lady Vanishes and Other Oddities of Nature.
The interesting thing about this story is that it touches on the more general question: When an invention has been made as a result of the intuitions of a physicist turned into a usable form by a mathematician and finally made into a real object by an engineer, how should the credit/blame be distributed among the three people?
In the anthology the story is followed by a short "afterword" by the author. There, he explains that the mathematics in this story, and some of the subplot of what is happening around the mathematician during the writing, is based on his work on the real paper Classification of space-times in general relativity (Journal of Mathematical Physics Vol 14(4) pp. 465-469. April 1973) that Sheffield wrote with R Adler.
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(Maintained by Alex Kasman,
College of Charleston)