a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|This early science fiction novel about space travel (published originally in French, of course) contains two chapters with explicit (and very nice) mathematical content.
In Chapter 4 (A Little Algebra) the characters discuss the computations necessary for determining the initial speed necessary to complete their journey...and discover that the official computation was incorrect! It is a nice demonstration of the power and usefulness of mathematics. There is also mention of the non-integrabilty of the three body problem, the relationship between integral and differential calculus, and (at least a hint) of the fact that the body of mathematical knowledge is still growing.
Then, in Chapter 15 (Hyperbola or Parabola) , a discussion of the difference between these two geometric figures grows out of questions concerning their trajectory. The descriptions in terms of conic sections are very nice, as are the reactions of their "mathematically challenged" crew member.
Much thanks to Michel Lasvergnas for finding this work of mathematical fiction.
The book is available online (in both English and the original French) at many Websites. Click on the links above for one example.
Note that Verne wrote many other stories involving mathematics. See Topsy-Turvy for a listing of several others.
|More information about this work can be found at www.gutenberg.org.|
|(Note: This is just one work of mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.)|
Your Help Needed: Some site visitors remember reading works of mathematical fiction that neither they nor I can identify. It is time to crowdsource this problem and ask for your help! You would help a neighbor find a missing pet...can't you also help a fellow site visitor find some missing works of mathematical fiction? Please take a look and let us know if you have seen these missing stories anywhere!.
(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)