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.)|
(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)