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The Geometrics of Johnny Day (1941)
Nelson Bond

Old MacDonald had a firm, and in that firm he had a young mathematician who wanted to win his daughter's hand in marriage. MacDonald was skeptical:

(quoted from The Geometrics of Johnny Day)

""Ye want a job, eh? And just what is it that ye do?"

"I draw things," Johnny told him, "and I add things and I say A plus B equals C. In other words, I am -- or used to be -- a mathematics professor..."

"...There's na place f'r ye in this concairn. If ye were an engeeneer, pairhaps, or even a fairst-class puddler. But a teacher! A hypotheteecal word-mongerer--"

But Johnny was able to win him over, first with a bit of geometry (finding a geodesic on the surface of the walls and floors that allows for an electrical cord to be shortened thereby saving money) and then with a classic object from topology (the Möbius strip allows Johnny to out-smart MacDonald's old rival who has found a loophole in a contract allowing him to paint only one side of MacDonald's fence).

Much thanks to Sandro Caparrini for sending me this wonderful old gem of mathematical fiction, originally published in the July 1941 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and recently republished in the collection The Far Side of Nowhere.

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Works Similar to The Geometrics of Johnny Day
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Professor Morgan's Moon by Stanley Waterloo
  2. Coconuts by Ben Ames Williams
  3. The Tachypomp by Edward Page Mitchell
  4. Uncle Georg's Attic by Ben Schumacher
  5. Paul Bunyan versus the Conveyor Belt by William Hazlett Upson
  6. The Gangs of New Math by Robert W. Vallin
  7. No-Sided Professor by Martin Gardner
  8. The Adventures of Topology Man by Alex Kasman
  9. A. Botts and the Moebius Strip by William Hazlett Upson
  10. Unreasonable Effectiveness by Alex Kasman
Ratings for The Geometrics of Johnny Day:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
5/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
3/5 (1 votes)

MotifMath as Beautiful/Exciting/Useful, Romance, Mobius Strip/Nonorientability,
TopicGeometry/Topology/Trigonometry, Real Mathematics,
MediumShort Stories,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)