a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Woman in Schrödinger's Wave Equations (2005)
Eugene Mirabelli

The artist girlfriend of a grad student working in theoretical physics becomes interested in determining something about the mysterious woman with whom Erwin Schrödinger supposedly had an extra-marital affair when he discovered the famous evolution equation that bears his name in quantum physics.

Although this is arguably ``physical fiction'' (in more than one sense of the word!) and not ``mathematical fiction'', the physical implications of the equation are really not important to the story at all. Instead, the focus is on the symbolic formalism (especially the symbol ψ, which was unfortunately misprinted as y in the version of the story I read, messing it up a bit for any reader who does not know what it is supposed to look like) and the mathematical elegance of the equation (especially in contrast to Heisenberg's alternative matrix formulation.) So, I am adding this story to the list, but am giving it a rating of "barely mathematical". If you disagree, please feel free to enter your own vote using the form below.

I'm not sure why the title is plural. Unlike other equations in theoretical physics (e.g. Maxwell's Equations), Schrödinger's discovery is expressed in the form of a single equation. It may be that this is meant to refer not only to this one differential equation for the wave function ψ which (according to traditional quantum mechanics) applies universally to everything, but to all of the notes and derivations in his notebook that were produced during the affair.

This story appeared in the August 2005 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction, was nominated for a Nebula award, and was reprinted in the 2008 collection of Nebula winners edited by Ben Bova (and was actually the only story in the collection that was not actually a winner).

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Works Similar to The Woman in Schrödinger's Wave Equations
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Singleton by Greg Egan
  2. Schild's Ladder by Greg Egan
  3. Improbable by Adam Fawer
  4. The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross
  5. On the Quantum Theoretic Implications of Newton's Alchemy by Alex Kasman
  6. Diaspora by Greg Egan
  7. Oracle by Greg Egan
  8. Dark Integers by Greg Egan
  9. The Arrows of Time [Orthogonal Book Three] by Greg Egan
  10. River of Gods by Ian McDonald
Ratings for The Woman in Schrödinger's Wave Equations:
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:
1/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifReal Mathematicians, Romance,
TopicMathematical Physics,
MediumShort Stories,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)