a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Fringe (Episode: The Equation) (2008)
J.R. Orci (Screenplay) / David H. Goodman (Screenplay)

The ``Fringe Team'' (an FBI agent, a mad scientist and his son) investigate a series of kidnappings in which the victim is hypnotized with red and green lights. In each case, the victim was about to solve some equation in their area of expertise when they vanished, and they are each a bit crazy when they reappear. The latest kidnapping is different in that the victim is a young music prodigy. It turns out that his musical ability is sufficiently mathematical to solve the bad guy's equation, allowing him to pass through solid matter.

I know that creator J.J. Abrams said that this show was going to be more accessible than his hit Lost, but I still can't make sense out of it.

Marco Mele, a student in Torino, Italy who heard me speak about mathematical fiction, suggested to me that other episodes of The Fringe should be added to my database. Following are his reviews of some other episodes that include mathematics:

Contributed by Marco Mele

In season 1, episode 19, "The road not taken", Dr. Bishop - the mad scientist just pulled out of a mental institution by Olivia Dunham, an FBI agent for whose Dr. Bishop works as a civilian consultant due to his expertise in an area called Fringe Science (after which the show has been named), explains that there is more than one "reality". Indeed - he explains - what we perceive as linear time, it is not: time, as well as what we define reality, is shaped and changed by the choice we make every day. Due to that, there exists an infinite set of parallel universes, just equal to ours but slightly different, populated by other versions of us. Along with this definition goes the one of dejà-vù's: they're glimpses, little visions of what he calls "the other side". A video on YouTube reports the most significant segment.

In the very following episode, "There's more than one of everything", the explanation of the alternate universe goes on: a multi-billion company CEO, William Bell, theorized that in our world there are "soft spots": areas in which the fundamental law of the nature has began to decay, such as the speed of the light. In those spots, the membrane between the universes is thinner, and it would be possible to "cross" to the other side: one of them is said to be the Bermuda Triangle. A full episode about the "crossing over" theory and application is season 2, episode 16, "Peter": and old-fashioned directed segment in which Dr. Bishop explains is adventure in crossing into the alternate universe several years before; I'm not going to explain more because it's a very significant part of the story, someone may not want such a spoiler; however, the story is briefly reported on Wikipedia.

In season 2, episode 15, "Jacksonville", a building in Manhattan comes from the other side and sets itself over the existing building of over here, violating Pauli's exclusion principle; follow harmonical and geometrical explanations to how to "swap" things between the two universes.

In season 2, episode 18, "White tulip", an MIT astrophysics professor Alistar Peck performed a way to jump back in the past by solving mathematical polynomial equations and implementing on his very body a Faraday cage; it was trying to jump back to the moment in which his fiancé was killed by a car accident.

In season 3, episode 3, "the plateau", the alternate universe's Fringe Team investigates on uncommon murders performed by a guy whose intelligence was enhanced by a medical experiment. This person was able to mentally compute high level differential equation and manage to predict short-time future events.

In season 3, episode 6, "6955 Hz", the Fringe team find itself to investigate on "number stations": radio-frequency transmissions of number sequences that seem to be a code coming by an ancient population: the first people. Lot of amateurs tried to decrypt what appeared to be a code, but that was indeed just covering a signal that made them suffer by amnesia, probably in order to "protect" the code.

Season 4, episode 6, "And those we've left behind", all over Boston time anomalies occur, due to a man trying to encase his house in a time-distorted ball. It turns out that anomalies were following a pattern: they were "drawing" the Fibonacci Golden Spiral.

In season 4, episode 12, "Welcome to Westfield", the two universes become to overlap themselves causing wide distruction; but as in a hurricane, there is a safe place: the eye of the cyclone, where the forces of nature contrast themselves.

I know I mentioned lot of them; actually in very each episode science goes as protagonist; all weird facts are explained in ways that let you think it might really be true.

Hoping that's going to be useful to your work, I want to thank you again for your presentation. Hope to have occasions to meet again.

Best regards, Marco Mele

Thank you, Marco!

Some of those clearly sound mathematical to me from the descriptions, and others less so. In any case, until I have had a chance to watch them for myself I will simply leave Marco's descriptions here for your convenience.

More information about this work can be found at
(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.)

Works Similar to The Fringe (Episode: The Equation)
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Doctor Who: The Algebra of Ice by Lloyd Rose (pseudonym of Sarah Tonyn)
  2. Simple Genius by David Baldacci
  3. 7 Steps to Midnight by Richard Matheson
  4. The Investigation by Stanislaw Lem
  5. Improbable by Adam Fawer
  6. The Lure by Bill Napier
  7. The Last Theorem by Arthur C. Clarke / Frederik Pohl
  8. Altar of Eden by James Rollins
  9. The Kingdom of Ohio by Matthew Flaming
  10. Stamping Butterflies by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Ratings for The Fringe (Episode: The Equation):
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:
2/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction, Adventure/Espionage,
MotifProdigies, Insanity, Music,
MediumTelevision Series or Episode,

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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)