MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Circle of Zero (1936)
Stanley G. Weinbaum
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Thanks to Vijay Fafat for pointing out this story (with only a little math in it). A character speculates that the laws of probability predict that anything will happen in an infinite amount of time, and applies this to the (presumably) infinite history of time to conclude that everything has happened before. Using this basis, he promptly goes on to get rich.

(quoted from The Circle of Zero)

'Don't you see, Jack? In eternity the Law of Chance functions perfectly. In eternity, sooner or later, every possible combination of things and events must happen. Must happen, if it's a possible combination. I say, therefore, that in eternity, whatever can happen, will happen!' His blue eyes blazed in pale fire.

I was a trifle dazed. 'I guess you're right,' I muttered.

'Right! Of course I'm right. Mathematics is infallible. Now do you see the conclusion?'

'Why—that sooner or later everything will happen.'

'Bah! It is true that there is eternity in the future; we cannot imagine time ending. But Flammarion, before he died, pointed out that there is also an eternity in the past. Since in eternity everything possible must happen, it follows that everything must already have happened!'

Originally published in Thrilling Wonder magazine in August 1936.

More information about this work can be found at gutenberg.net.au.
(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 Circle of Zero
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. John Jones's Dollar by Harry Stephen Keeler
  2. Perry Rhodan 2638: Zielpunkt Morpheus-System by Marc A. Herren
  3. The Finan-seer by Edward L. Locke
  4. The Law by Robert M. Coates
  5. Aleph Sub One by Margaret St. Clair
  6. And He Built a Crooked House by Robert A. Heinlein
  7. The Push of a Finger by Alfred Bester
  8. No-Sided Professor by Martin Gardner
  9. By a Fluke by Arthur Porges
  10. The Unwilling Professor by Arthur Porges
Ratings for The Circle of Zero:
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:
2/5 (1 votes)
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Literary Quality:
2/5 (1 votes)
..

Categories:
GenreHumorous, Science Fiction,
MotifTime Travel,
TopicMathematical Finance, Probability/Statistics,
MediumShort Stories, Available Free Online,

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May 2016: I am experimenting with a new feature which will print a picture of the cover and a link to the Amazon.com page for a work of mathematical fiction when it is available. I hope you find this useful and convenient. In any case, please write to let me know if it is because I would be happy to either get rid of it or improve it if that would be better for you. Thanks! -Alex

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)