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Papos (2007)
Alex Rose
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

A short piece which mixes up historical facts/pseudo-facts from Greek history with rich imagination to discuss the discovery of irrational numbers (Pythagoras, Hippasus), the vanishing point in perspective geometry and the representation of 3-dimensional drawings on planar surface. This forms the spring-board for the mystical leap by one “architectural apprentice named Cretheus” who decides to invent the geometrical technique to avoid the “optical foreshortening” of perspective drawing, with startling effect. To quote, “he demonstrates that it is indeed possible to eradicate the heathen numbers embedded in our visual universe – so long as the mind is fit to create its own.”

This story appeared in Rose's anthology The Musical Illusionist and Other Tales.

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Works Similar to Papos
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Dead Ancients Trilogy by Peter Hobbs
  2. City of Infinite Bridges by Alex Rose
  3. Turbulence by Giles Foden
  4. The Art Student's War by Brad Leithauser
  5. Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann
  6. A Disappearing Number by Simon McBurney
  7. Pythagoras's Darkest Hour by Colin Adams
  8. The Ishango Bone by Paul Hastings Wilson
  9. Continuums by Robert Carr
  10. The Fibonacci Confessions by Graham Wade
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GenreHistorical Fiction,
TopicGeometry/Topology/Trigonometry, Algebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory,
MediumShort Stories,

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