|We all know that among the surprising things you learn when you first
make a Mobius strip is
the fact that out of a two sided piece of paper you can make an object
with only one side. Why should this sequence not be able to be
continued? Could you continue to "fold" an object until it had
no sides? And what if you did this to a person? This cute
story, with some vaguley real sounding fictional mathematics, answers
all of these questions.
First published in Esquire magazine and then republished in Fantasia Mathematica and Mathenauts.
(Note that this story has a sequel: The Island of Five Colors.)
Interesting yet silly short story from the golden days of pulp sci-fi magazines. Contains topological references such as Mobius strips, klein bottles, etc. The concept of no-sided surfaces is continued in Ian McEwan's 1976 short story "Solid Geometry".
Ann Weber, Ph.D.|
I first read this story 35 years ago and it stuck with me, a vivid depiction of both the possibility and impossibility of applied (irrational?) topology. It was also an excellent introduction to detective fiction: how might one apply mathematics in seeking to cover up a crime? Finally, I never forgot that the author cleverly gave the protagonist's beloved, the math professor's daughter, the name "Abscissa." Really, isn't that a great name for a math professor's daughter? In sum, cute, silly, vivid--and memorable. Thanks for the opportunity to rate this story!
(Dr. Weber, I think you may be mistaking this story with The Tachypomp. It is in that story that Professor Surd's daughter is name "Abscissa".)
The footnote in this story was the reaason I am still interested in Topology. Very good reading,interesting, humorous. He was unique. RIP, Martin Gardner...And, by the way, thank you [Gardner] for The Anotated Alice, too.
In his preface to the story, Gardner mentions the following interesting fact:
"It was widely rumored in math circles that Slapenarski was modeled on the Polish toplogist, Samuel Eilenberg, but I had never heard of Eilenberg, and actually had no one in mind. Robert Simpson, however, is the mathematian Robert Simpson, with whom I had become acquainted when he was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin."