a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|An administrator in the math department of a major research institute
has to decide how to handle a paper which proves the inconsistency of
Euclidean geometry. |
Math is definitely central to this story, but there is not much elaboration of the mathematical concepts (like the reported inconsistency of Euclidean geometry). The story concentrates more on how knowledge of this discovery will affect the mathematical and scientific communities and the world at large.
The protagonist of the story (Dr. Donald Lucus) is in a position to either support or block publication of the dangerous new proof by a young mathematician. In this way, he can be compared to Leopold Kronecker when he was in a position to block publication of Georg Cantor's theories on infinite sets and transfinite numbers. However, the portrayal of Lucus is very sympathetic since he is shown as being concerned with the effects on society of publication. Although history has proven Kronecker wrong, he was also convinced that he was doing the right thing, and probably for what he thought were adequate reasons.
This story can also be compared to the discovery and revelation of non-Euclidean geometry. In fact, a brief reference is made in the story to a Hungarian mathematician (of another name) which may be a nod to Janos Bolyai.
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|(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.)|
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)