a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

Home All New Browse Search About

Getting Rid of Fluff (1908)
Ellis Parker Butler
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

A humorous story in which two men formulate a mathematical "law of scared dogs" to help in frightening away an annoying dog named Fluff.

(quoted from Getting Rid of Fluff)

"I bet if Sir Isaac Newon had had Fluff as long as you have had him he would have had a formula all worked out -

x ÷ y (2 × z - dog)= 2(4ab-3x)

or something of that kind, so that anyone with half a knowledge of algebra could figure out the square root of any dog any time of the day or night. I could get up a Law of Dog myself if I had the time, with a dog like Fluff to work on. If one dog travels fourteen hundred and forty miles at the sight of a gun, how far would two dogs travel? All that sort of thing. Stop!" he ejaculated suddenly. "If one dog travels forty-eight hours at the sight of a gun, how far would he travel at the sight of two guns? Murchison," he cried enthusiastically, "I've got it! I've got the fundamental law of periodicity in dogs! Go get your gun," he said to me, "and I will get mine."

After some experimentation with a variety of numbers of guns, they determine that the time a dog will be gone would be inversely proportional to the number of guns. Hence, they later conclude:

(quoted from Getting Rid of Fluff)

Well, the inverse ratio to no guns is infinite time -- that is how long Fluff will be gone; that is how long he will run. Why, that dog will never stop running while there is any dog left in him. He can't help it -- it is the law of scared dogs.

Thanks to Douglass Keeslar for bringing it to my attention.

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 Getting Rid of Fluff
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Say Wen by Ellis Parker Butler
  2. Scandal in the Fourth Dimension by Amelia Reynolds Long (as "A.R. Long")
  3. The Root and the Ring by Wyman Guin
  4. Flower Arrangement by Rosel George Brown
  5. The Snowball Effect by Katherine Maclean
  6. The Higher Mathematics by Martin C. Wodehouse
  7. Folk Music Festivals and Mathematics Conferences by Erik Talvila
  8. All the Universe in a Mason Jar by Joe Haldeman
  9. Probability Pipeline by Rudy Rucker / Marc Laidlaw
  10. Fermat's Legacy by Ian Randal Strock
Ratings for Getting Rid of Fluff:
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)
Literary Quality:
2/5 (1 votes)

MediumShort Stories, Available Free Online,

Home All New Browse Search About

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)