a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Location, velocity, end point (2022)
Matt Tighe

A time-traveler tries to reach the right point in spacetime to save his young son from a horrible disease. However, the computations he needs to achieve this goal are frustrated by some analogue of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle:

(quoted from Location, velocity, end point)

I look at my boy. He is frail, and failing. I know what failure looks like, and what frailty feels like. My notepad is full of both. I cannot know where I am and where I am going. I would trade so much for a drop of uncertainty in those numbers. I would trade everything. Uncertainty would mean hope.

Mathematical language is used to describe his attempts and his despair:

(quoted from Location, velocity, end point)

But now all I see are my desperate attempts to limit infinity with indefinite integrals, my inability to catch such a minuscule span of history in a prison of Hessian matrices. Location, velocity. End point. There are too many variables.

Although the author has some graduate training in mathematics (and does ecological modeling), his use of mathematical terminology sounds nonsensical to me. (What do indefinite integrals have to do with infinity? Maybe he meant improper integrals...that would make a bit more sense.) Similarly, the idea of applying Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle to this situation was beyond my ability to suspend disbelief. (Is traveling backwards in time a sort of "velocity"?)

Although I am not a big fan of this story, frequent site visitor Allan Goldberg (who brought it to my attention) liked it very much and defended the author against my criticisms by writing:

Contributed by Allan Goldberg

[T]he author ... is applying and modifying quantum mechanical principles, such as the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, to the macro world for the sake of a good story.

His use of the term “indefinite integrals” is meant to convey mathematical uncertainty to the lay reader (you and I can think of this more comfortably as a metaphorical use of the mathematical term.)

I feel that the story is “mathematical” in the sense that it uses mathematical terms (albeit haphazardly in the flash fiction format) in service of a good story.

The author himself describes it as "a story about work–life balance". It was published in the 07 December 2022 issue of Nature as part of the regular "Futures" column.

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to Location, velocity, end point
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Writing on the Wall by Steve Stanton
  2. The Planck Dive by Greg Egan
  3. Applied Mathematical Theology by Gregory Benford
  4. Private i by S. R. Algernon
  5. Freemium by Louis Evans
  6. Not a Chance by Peter Haff
  7. The First Task of My Internship by Ziyin Xiong
  8. Perturbation - For Nature Computes On A Straight Line (In Seven Balancing Acts) by Vijay Fafat
  9. The Mandelbrot Bet by Dirk Strasser
  10. PreVision by John Pierce
Ratings for Location, velocity, end point:
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)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifTime Travel,
TopicMathematical Physics,
MediumShort Stories,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)