a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)
|This is the third and apparently final novel in the Nulapeiron sequence. In the first two we see Tom use his skills at fighting and mathematics (called "logosophy" in the book) as well as knowledge gained from the pilots who travel through fractal space to rise from poverty and slavery to being royalty. In this book, he rises even farther to become the ruler of the entire planet (unfortunately, it looks as if the human inhabitants of the planet are just about to be destroyed and so this is not a particularly fun time to be the ruler)! But, aside from frequent use of the terms "fractal" and "Calabi-Yau", there is really not much mathematics in this book.
So, since there is no real math in the book to discuss, let me just briefly discuss the phrase "Calabi-Yau" that it tosses around. These are the names of two mathematicians. Eugenio Calabi conjectured in 1957 that a certain sort of geometric object could always be "flattened" in a certain way. (To be more technical about it, he conjectured that every Kahler manifold with non-vanishing Chern class admits a Ricci flat metric!) That this was in fact true was proved by Shing-Tung Yau, who earned a Fields medal for his work.
These geometric objects that the two mathematicians were talking about can be seen as being six dimensional (technically, complex 3-dimensional) space, and such objects are now referred to as Calabi-Yau Manifolds or Calabi-Yau Spaces. They gained broad popularity (well, relatively popular for an abstract geometric object studied by mathematicians), when it was discovered that the six extra dimensions of space posited by String Theorists trying to come up with a physical "theory of everything" take the form of a Calabi-Yau manifold (a little tiny one at each point in space, too small for us to notice but still important for the way particles interact).
Certainly, this theory is what Meany had in mind when he used the term "Calabi-Yau" for the extra dimensions of space in the story that are part of the explanation of so many apparently fantastical things that occur.
Interestingly, Yau has been in the news again recently, but has not been portrayed favorably. His reaction to the announcement of a proof of the Poincare Conjecture by Grigori Perelman and his attempts to maintain his political status in China have both been criticized in the popular press! (I guess it's true what Cosmo Brown said in Singin' in the Rain: "That's the price of fame. You've got the glory, you gotta take the little heartaches that go with it.")
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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.)|
(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)