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The Einstein See-Saw (1932)
Miles J. Breuer
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

Contributed by Vijay Fafat

This is another of the hyperspace stories by Miles Breuer. This time, a mathematical physicist discovers that mattter can be tossed around in and out of space(-time) [see his papers, "A Preliminary Report of Experimental Work in the Physical Manipulation of Tensors" and "The Parallel Transformations of Equations for Matter, Energy, and Tensors"]; if done fast enough, this catapulting sets up a see-saw action, causing sections of 3-D space to swing "up and down" in the fourth dimension, in accordance with Einstein's GR equation. As the professor's lovely (obviously) daughter explains:

(quoted from The Einstein See-Saw)

"My father is Professor Bloomsbury at the University of Chicago. He has been experimenting in mathematical physics, and I have been assisting him. He has succeeded in proving experimentally the concept of tensors. A tensor is a mathematical expression for the fact that space is smooth and flat, in three dimensions, only at an infinite distance from matter; in the neighborhood of a particle of matter, there is a pucker or a wrinkle in space. My father has found that by suddenly removing a portion of matter from out of space, the pucker flattens out. If the matter is heavy enough and its removal sudden enough, there is a violent disturbance of space. By planning all the steps carefully my father has succeeded in swinging a section of space on a pivot through an angle of 180 degrees, and causing two portions of space to change places through hyperspace, or as you might express it popularly, through the fourth dimension."

By chance, an unscrupulous but brilliant engineer gets hold of the professor's work [the professor's table accidentally swings into his room, carrying with it many of the physicist's papers and books like "'Theory of Parallels,' Lobatchevsky; 'Transformation of Complex Functions,' Riemann; 'Tensors and Geodesics,' Gauss,'Tensors,' by Christoffel; 'Absolute Differential Calculus,' by Ricci and Levi Civita. And Schrödinger and Eddington and D'Abro."]. He builds a suitable catapult and uses his access to hyperspace to steal safe deposits across the city.

A reporter from "The Enquirer" and the daughter bump into the thief by chance, get marooned in hyperspace as a punishment and after a bit of misadventure, are able to return to our space-time, getting rid of the thief by accident as well. A pretty hokum story.

Originally published in Astounding Stories, April 1932 and now available for download at

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Works Similar to The Einstein See-Saw
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Scandal in the Fourth Dimension by Amelia Reynolds Long (as "A.R. Long")
  2. The Gostak and the Doshes by Miles J. Breuer (M.D.)
  3. The Appendix and the Spectacles by Miles J. Breuer (M.D.)
  4. The Captured Cross-Section by Miles J. Breuer (M.D.)
  5. The Book of Worlds by Miles J. Breuer
  6. Into the Fourth by Adam Hull Shirk
  7. Gold Dust and Star Dust by Cyrill Wates
  8. A Modern Comedy of Science by Issac Nathanson
  9. The Mobius Trail by George Smith
  10. The Professor's Experiments - The Dimension of Time by Paul Bold
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GenreScience Fiction,
MotifAcademia, Higher/Lower Dimensions,
TopicGeometry/Topology/Trigonometry, Mathematical Physics,
MediumShort Stories, Available Free Online,

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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)