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The Maxwell Equations (1969)
Anatoly Dnieprov
Highly Rated!

The math in this story seems very real, though the specifics of it are inconsequential to the plot. A mathematical physicist in an isolated city needs help finding a solution to a linearized version of Maxwell's equations, and he finds an offer for such help in a surprising ad in a newspaper. Going to the address listed in the paper, he finds that he is at the local insane asylum. Although this worries him, he is very pleased with the results: he shortly receives a package containing an absolutely brilliant, handwritten solution to the problem he posed. His theory that one of the residents at the asylum happens to be a great mathematician is shattered when he submits another question which is similarly answered, but in another person's handwriting. Eventually, he finds the truth, that a Nazi war criminal is working in the asylum on a method for taking ordinary people and making them into brilliant mathematicians (for the rest of their shortened lives) through electro-magnetic stimulation.
Originally published in Russian Science Fiction (edited by Robert Magidoff, 1969), this story was also reprinted in Mathenauts.

Contributed by shankar prasad

an excellent theme well knitted with characters

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Works Similar to The Maxwell Equations
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Proof by Induction by José Pablo Iriarte
  2. Axiom of Dreams by Arula Ratnakar
  3. Snow by Geoffrey A. Landis
  4. Star, Bright by Mark Clifton
  5. The Crazy Mathematician by Ralph Sylvester Underwood
  6. The Seventh Stair by Frank Brandon
  7. Love and a Triangle by Stanley Waterloo
  8. Paint ‘Em Green by Burt Filer
  9. The Second Moon by Russell R. Winterbotham
  10. The Long Slow Orbits by H.H. Hollis
Ratings for The Maxwell Equations:
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:
3.17/5 (6 votes)
Literary Quality:
4.5/5 (6 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
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)