This story contains a brief explanation of the transfinite cardinals
and their arithmetic as part of a scary bit of science fiction. Why,
you may ask (and the character in the story does), do the transfinite
cardinals not seem to describe anything in the real world? The
answer, as we find out, is simply that we were not ready for
them...until now. But, that has changed, and whoever is controlling
our "chronon" has noticed it. So we can expect a more sophisticated
universe -- in which omega plays a more prominent role -- to begin any
moment. (Good, I'm glad. That set theory class will finally begin to
pay off!) First published in Blish's collection *So Close to
Home* (1961) and reprinted in Mathematical
Magpie. |