In 1884, Edwin A. Abbott published a brilliant novel about mathematics and philosophy that charmed and fascinated all of England. As both a witty satire of Victorian society and a means by which to explore the fourth dimension, Flatland remains a tour de force. Now, British mathematician and accomplished science writer Ian Stewart has written a fascinating, modern sequel to Abbott's book. Through larger-than-life characters and an inspired story line, Flatterland explores our present understanding of the shape and origins of the universe, the nature of space, time, and matter, as well as modern geometries and their applications. The journey begins when our heroine, Victoria Line, comes upon her great-great-grandfather A. Square's diary, hidden in the attic. The writings help her to contact the Space Hopper, who becomes her guide and mentor through eleven dimensions. Along the way, we meet Schrödinger's Cat, The Charming Construction Entity, The Mandelblot (who lives in Fractalia), and Moobius the one-sided cow. In the tradition of Alice in Wonder-land and The Phantom Toll Booth, this magnificent investigation into the nature of reality is destined to become a modern classic.
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In 1884, an amiably eccentric clergyman and literary scholar named Edwin Abbott Abbott published an odd philosophical novel called Flatland, in which he explored such things as four-dimensional mathematics and gently satirized some of the orthodoxies of his time. The book went on to be a bestseller in Victorian England, and it has remained in print ever since.
With Flatterland, Ian Stewart, an amiable professor of mathematics at the University of Warwick, updates the science of Flatland, adding literally countless dimensions to Abbott's scheme of things ("Your world has not just four dimensions," one of his characters proclaims, "but five, fifty, a million, or even an infinity of them! And none of them need be time. Space of a hundred and one dimensions is just as real as a space of three dimensions"). Along his fictional path, Stewart touches on Feynman diagrams, superstring theory, time travel, quantum mechanics, and black holes, among many other topics. And, in Abbott's spirit, Stewart pokes fun at our own assumptions, including our quest for a Theory of Everything.
You can't help but be charmed by a book with characters named Superpaws, the Hawk King, the Projective Lion, and the Space Hopper and dotted with doggerel such as "You ain't nothin' but a hadron / nucleifyin' all the time" and "I can't get no / more momentum." And, best of all, you can learn a thing or two about modern mathematics while being roundly entertained. That's no small accomplishment, and one for which Stewart deserves applause. --Gregory McNameeAbout the Author:
Ian Stewart is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick, where he is Director of the Mathematics Awareness Center. He has published more than sixty books, including Does God Play Dice?, Nature's Numbers, Figments of Reality, and most recently, The Science of Discworld (with Terry Pratchett and Jack Cohen). Stewart was awarded the Royal Society's Michael Faraday Medal for furthering the public understanding of science, and he delivered the prestigious Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 1997. He also writes science fiction and contributes to a wide range of newspapers and magazines in the U.K., Europe, and the United States.
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