Submitted by elze on Wed, 10/22/2014 - 12:51

in

at the "Mathematics, magic, and mystery panel". The panel started out with a discussion of a book by the same name that explored mathematical "paradoxes". Many of them were pretty simple and not paradoxical at all -- for example, the trick where you divide a right triangle into squares, and reshuffle them to make an empty square, thus making a part of the triangle's area to "disappear". While true mathematical paradoxes can be interesting to explore and could serve as science fiction story material, they would probably require too much advanced mathematical knowledge than an average science fiction reader has; thus, they weren't the focus of this panel. I have to say I didn't understand what role these tricks were supposed to play in this panel.

Luckily, the discussion became more interesting when the panelists went on to explore how mathematics influences science fiction. Apparently, there isn't much science fiction -- at least not very well known -- where the central idea is mathematical. Our panelists mentioned these works:

Fantasia Mathematica -- a compilation of math-inspired stories by various authors, 3 of them are about Mobius strip. It also contains poetry and other oddities.

Margaret Ball "Mathemagics", which started out as a short story and later became a novel. To be a wizard you have to be a very good mathematician.

A story (title unknown) in Greg Egan's collection Luminous there is a story about aliens in a different universe with different mathematics that intersects with ours in "computationally remote areas of the universe".