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Feigenbaum Number (1995)
Nancy Kress
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)

A postdoc who perceives reality different than other people (he sees something like the Platonic ideals people ought to be) works with a professor on combining chaos theory with particle physics. I'm not sure how these three ideas fit together, but in the end it works pretty well!

The author has explained that she is "math-impaired", and so it is not surprising that some of the math is not quite right. (Her description of strange attractors is way off base, and the Feigenbaum constant is something specific to logistic-like dynamical systems and not some sort of general phenomenon associated to chaotic systems as she suggests.) But, some of the math is right, and even the stuff that isn't feels basically right if you don't think about it too much.

There are also a number of scenes in which the postdoc is doing a terrible job of teaching an undergraduate class which may be of interest to visitors to this site.

Originally appeared in Omni (Winter 1995) and now available at GoogleBooks.

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to Feigenbaum Number
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Axiom of Dreams by Arula Ratnakar
  2. The Hollow Man by Dan Simmons
  3. Proof by Induction by José Pablo Iriarte
  4. Improbable by Adam Fawer
  5. Risqueman by Mike Wood
  6. Distress by Greg Egan
  7. Luminous by Greg Egan
  8. Strange Attractors by Charles Soule (author) / Greg Scott (Illustrator)
  9. Snow by Geoffrey A. Landis
  10. Calculating the Speed of Heartbreak by Wendy Nikel
Ratings for Feigenbaum Number:
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:
4/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (1 votes)

GenreScience Fiction,
MotifAcademia, Proving Theorems, Math Education,
TopicMathematical Physics, Chaos/Fractals,
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)