Mathematicians in Love
Rudy Rucker

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Mathematicians in Love


science fiction

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Mathematicians in Love

Copyright © 2006 by Rudy Rucker

1: Bela, Paul, and Alma

It was an April morning in Humelocke, and I was working on my Ph.D. thesis; that is, I was staring out my apartment window and imagining Minkowski hyperplanes buttressed by homotopy sheaves, with the whole twinkling cloud castle tethered to a trio of animated figurines shaped like, oh, a rake, a fish, and a teapot. Three morphons.

Say what? I’m a mathematician.



“Plants and animals, the weather, political movements, your personal shifts of mood—all of these are what we might call chaotic dynamical systems. The key new insight is that any given dynamical system can be precisely modeled by a wide range of other dynamical systems, often of a quite different kind. [...] We’ll read the weather in a teacup; watch a flapping flag for a medical diagnosis; model the legislature as a pile of rotting fruit.”

2: Cone Shell Aliens

Some local Buddhists had opened an Italian gelato-style ice cream parlor. It had a glowing electric sign in the window with a divine eye and an “Om Mane Padme Yum” mantra in pastel neon script.



“I know that graduations are hard. Your relatives think it’s a big happy day, but it isn’t happy at all. It’s like dying. And now we’re going into another world.”



3: Rocking with Washer Drop

People always have bad news for you when they call you “sir.”

4: Hypertunnel at the Tang Fat Hotel

“There’s only one way that people change the past, Bela. They stop thinking about it. They move on.”

5: Mathematicians from Galaxy Z

“If someone could change the past of their world, and still be in the same world, it wouldn’t work. The world wouldn’t be able to settle down. For instance if I reached back in time to keep my parents from meeting, then I wouldn’t have been born, so I wouldn’t be around to reach back and keep them from meeting, so I’d be born the same as before and end up wanting to reach back in time to keep them from meeting—like that.”


Time Travel

6: The Gobubbles

“With complete control of the Congress and the state legislatures, we can use the constitutional power of impeachment to remove the activist Common Ground judges,” rasped the mean little voice. “This is what the balance of powers stands for. With complete control of the Congress and the state legislatures, we will propose and, with the people’s help, pass a constitutional amendment to remove the outdated notions of Presidential and Congressional term limits. This is what a stable democracy deserves. The success of the hundred-percent campaign will bring lasting homeland security, a wave of transformative legislation, and an end to the prideful tyranny of the courts. Our great nation deserves no less than the hundred-percent freedom that a hundred-percent Heritagist victory will bring.” The applause crested like a thunderous wave, with the audience members cheering themselves hoarse.




It was odd, odd, odd to see people die. The world rolled on the same as before, as heedlessly as if a person were an ant or a wildflower or a puff of wind. Nature kept on making more and more of everything, and never mind that birth is a death sentence. [...] There were worlds upon worlds filled with people struggling and swarming like fretful gnats, all of them doomed to vanish into dust while the cosmic dance spun on.



7: The Best of All Possible Worlds

In a nondocile world like this one, it’s as if every single object can have free will. I love the way that feels. [...] this is the best of all possible worlds.

There’s still bad news in the paper, of course, and sometimes I quarrel with Alma. But that’s in the nature of things. A rapidly flowing stream has ripples; chaotic motions have sharp turns; societies have pockets of pain; your moods change unpredictably; the old die to make room for the young; whaddaya, whaddaya.

We’ve got it good.


Free will

text checked (see note) Apr 2008

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