Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Return to the Land of the Second Dimension

I finally got around to finishing off Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott. I felt the middle section of the book started to drag a little bit, which may or may not be my reasoning for taking a small break from it. But I'm glad I pushed myself to finish it. The last third of this story is where the real action takes place.

Beginning about two thirds into the story, our humble square of a main character has a dream in which he encounters the inhabitants of Line Land, or the First Dimensional World. He has an interesting conversation with the king, in which he learns how life works in Line Land. And with some frustration, the square tries to explain his second dimensional world to the King. But the King cannot comprehend this. Living in Line Land his whole life, he knows no other motion besides side to side. And when the square goes through the first dimension, the King suspects magic. This is about when the square wakes up.

Some time shortly after this dream, on the last day of their millenium, the square has a visit by a sphere from the Third Dimension, Space Land. This time, the square is in disbelief of the next dimension. It takes the sphere a bit of persuading to finally make the square understand. The sphere ends up taking the square to Spaceland, which allow the square to see his own plane of existence in a different light. He then becomes enthused about learning that another dimension besides his own does indeed exist. And he agrees with the sphere to spread the testimony of the Third Dimension.

However, because he knew too much, he is imprisoned when he returns. And that is where he writes the story from.

For having been written over a century ago now, this book feels a lot more like a modern book than one written during those times. I don't remember if I mentioned this last time or not, but this book is in the Public Domain and is available for free on Project Gutenberg. If you ever yearn to let the mathematician in you out for a little ride, you should really think about giving this book a quick read: Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott.

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