literature

Flatland: a romance of many dimensions

I CALL our world Flatland, not because we call it so, but to make its nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in Space.Imagine a vast sheet of paper on which straight Lines, Triangles, Squares, Pentagons, Hexagons, and other figures, instead of remaining fixed in their places, move freely about, on or in the surface, but without the power of rising above or sinking below it, very much like shadows (…)

from Flatland by Edwin Abbot

Did you like the love story between the dot and the line?

Actually, its author took inspiration from another novel, Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, written in 1884 by Edwin Abbot, an English schoolmaster.

Flatland is a story about geometrical dimensions which takes the reader into different fantastic worlds, each of them belonging to a different dimension.

The science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov defined Flatland as “The best introduction one can find into the manner of perceiving dimensions“.

The story starts in the two-dimensional world of Flatland, which is inhabited by geometrical figures like triangles, squares, hexagons, and so on. Society is structured in such a way that the geometrical figures with the highest number of sides are on top of the social ladder. For example, isosceles triangles are soldiers or workmen, while equilateral triangles belong to the social class of artisans. Squares and Pentagons are doctors or lawyers, and nobility starts with hexagons and goes all the way up to the top, represented by circles, which are considered to be the “perfect” shape. Women however are simple line-segments and must emit a “peace-cry” when they walk, because in a two-dimensional world when a line is moving towards an observer they look like dots and can also be dangerous as they can stab and kill polygons.

The novel tells the story of a square who in a dream visits a one-dimensional world called “Lineland”, inhabited by points only.

The square then sees a sphere, which belongs to a three-dimensional world. This is something the square cannot understand at first, but then he also visits the sphere’s world, called “Spaceland”.

Moreover, in  another dream the Sphere visits the square again and takes him, guess where? To Pointland! Do you remember what dimension belongs a single dot? Yes, correct, no dimension!

The novel then continues with the square’s attempt to spread the idea of the existence of more than two- or three-dimensional worlds. His efforts however are not successful and he is eventually imprisoned.

What do you think of this very peculiar novel?

Should you be interested in reading it, the novel is available online at

http://www.geom.uiuc.edu/~banchoff/Flatland/

Did you know? Flatland has also been made a film… here is Flatland the movie official trailer

 

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One thought on “Flatland: a romance of many dimensions

  1. Ohhh Kristen Bell! I’ve been her fan for about 2 years! It’s a pity that I can hear only her voice in this film! =)

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