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Surfing an Einstein-Rosen Bridge

In Mathematicians in Love I’m working on a scene were my characters surf through a tunnel to a parallel sheet of space.

I first thought about how to do this in Chapter Eight of my 1984 book, The Fourth Dimension. The traditional way for connecting two parallel sheets of space is to imagine a hump that bulges out from one space and merges into the other space as shown in the figure below, which was drawn from one of my sketches by David Povilaitis. This kind of connection is traditionally known as an Einstein-Rosen bridge or a wormhole.

In this scene, by the way, we see the traditional Edwin Abbott Flatland hero A Square about to sneak off into the parallel world of Globland with a married Flatlander woman Una, whom he hopes to seduce. Note that “A” is not an abbreviation, it’s his full first name. (The science writer Ian Stewart recently published an interesting Annotated Flatland as well.)

Although we often think of Flatland as being a two-dimensional world like a table-top, we can also imagine, with Charles Howard Hinton and Kee Dewdney, a 2D world that’s turned upon its edge — like a cross-sectional slice of our planet.

By the way, I once edited a collection of Hinton’s writings called Speculations on the Fourth Dimension which is now out of print, but available used, or (in part) online.

In the Hinton/Dewdney-style 2D world we have a notion of up/down matching the familiar one. In my 2002 novel Spaceland I used this kind of image.

In this picture we see a couple of Flatlanders at a hot-dog stand. They’re drawn with some internal detail instead of just as, like, lines and squares with eyes. Those bumps on the roof are Flatland writing.

Now we get to the new image for today.

This is a three-in-one picture:

(1) A Square on a surfboard in a 2D world, riding a wave towards the shore.

(2) A couple of sketches of an Einstein-Rosen bridge between two parallel universes, and in one of them I’ve drawn in water and air for the two worlds. The water sloshes right through the tunnel.

(3) A Square surfs into one end of an Einstein-Rosen bridge and comes out the other end — now facing away from the shore.

Before drawing this picture I hadn’t realized that the passage through the hypertunnel would turn my surfers away from the shore. That’s why I love math and logic. You set up the system, turn the crank, and, if you’re lucky, you learn something new. It’s like logic is a complicated feeler that we use to reach out and touch invisible part of the mental world. As Kurt Gdel once told me, “The a priori is very powerful.”

5 Responses to “Surfing an Einstein-Rosen Bridge”

  1. Steve H Says:
    I think I found your next vacation destination; a lagoon inhabited by bioluminescent dinoflagellates, which sounds as if it should mean glowing dinosaurs with whips but doesn’t. In case this link vanishes with time, it’s in FAJARDO, Puerto Rico.

  2. r.s. Says:

    Way back when I first read “Infinity and the Mind” for the first time I thought it so cool that you got to speak with Gdel. I still do. I think you mention in that book that Einstein and Gdel would walk around Princeton talking. I remember thinking, wow, I would love to just walk along listening – then I realized they would be speaking in German and I wouldn’t have understood a damn word.
    I imagine them talking about God – if there is a god.
    “The a priori is very powerful” feels so big coming from him. I imagine he used every bit of will to break its grip.

  3. Lisa Williams Says:

    Sorry for the OT comment. I saw on the Evil Genius Chronicles that Robert Sheckley is ill and in the hospital in Kiev (
    I remember reading about your experiences with him in an essay in Seek!

  4. Lisa Williams Says:

    Oh, and I used to live in Ponce, Puerto Rico, about an hour’s drive from said bioluminescent lagoon. It’s great. If you go, stay at Villa La Parguera, it’s right on the water and the food is good.
    Synchronicity. I was toying around with the idea of going there on vacation later this year to celebrate our wedding anniversary.

  5. Tigre Darkhouse Says:

    The 4th dimension! I don’t claim to understand it, but i have seen it!
    The link above is an image of what I saw! It’s not my website, it’s Fotolog. But the image was created by me about seven years ago.
    Maybe you could tell me if you recognise it?
    There are some other images connected to it that you may like on the same Fotolog.
    Your comments would be appreciated.

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