Thought X: Fictions and Hypotheticals

Edited by Ra Page & Dr Rob Appleby

Featuring leading scientists acting as consultants on the stories, and writing scientific afterwords, bringing the theory featured in the stories to life, including Prof. Sarah Bridle (Jodrell Bank), Prof. Jonathan Wolff and Prof. Frank Jackson (the inventor of the 'Mary's Room' thought experiment).

Science is always telling stories. Whether in the creation myths of evolution or the Big Bang, or in the eureka moments of science history, narrative – just as much as metaphor – is a key tool in the scientist’s surprisingly literary toolkit. Perhaps the most interesting use of story is the thought experiment, the intuition pump, that draws on the most instinctive parts of the imagination to crack otherwise perplexing problems.

From Newton's Bucket, to Maxwell’s Demon, from Einstein's Lift to Schrödinger’s Cat – all are examples of 'fiction' being used at the highest level, not just to explain, but to deduce, to prove. In this unique anthology, authors have collaborated with leading scientists, to bounce literary, human narratives against purely theoretical ones, alloying together real stories with abstract ones, to produce truly extraordinary results.

Full list of thought experiments: The Twin Paradox, The Grandfather Paradox, Maxwell's Demon, Laplace's Demon, Mary's Room, The Chinese Room, Schrödinger's Cat, Galileo's Boat, The Infinite Monkey Typing Pool, Einstein in a LIft, Einstein Chasing a Beam of Light, Newton's Bucket, Olber's Paradox.



Starburst Magazine gave Thought X 9/10 in their preview of the book 

'This makes for a lively mix of styles and subject matter. Comma are to be applauded for encouraging fiction writers to write (and readers to read) about such unusual topics.' - Pippa Goldschmidt, Shoreline of Infinity 

Listen to Tara Shears talk about Special Relativity and the Twin Paradox at the Bluecoat in Liverpool

Listen to Margaret Wilkinson read her story, 'If He Wakes', at the Newcastle Centre for Literary Arts, only on MacGuffin:

From Part 1 of the Project:

Initially this project grew out of a out of a commission of five stories from the following writers:

        Sara Maitland (2 stories) - working with Dr Rob Appleby and Professor Tara Shears
        Sara Schofield - working with Dr Rob Appleby
        Marie Louise Cookson - working with Dr Rob Appleby
        Claire Dean - working with Prof Roman Frigg

The first two stories, by Sara Maitland, are titled 'The Beautiful Equation' (dealing with anti-matter and Paul Dirac's formulation of the Schrödinger equation) and 'Dark Humour' (about the four fundamental forces) have been included in Sara's new collection Moss Witch. Follow the link for more. 
The other three stories, 'The Tiniest Atom', 'Bright Boy' and 'People Watching' - which explore the thought experiments 'Laplace's Demon', 'Maxwell's Demon' and 'Gallileo's Boat', respectively - are available to read online below, along with their afterwords.

Read Bright Boy by Marie Louise Cookson.

Afterword by Dr Rob Appleby here.

Read People Watching by Claire Dean.

Afterword by Prof Roman Frigg here.

Read The Tiniest Atom by Sarah Schofield.

Afterword by Dr Rob Appleby here.

In the meantime, here are some clips of three of the above mentioned stories being read and discussed, on Radio Four's 'Open Book' with Mariella Frostrup, at Lancaster Litfest, and at Manchester's MadLab.

1. LISTEN TO: Prof. Tara Shears and Sara Maitland discuss anti-matter and the story 'The Beautiful Equation' with Mariella Frostrup on Radio Four's Open Book.
Click here then scroll to 10mins in.

2. WATCH: Sarah SchofieldMarie-Louise Cookson and Dr Rob Appleby discuss Maxwell and Laplace's Demon, and the stories 'The Tiniest Atom' and 'Bright Boy' at MadLab.

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

3. Watch Dr. Rob Appleby and Sara Maitland discuss the four fundamental forces, and the story 'Dark Humour' at Lancaster Litfest.
(apologies for the poor sound). See it here.

Buy Hard Copy

Retail Price £9.99

Online Price £8.75

Buy the eBook

Book Details

20 Apr 2017