Top positive review
A Pleasing Guided Tour to Higher Dimensions
on June 17, 2001
The heroine Vikki Line is a great-great-granddaughter of the narrator A. Square of Edwin Abbott's classic book, "Flatland." The teenaged Flatlander heroine goes to a tour to higher dimensional worlds guided by a Space Hopper. She visits the Fractal Forest, Topologica, Platterland, Cat Country, the Domain of Hawk King, etc., and learns, together with the reader, about many concepts of modern mathematics and physics. The author Ian Stewart, a winner of the Royal Society's Michael Faraday Medal for furthering the public understanding of science, writes the story in the style of "Alice in Wonderland" by using enjoyable wordplay and putting exotic and cute creatures he invented to familiarize the difficult concepts.
Some topics are treated in a manner to give the reader good understanding, but others are described only superficially. There are simple errors in giving a number for fractal dimension and describing the behavior of the decoherence time. (I leave it to the reader as exercises to spot them.) The author explains the particle nature of the photon by the uncommon use of the process of electron-impact photon emission, while the orthodox explanation uses the inverse process, i.e., the photoelectric effect.
In spite of these minor defects, this is a joyous read for holidays. The heroine is depicted as such a clever, adventurous and charming linear being (near the end of the story she comes to know that she is something superior to a line) that I think how I would have been happy if I had had a girlfriend like her in my youth. Her guide and tutor, the Space Hopper, often shows a big grin, reminding us of the popular physicist and good lecturer Richard Feynman. In the short last chapter, the reader feels it important that more of us, "Planiturthians," become aware of the possible ten-dimensional reality of our physical universe, which Vikki learned at the final stage of her tour. Thus, I would like to recommend this book to every curious mind.