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The Planiverse: Computer Contact with a Two-Dimensional World Paperback – 1 Nov 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Copernicus; 2000 edition (1 Nov. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0387989161
  • ISBN-13: 978-0387989167
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 1.6 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 586,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"it gently approaches a relatively 'new' universe of ideas, inventions and conjectures..." -- The Computer Journal, Official Journal of the British Computer Society, Vol. 45 , Issue 5, 2002

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Yendred lived (and still lives I am sure) upon a disk-shaped planet called Arde. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 May 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This brilliant story is set in a two-dimensional universe, with which a group of the author's computing students enter into contact. They follow the adventures of Yendred, who lives on the planet Arda, which is of course a circle, not a sphere. He lives on the western edge of the single continent and decides to set out in search of the wisdom of the East. On the way he visits a scientific research institute and a centre for the arts, but neither gives him the understanding he thirsts for. The science of this flat world is worked out in great and convincing detail; there is even a periodic table of the 2-D elements. Eventually he reaches the highest point of the continent, the watershed between West and East, where he finds a shrine in the form of a rectangle - the two-dimensional equivalent of the cuboid Kaaba at the heart of Islam. I don't want to spoil the surprise that awaits readers when he gets there, but I can reveal the secret that beneath the two-dimensional surface of the story there is hidden a Sufi allegory, hinted at by the many Arabic words in the language of the flat world. This deeper level makes the book unique in science fiction. It leaves you seeing our three-dimensional universe through new eyes. My one complaint is that in the second edition the author felt it necessary to explain in an introduction that it was fiction; he had been pestered by too many readers asking for technical details of the computer settings that gave access to the Planiverse.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 April 2001
Format: Paperback
A.K. Dewdney has written a fascinating account of a two-dimensional world. What sets this book apart is the scientific rigour with which Dewdney describes how things work in (on?) a flat world.
It's very detailed, and very entertaining. A good read!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Acts5v29 on 9 Jan. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
An account of a computer science student's discovery of a 2-dimensional world and his friendship with one of its inhabitants.

The book digresses - "Hitchhikers" style - to explain the way physics will work in 2-dimensions a little too deeply for the flow of the novel, but is well worth reading and difficult to leave aside for long.

The £11.99 purchase price is too much though for what is a lighthearted work.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 20 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Simply Wow... 22 Mar. 2001
By Marco A - Published on
Format: Paperback
I have to admit, I read this book primarily so that I could selfishly affirm what I thought of as my theory: that in two dimensions, gravity would be proportional to the inverse of distance, as opposed to the inverse square law we know and love. I was surprised and overwhelmed that Dewdney includes this observation as one among many, of which others are much more important. Dewdney crafts this discussion of two-dimensions by setting up a fictional university scenario and aside from addressing the implications of a 2D world, also adds the implications and disbelief that a discovery of this kind might cause on earth. The story is one for anyone who has thought about differences in dimension, and truly made me think about how simple, yet complex our world would seem to a four dimensional being. Dewdney even includes an appendix of distinct ramifications of two-dimensions on different fields of science. (Maybe the fact that every reviewer so far has given this book five stars means something... GO READ IT!)
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Are you sure this is all there is? 30 April 2003
By Jedidiah Carosaari - Published on
Format: Paperback
When I was in high-school I had a very intelligent and immensely helpful English teacher, who taught me much of what writing skill I possess today. He came in highly excited one morning, to share with us about a new book he'd come across. Evidently, they had, through a computer, discovered an entirely new reality, that was two-dimensional! And this was an actual event, cutting edge stuff.
Well, a few days later, he came in, quite chagrined, to tell us that, as he read further through the book, he realized it was a work of fiction. But his description had been interesting enough to motivate me to read the book.
The Planiverse's reality is that real, and supported by that much scientific and mathematical principle- Dewdney has done his research, to bring us one of the most delightful what-ifs I've found. Imagine reality just like ours, but take out the third dimension. Everything is well supported, every area of life covered, and the drawings immensely helpful. You truly begin to feel for all the characters in the book. But it's not just an exercise in mathematical possibility. It is a rich story, telling of spiritual journey and insight, as Yendred travels to find his answers. And I still remember the ending as grippingly and eerily numinous, as we realize how closely the Planiverse and our Universe are connected, and how limited we are in comparison to the Eternal.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Back Cover 16 Sept. 1997
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Once every hundred years or so, a new reality is discovered. In 1884 Edwin Abbott's classic, Flatland, captured readers' imaginations with and ingenious excursion into a two-dimensional society. Now, a century later, Dr. Alexander Keewatin Dewdney, a theoretical computer scientist, takes us on an exciting journey through and an amazingly complex, self-consistent two-dimensional universe. The Planiverse combines science and speculation, technology and metaphysics, in an astonishing work of the imagination that is elegant, witty, and wonderful. Dr. Dewdney created a hypothetical two-dimensional universe as an exercise for his computer science students. They developed a program called 2DWORLD to model a detailed, although somewhat primitive, planet. then one day in May 1980, something extraordinaty happened. One of the creatures began to use a word not in the computer's vocabulary--YNDRD. And as the simple graphics generated by the program grew more detailed, a strange four-armed creature appeared, surrounded by a bizarre alien landscape. Somehow, the 2DWORLD program had conected with a real two-dimensional world. the creature who appeared became known as yendred, a youthful inhabitant of Arde, a planet somewhere inside the planiverse. And so began a fantstic odyssey into a two-dimensional world--as Dr. Dewdney and his students followed Yendred on a journey across Arde, sharing his adventures, learning his history, and discussing his philosophy. With over 125 illustrations and diagrams generated from Arde, The Planiverse is a record of that contact period--the computer-aided exploration of a new reality--complete with its own physics, chemisty, biology, philosophy, and civilization. Join Yendred and Dr. Dewdney and discover new possibilities and concepts that will change the way you look at your own world. (This is one of the best books I have ever read. I stayed up late many a night reading it, totally engrossed. I became attached to the characters, I saw the whole world that is The Planiverse through the illustrations. I was dissapointed when the book had to end, I wish it could have gone on longer.)
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
An intersting look at a two-dimensional world 23 July 1996
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is simply amazing. It tells the story of
YNDRD, a two-dimensional being who makes contact with
people on Earth through a computer program based on a
hypothetical 2-D world. The tale is written as a summary of
the computer-aided correspondence between Prof. Dewdney and
his colleagues and the so-called "planiverse", with excerpts
of the dialogue as it was received on the computer print-out.
Immense detail is given to the descriptions of the way of
life on the two-dimensional planet, including technology,
government and law, music, sports, science, and even religion.
Religion was, in fact, one of the aspects which gave me
extra admiration for the book and its author, because it
explores not only the religion of the Nsana (as the flat
people call themselves), but religion in general, giving insight
into a scientific and somewhat objective view of religion.
The story and its forays into alien culture are heightened
in effect by the great illustrations, and the technical
sections which go into the most detail about 2-D life.
I say again, this book is simply amazing, and conclude
with a recommendation to all interested in bizarre creatures,
science, or just really good books.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
One of the greatest books of all-time. 30 April 2001
By K. Feinstein - Published on
Format: Paperback
One of the greatest books of all-time. I don't want to over-sell it, so judge for yourselves. (heh) Seriously, this is probably the most complete fictional universe ever created. It reads like a dream and when it first came out (and I was a kid) I often wondered whether the events in the book had REALLY happened. It is that well constructed.
Before it originally went out of print I bought two extra copies so that I'd never be without it, I honestly suggest you read it, and if you like it at all - do the same. It will never leave your mind, and you'll be happy about that.
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