Tales Of The Fourth Dimension: "And He Built a Crooked House" by Robert. A. Heinlein

Unfolded and Folded Tesseracts

Tesseract: Experimental mathematics, a building, or a portal to spacetime? The structure when unfolded is made of eight cubes.
Tesseract: Experimental mathematics, a building, or a portal to spacetime? The structure when unfolded is made of eight cubes. | Source

Time Travel Revisited

By the end of calendar year 2013, China had landed its first lunar rover on the Moon. Google's LunarX Prize competitors had several rover entries ready ahead of schedule for launch in early 2013, but none went up.

The United States ended its lunar exploration after Apollo 17, although an entertaining and realistic film called Apollo 18 raked up conspiracy theory about an ongoing contest between America and the USSR/Russia for lunar domination.

An explosion on the moon in the early 2010s, termed a clean up project, injected conspiracy theory with more material;. It gave support to the recordings of Apollo 7 astronaut's voice recordings about a large structure on the Moon. If such a building existed, the explosion demolished it.

China is on the Moon, perhaps to map out mining operations, such operations suggested as viable by author and ex-NASA engineer Homer Hickam in the book Return to the Moon.

With the American Commercial Crew's Mission to Mars stumbling over itself as it attempts to run full speed toward American space destiny around Jupiter, faster ships are required and time travel (breaking the speed of light) is taken more seriously.

Time Travel In Ohio

NASA installations in Cleveland, Ohio have been researching and experimenting with 1) teleportation and 2) breaking the speed of light ("time travel") for a few years at this writing.

The state is also fortunate to have former astronaut John Glenn, in his 90s, instructing college students from his own building on the main campus of The Ohio State University.

With its own Space Corridor taking up the entire Southwest Quadrant of the state from Cincinnati to Columbus, Ohio is knee deep in the future of American spacetime travel.

Once, we had only science fiction stories and novels, but those writings are finding reality.

Tesseract In Three Dimensions

Tesseract: A four-dimensional analog of a cube; also called a four-dimensional hypercube.
Tesseract: A four-dimensional analog of a cube; also called a four-dimensional hypercube.

And He Built A Crooked House

NASA built a lot of "crooked houses" that crashed and failed before it successfully sent mice, monkeys, and astronauts into outer space, around the Earth, and to the Moon.

Walt Disney Presents on Sunday night television broadcast the history of the space program and its progress for families to see in the 1950s and 1960s. However, writers had been creating stories about all that for decades and science fiction conventions discussed aerospace aspirations as early as the 1930s.

A particular story about a crooked house I enjoy is a tale of the fourth dimension. It takes its title from ideas in a Mother Goose rhyme:

There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile,

He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile;

He bought a crooked cat which caught a crooked mouse,

And they all lived together in a little crooked house.


The crooked house in the story is a folded tesseract that, when unfolded, leads to other dimensions in spacetime.

Address Of the Crooked House

A marker8775 Lookout Mountain Avenue in Hollywood -
8775 Lookout Mountain Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046, USA
[get directions]

In the 1941 short story that first appeared in Astounding Science Fiction, the address of a four-dimensional house is the address across the street from author Robert A. Heinlein's own house when he wrote the story. He chose a real address.

How many addresses would a real four-dimension house require? That might depend upon how many points in spacetime it can reach.

The Architect

In the Heinlein story, an ambitious architect becomes drunk with a friend and begins to complain about the state of architecture in 1940s America. It is too conservative. It is too confining. It is boring.

Frank Lloyd Wright felt the same ways about All of American architecture, so he created his own styles.

The drunken architect, Quintus Teal, decides to save real estate space with houses constructed into tesseracts. More specifically, these would be the unfolded tesseract style of eight cubes. He persuades his drinking partner to becomes more drunken and then persuades the man to sign a contract for a tesseract house.

The Henry Ford Square House, Garden City MI

This square house may look like the house in Heinlein';s story, before it unfolded into the 8-cube structure.
This square house may look like the house in Heinlein';s story, before it unfolded into the 8-cube structure. | Source

Collapse Of a Cube

After the house is constructed, an earthquake occurs in the middle of the night. Teal, his friend, and the friend's wife go to insect the new house and find only a single cube (one room) instead of eight cubes together (eight rooms). They jump to the conclusion that someone stole the other eight rooms! How, they cannot say.

In reality, the earthquake collapsed the 8-cubed unfolded tesseract into its folded state.

The trio enter the single room that is left and find a total of eight full-sized rooms inside. Moreover, they discover that every door and window leads to a different place on Earth. Another earthquake occurs and the three startled people land in an isolated desert - hopefully, on earth.

Back at the site of the tesseract house, the lot is now empty. The tesseract has entered another area of spacetime, wholesale.

IMPLICATIONS

If NASA and the Commercial Crew - or scientists abroad, say the Chinese - successfully find the mechanism for surpassing the speed of light, will we be able to use that mechanism in a practical manner?

Once past the speed of light, would a person be able to return to the same mark in spacetime at which he had departed? Science Fiction is full of instances in which people are not able to do so.

NASA and the Commercial Crew intend to pursue the Fourth Dimension until they have finally learned whether or not Warp Speed (faster-than-light) is possible to attain. Ohio may be the first to know!

Source

Astounding Science Fiction; February 1941

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Magic City (Nelson S. Bond)
  • Trouble on Tantalus (P. Schuyler Miller)
  • Sixth Column, part 2 of 3 by Anson MacDonald, pen name of Robert A. Heinlein
  • Completely Automatic (Theodore Sturgeon)
  • Castaway (Robert Moore Williams)
  • The Best-Laid Scheme (L. Sprague de Camp)
  • "...And He Built a Crooked House" by Robert A. Heinlein


Articles and Essays:

  • The Klystron by Stanley R. Short
  • Gypped! by Arthur McCann, pen name for Editor John W. Campbell, Jr.

And he built a crooked house

Rotaing Transparent Tesseract

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Comments 8 comments

grandmapearl profile image

grandmapearl 2 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

Fascinating stuff, just like the string theory and the bubble theory--there is so much we don't know about space and time. The idea that we can travel through time is fast becoming a real possibility. Loved this, Patty ;) Pearl

Voted Up+++ and shared


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America Author

Hi Pearl!

I received a science fiction anthology one Christmas and I always read more of the genre each December. I'll keep my ears open for progress in Ohio!


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 15 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

So, I am reading your hub about an Earl Stanley Gardner mystery when out of the corner of my eye I see Robert A. Heinlein's name and here I am. VEry interesting. I like that you had an Astounding Science Fiction on hand for a complete index.

I was having lunch with a young engineer a couple of years back and wa surprised to hear Heinlein had published a new book in 2004. 'For US the Living' by Schribner's. The claim it is his first book but remained unpublished. It embodied so much of his ideas put forth throughout his career.

Hey, it just took me two years to get here.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 15 months ago from North America Author

Hi mckbirdbks! - Hope you are very well. The old and new "pulp" magazines are fun to read and feature some pretty good stories. A couple of vintage book stores have collections of them here and one of our libraries has subscriptions to several of the magazines still in publication.

Heinlein's 2003-'04 subtitle "A Comedy of Customs" is what hooks me! Much fun and adventure, futuristically speaking.

I wonder how many writers have left manuscripts in garages, attics, old walls, and between the cushions of couches? -- Like the prequel/sequel to "To Kill a Mockingbird" to be released mid-July 2015 -- I'm Number 68 on my library's waiting list for "Go Set a Watchman"!


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 15 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

As someone who spent many years searching for books (to sell and read) I often saw journals, etc left behind. What fun. I took the proceeds from a book sale and preordered 'Go Set a Watchmen' because as someone offering books for sell as Mockingbird Books, it was a must have volume.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 15 months ago from North America Author

Oh, delightful to see such journals! I hope you and I both like the new-old Harper Lee book. As a child, I used to dream of living in the back of a large book shop.


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 15 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

My youngest, with her M.A. in Rhetoric, tells people she grew up in a bookstore. It was just the house, but it was filled with books. I feel they served their purpose. She has a love of books and now teaches at the Jr college level.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 15 months ago from North America Author

That's a memorable story to keep in my brain! Thanks for that.

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