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Tales Of The Fourth Dimension: "And He Built a Crooked House" by Robert. A. Heinlein
Unfolded and Folded Tesseracts
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
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
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.
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
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.
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!
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.