Math Expands: Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle's creative novels, especially the prize-winning, ever-popular A Wrinkle in Time, have introduced generations of readers to the concept of higher dimensions and the objects like the Tesseract that can be found there. When Meg wants to locate her Father, she has to be open to new ideas that change her conceptions of space and time. Her journeys take her, momentarily, to a two-dimensional planet, and lead her to explore a space of four-dimensions with time as a fifth dimension. Many young women and men have been inspired to learn more about mathematics as a result of this imaginative introduction to the full range of dimensions.

The tesseract

For many readers, A Wrinkle in Time provides the first introduction to the Tesseract, a mysterious concept that somehow leads to higher dimensions.

Rotate the Tesseract!

Use your left mouse button to rotate the tesseract in ordinary space.
(Rotate x-y-z with w held constant.)

Use your right mouse button to rotate the tesseract into the fourth dimension.
(Rotate x-y-w with z held constant.)

The color represents the distance into the fourth dimension. Red is "lowest" (w = -2) and violet is "highest" (w = +2).


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Madeleine L'Engle and her ideas

Karen Funk Blocher's The Tesseract: A Madeleine L'Engle Bibliography in Five Dimensions provides a biography, a summary of L'Engle's works and their interconnections, and other resources.

A group of Yale students has created an imaginative collection of materials on Madeleine L'Engle and the Fourth Dimension, including sections on sprituality, mathematical analysis, animation, and classroom materials for introducing middle school students to L'Engle's work and the mathematics behind it.

The Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame recently inducted Madeleine L'Engle, and provides a short biography.

Finally, L'Engle fans will enjoy the unabashed enthusiasm of Bonastra.