A Subway Named Mobius

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1950 short story by astronomer A.J. Deutsch: “The principles of connectivity state that as a system makes more connections to other parts of itself, the connectivity of that system increases in an exponential fashion to staggering levels. The subway under New York City had been growing in complexity for years. It was so complex, in fact, that the best mathematicians could not calculate its connectivity.

Then the first train disappeared. The system was closed, so it couldn’t have gone anywhere, but when all the trains were pulled, they still couldn’t find it. The searchers would see a red light, wait curiously, and hear a train passing in the distance, sometimes so close that it appeared to be just around the next bend. Where was the train? What happened to the passengers? Professor Tudor has a theory…”

Does anyone else remember this story, which I read in the ’50’s and which has stuck with me ever since… ?


Mathematical Fiction Homepage

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Moebius 17

If you can make heads or tails of it:

“Two writers are bombing a train. Eventually, drawing the highlights, they are suprised by the security staff. They are being chased but finally manage to escape. One of the two writers, starred by Johannes Benecke, decides not to give up until he gets “a fuckin’ picture of his fuckin’ train”. Trying to get a picture of his rolling canvas, he has to face a labyrinth of subway lines crossing each other, connections, quotations, fantastic observations, and paradoxical indications. However, Train No. 17 is missing inside the underground system. The Public Transport are looking for the disappeared train as well. The special Graffiti commission, special forces, and computer experts begin to chase. Parallelly, the chairman of the Public Transport, Himmel, is being accused of corruption while building a new cross connection. This is not by chance. In real life, Himmel’s name is Arno Funke who became Germany’s most sympathetic blackmailer of department stores using the alias “Dagobert”. Is he once again trying to escape in the underground with millions? Jörg Gudzuhn does not play a role in here. However, the actor starred already in 1994 as a commissioner searching the “Phantom” Dagobert. In 1991, he starred as a professor looking for a ghost train in Berlin in the movie “Moebius”. The current Moebius conspirancy started in 1997, when Frank Lämmer watched the Argentinian adaption of the story. Since that time, he has been on the “Moebius-stripe”. This differentially theoretical phenomenon, named after its discoverer A.F.Moebius, was not only engraved by the Dutch artist M.C. Escher in wood but has also animated the writer Esher to follow the nine ants of his namesake. Together with Jo Preußler he started the securing of evidence in 2002. After a wooden subway got cinematically lost inside the subway system of Buenos Aires, it is now up to No. 17. Both of the two Berlin film-makers have realized that one cannot get anywhere with this paradox using the five senses and a classical conservative world view. Therefore, they grab together with a crew of writers the motif of the short story “A Subway Named Moebius” by A. J. Deutsch(1950) and actualize the following idea: Two writers are bombing a train …”