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In middle school (ca. 1976) I read a science fiction book with a title similar to "Psi Phi." Unfortunately, I wasn't familiar with the Greek alphabet at the time, so the title never made sense to me, so I can't recall it accurately. Based on my vague memory of the title, I'm thinking it may have been an anthology or a series of science fiction novelas.

The story was about a man who, while experimenting on "a block of tungsten," learned how to travel to a different universe at will. He described the process of learning to travel there as "knowing where the latch on a secret drawer was." While in the other universe, his surroundings were uninterpretable, "like swirling shapes and colors." He noticed his own body was (consistent with everything else in this universe) a confusing mass of swirling shapes and colors.

Eventually, a being from the other universe followed him back to his universe. It was a woman with purple eyes.

That's about all I remember. Except that I enjoyed the story and read it 3 or 4 times. One of the reasons I kept coming back to it, was that it did refer to a number of things (like different elements, such as tungsten) that I was just beginning to learn about. I didn't understand all the connections the story made, but they intrigued me.

I'd like to read the story again as an adult. Would anyone know the name of the book, the name of the story, or the author's name?

marked as duplicate by Otis, Au101, Blackwood, user31178, Ward Oct 7 '16 at 5:10

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    The Universe Between? – Valorum Jul 31 '16 at 19:14
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    That's got to be it. Possibly confused with the story collection "Psi-High", also by Alan E. Nourse. – ImaginaryEvents Jul 31 '16 at 19:32
  • @Valorum: From the little bit of online research I've been able to do, that seems to be the book. The original publication date (1951) seems right . . . and how many books mention blocks of tungsten! Next stop: the online used book shop. You've found something I've spent close to 20 yeas looking for. I'm curious if you read and remember the book, or if you ran a very clever online search? Either way, thank you! – Randall Stewart Jul 31 '16 at 19:33
  • @RandallStewart - Nope, pure google-fu on this one. A quick search for ("Science fiction" AND "time travel" AND "block of Tungsten") – Valorum Jul 31 '16 at 19:49
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    "Psi Phi"? Nowadays we usually spell if "Sci Fi". – user14111 Jul 31 '16 at 21:22

This is The Universe Between by Alan Nourse.

This excerpt mentions dimensional travel and a "block of Tungsten".

"Fine. Things were going along very well until one of my men devised a radically new refrigerating pump that worked far better than anybody dreamed it could. We got our test material—a block of tungsten supported on an insulated tripod in the refrigerating vault—down closer to absolute zero than we'd ever hoped for. Maybe we hit absolute and dropped below it…I don't even know that for sure."

The phychologist blinked. "I don't follow. From absolute zero, just where can the temperature drop to?"

"A good question," McEvoy said. "I can't answer it. Below absolute zero you might speculate on some kind of negative molecular motion. Maybe that's what we did get. Certainly something changed. The test block simply evaporated. Vanished. The tripod vanished, and so did the temperature-recording device. All we could see in the vault was a small, glowing hole in the center of the room where the block had been. Nothing in it, nothing. Just a pale, blue, glowing area about six inches across that looked to some of us very strangely like a hypercube."

This novel is an 'extension' of a short story (of the same name) along with another short story called High Threshold.

It's certainly possible that you're confusing it with a collection of Nourse's works called Psi-High and Others

  • Thanks for the info, along with the reference to the short story of the same name. I found a fairly long except on google books. The chapter mentioned electrical cardiac stimulation, tungsten, and absolute zero. What's not for a nerdy pre-teen to like! – Randall Stewart Jul 31 '16 at 20:00
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    @RandallStewart You can read the original magazine stories here and here. – user14111 Jul 31 '16 at 20:25

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