The Ghost from the Grand Banks is a 1990 science fiction novel by British writer Arthur C. Clarke.
The story deals with two groups, both of whom are attempting to raise one of the halves of the wreck of Titanic from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean in time for the sinking's centennial in 2012.
The mathematician is Ada Craig, and the part with the mention of 1.999 is:
'That number 1.999 painted on the boathouse,' he said. 'I suppose that's a reference to your mother's famous end-of-century program.'
Donald Craig chuckled. 'Nice try, Jason; that's what most people guess. Let him have it gently, Ada.'
The formidable Ms. Craig deposited her puppy on the grass, and it scuttled away to investigate the base of the nearest cypress. Bradley had the uncomfortable impression that Ada was trying to calibrate his I.Q. before she replied.
'If you look carefully, Mr. Bradley, you'll see there's a minus sign in front of the number, and a dot over the last nine.'
'So it's really minus 1.9999... forever and ever.'
The windshield wiper was invented by Roy Emerson:
Roy Emerson considered himself, accurately enough, to be reasonably good-natured, but there was one thing that could make him really angry. It had happened on what he swore would be his last TV appearance, when the interviewer on a Late, Late Show had asked, with malice aforethought: 'Surely, the principle of the Wave Wiper is very straightforward. Why didn't someone invent it earlier?' The host's tone of voice made his real meaning perfectly clear: 'Of course I could have thought of it myself, if I hadn't more important things to do.'
No American interviewer, of course, missed the opportunity of complimenting Roy on inventing the apocryphal Better Mousetrap. The automobile industry had indeed beaten a path to his door; within a few years, almost all the world's millions of
metronoming blades had been replaced by the Sonic Wave Windshield Wiper. Even more important, thousands of accidents had been averted, with the improvement of visibility in bad-weather driving.