It was either written by ACC or based on his works. It is set in the early 21st century and was likely written in the eighties or early nineties.

I think it was about raising the Titanic but I may be mixing it up with another

There is a child prodigy... Mathematician? It's a girl. The number 1.999 with a repeated faction bar over it is in the story.

There is a discussion about how windshield wipers are obsolete because now they just vibrate the glass. The discussion is fairly long about the technical challenges of that.


2 Answers 2


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had indeed beaten a path to his door; within a few years, almost all the world's millions of metronoming blades had been replaced by the Sonic Wave Windshield Wiper.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.

  • It certainly has the Titanic and that might be the book, but I will wait for more details Sep 8, 2020 at 1:01
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    1.999 is in Chapter 18. It's related to the Mandelbrot set that is a theme of the book. I didn't see the windshield but I was skimming quickly. Does have the math prodigy girl. Signs point to 'yes'. Sep 8, 2020 at 2:15
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    Fun fact: "minus 1.9999... forever and ever" is minus two. (Hint: 10x - x = 9x = ?) Sep 8, 2020 at 11:34
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    It was without question Ghost of the Grand Banks. There was a bit in there where Emerson is being driven somewhere and has a conversation with his driver, and the driver mentions never having to clean the windshield since the introduction of the Sonic Wave, and Emerson realizes the technology is unintentionally also keeping the windows clean. Then he looks out at all the glass-clad buildings he's going by and the book commented he then proceeded to make his next fortune. Sep 8, 2020 at 21:02
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    @AngewisnolongerproudofSO Yes, R has some weird elements that have multiple names. I don't get the hint though. You have to show there is no number between 1.9.. and 2.0 Sep 8, 2020 at 21:48

It was a component of a surface vehicle on Titan, in Clarke's "Imperial Earth" (1975). The description was limited to a sentence or two, but it specifically mentioned standing waves in the accumulating mush before it was whipped off by a combination of the vibrations and the vehicle's movement.

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