In the 1960s I read book--an older children's book, I think--which I loved, and still remember, roughly. I have no idea what the title is or who the author is, and I'm wondering if anyone knows this one:

Scientists had invented a device which they didn't fully understand, and which had puzzling effects. For example, when a pencil was put into the machine, it disappeared, and then reappeared inside out: The lead was on the outside. When people went into the machine, they came back dead, having died from fright. Finally they sent a very open-minded person into the machine. She was an artist, I think. She was able to return alive, and described an alternate universe in which geometry was very different. I distinctly remember that there were supposedly square triangles or four-sided triangles--or was it three-sided squares? (This is, of course, a literally contradictory claim, but I didn't see the matter as clearly then.)


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    I don't know anything about the story itself, but in non-Euclidean geometry it is possible to have a triangle such that each of its three angles are at 90°. Such angles are often called right angles, but are also sometimes called square angles. Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 13:05
  • Thanks Ben. I didn't know that terminology, but do know about non-Euclidean geometry. I doubt the author had anything that sophisticated in mind, given what I recollect.
    – Mars
    Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 20:48

1 Answer 1


This sounds a lot like the novelettes "High Threshold" (published in the March 1951 issue of Astounding) and "The Universe Between" (published in the September 1951 issue of Astounding) by Alan E. Nourse.

These were later combined/expanded into a novel called "The Universe Between" by Alan E. Nourse in 1965.

Here are some additional links I found (1, 2, 3) with different covers and some additional description about the storyline. Perhaps these will help jog a memory.

  • I think that's it! Reading the first description brought tears to my eyes. I'll try to get a copy of the book. Thanks beichst! Thanks Kyle, too. Amazing to that someone was around who could provide an answer so quickly. Wonderful. I'd been wondering about the title for decades. Years ago (pre-Internet) I even asked a friend who was a children's science fiction book editor and author, and she couldn't figure it out.
    – Mars
    Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 20:57
  • @Mars. A.E. Nourse was one of my favorite young adult science fiction authors growing up. I spent many happy hours with his works. I am glad to be able to help someone else re-discover and enjoy him as well.
    – beichst
    Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 22:18
  • These were surely not children's books, but they match the question very well. I must have read the combined novel half a dozen times in the 1970s (age 10-20).
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 17:03

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