# Math Goes to the Movies

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

#### Cover

#### Title Page, Copyright

#### Contents

#### Preface

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pp. xi-xiv

About ten years ago, on a whim, we began to collect movies containing mathematics. Now, as a consequence of that whim, we own a library of more than 800 movies on DVD, VHS, 16 mm, Laserdisc, and some strange thing called . . .

#### Chapter 1 Good Math Hunting

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pp. 3-19

Will Hunting, played by Matt Damon, is a mathematical wunderkind. Will has no formal mathematical education, and when we first encounter him as a twenty-year-old in Good Will Hunting (1997), he is working as a janitor . . .

#### Chapter 2 The Clever Hand Behind A Beautiful Mind

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pp. 21-39

*A Beautiful Mind *(2001) tells the story of John Nash, mathematical genius
and winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize for economics, and his struggle with
schizophrenia. The movie is very unusual in that the main character is a . . .

#### Chapter 3 Escalante Stands and Delivers

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pp. 41-52

This is one of our favorites. *Stand and Deliver* (1988) is the story of Jaime
Escalante, a mathematics teacher from Bolivia who comes to Garfield High,
a poor and poorly run school in the Latino area of East Los Angeles. He is . . .

#### Chapter 4 The Annotated Pi Files

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pp. 53-70

Darren Aronosky’s π (1998) is an excellent, dark movie. Featuring a clever script, very good acting, and plenty of beautiful mathematics, this is a mustsee cult movie, and a great source for mathematical . . .

#### Chapter 5 Nitpicking in Mathmagic Land

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pp. 71-84

In *Donald in Mathmagic Land* (1959), we accompany Donald Duck (played
by himself) as the True Spirit of Adventure introduces him to the wonders of
mathematics. This gem of a movie is to mathematics what . . .

#### Chapter 6 Escape from the Cube

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pp. 85-96

The mathematics behind the Cube really works. In fact, the Cube was designed
by David W. Pravica, a professor of mathematics at East Carolina
University.^{1} Pravica was also consulted during the making of the movie, . . .

#### Chapter 7 The Incredible Shrinking Room

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pp. 97-102

*Fermat’s Room (La Habitaci´on de Fermat)* (2007) is a Spanish movie reminiscent
of *Cube* (1997). Four “mathematicians,” strangers to each other, are
invited to a party by a mysterious host who calls himself Fermat. . . .

#### Chapter 8 Murder in the Hot House

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pp. 103-108

In “Hot House” (2010), two mathematicians are murdered. The first, Christopher Bolingbroke, is a former professor of pure mathematics at the University of Melbourne. He is now spending his time coaching brilliant math students, . . .

#### Chapter 9 A Word Problem for Die Hards

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pp. 109-114

In *Die Hard: With a Vengeance* (1995), John (Bruce Willis) and Zeus (Samuel
L. Jackson) have been set a little problem by the villain, Simon . . .

#### Chapter 10 7 × 13 = 28

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pp. 115-120

A number of Abbott and Costello’s memorable routines have a mathematical
flavor. The clear standout is the donut scene in *In the Navy* (1941).^{1} Lou
Costello plays Pomeroy, a baker, and Bud Abbott is his . . .

#### Chapter 11 One Mirror Has Two Faces, Two Mirrors Have . . .

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pp. 121-131

*The Mirror Has Two Faces* (1996) is an unusual story for Hollywood: boy
meets girl, boy and girl have trouble, and eventually both live happily ever . . .

#### Chapter 12 It’s My Turn for Some Serious Mathematics

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pp. 133-140

To our knowledge, *It’s My Turn* (1980) is the only movie with a scene dedicated
to the detailed proof of a mathematical theorem.1 It is astonishing to
have such a scene begin a Hollywood movie. Perhaps even more . . .

#### Chapter 13 Beautiful Math, or Better Off Dead

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pp. 143-150

There are two kinds of people: those who think that math is beautiful; and those who think that those who think that math is beautiful are crazy. On occasion, one of the former meets one of the latter, and chances are . . .

#### Chapter 14 Pythagoras and Fermat at the Movies

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pp. 151-160

*Pythagoras’s theorem* and *Fermat’s last theorem* are two of the superstars
of mathematics. In this chapter we’ll see what the movies can, and cannot,
teach us about these . . .

#### Chapter 15 Survival in the Fourth Dimension

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pp. 161-176

In *The Simpsons* episode “Homer^{3},” Homer is seeking to hide from Marge’s
sisters and discovers a portal to the third dimension. Rather than face the
sisters, he takes his chances in the mystery world, and gets . . .

#### Chapter 16 To Infinity, and Beyond!

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pp. 177-190

So exclaims Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story movies. However, Buzz is referring to his willingness to travel to the ends of the Universe in order to save his pal Woody. He is unlikely to be as gung ho in the realm of . . .

#### Chapter 17 Problem Corner

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pp. 191-198

Thérèse is a mathematical prodigy in Antonia’s Line (1985). We see her as a young girl, her precociousness on . . .

#### Chapter 18 Money-Back Bloopers

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pp. 199-208

It’s pretty hard for a movie with math to totally avoid bloopers. However, some are simply unforgivable, or are forgivable and just really, really funny. In this chapter, we’ve collected some of . . .

#### Chapter 19 The Funny Files

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pp. 209-228

The previous chapter was dedicated to listing the funniest mathematical bloopers. Here, we list the funniest math scenes that are . . .

#### Part III Lists

#### Chapter 20 People Lists

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pp. 231-250

For this chapter, we have compiled a number of annotated lists of mathematical . . .

#### Chapter 21 Topics Lists

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pp. 251-280

#### Movie Index

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pp. 281-286

E-ISBN-13: 9781421406084

E-ISBN-10: 142140608X

Print-ISBN-13: 9781421404837

Print-ISBN-10: 1421404834

Page Count: 352

Illustrations: 97 halftones, 58 line drawings

Publication Year: 2012