Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Brainiacs heat up screen at CineMath," by Tim Gnatek. San Francisco Chronicle, 2 October 2002.

The CineMath film festival at UC Berkeley was part of MSRI's 20th anniversary celebrations. "Noted mathematician and CineMath co-curator Bob Osserman [also special projects director at MSRI] offers an explanation of why math keeps popping up in today's pop culture, whether in plays or movies---and why mathematicians' roles are deepening from science-fiction eccentrics to complex characters addressing universal themes. 'Moviemakers are discovering how creative mathematics is'." He also points out that mathematicians have played an important but quiet role throughout the centuries---engineering the pyramids, calculating calendar systems, for instance---and did not return to favor (or at least to the spotlight) until they were recognized for code-breaking in WWII, providing the foundation for computer systems, and for solving Fermat's Last Theorem. Osserman hopes that people attending the CineMath film festival are surprised and intrigued by the portrayals of mathematicians and mathematics. Some of the films shown during festival include Pi, 'Death of a Neopolitan Mathematician, and "short-subject films that use math principles within their filming techniques: calculated camera angles, balanced musical scores, even the mathematics of topology."

--- Annette Emerson