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La fiamma sul ghiaccio (The Flame on the Ice) (2006)
Umberto Marino (director)

An Italian movie about a mathematician with Asperger's syndrome.

Contributed by Sandro Caparrini

The role of the protagonist is played by Raoul Bova. According to Bova, It's the story of a young mathematics professor afflicted with Asperger's syndrome, a disease that keeps him from feeling any sort of emotion. In some respects, it's a condition like autism. This professor finds himself falling in love with a vagrant woman, played by Donatella Finocchiaro. These two souls encounter one another and together embark on a journey, share certain experiences. Since I am now in the USA, I have not yet been able to see it. However, I have been told that the mathematical level is quite poor. It seems to me that, according to film makers, mathematicians are a bunch of crazy people. Just look at every recent movie on the subject! The good news is that mathematicians are usually played by very handsome actors (for example, Bova and Russell Crowe) or beautiful actresses (Gwyneth Paltrow).

The title translates as "The Flame on the Ice". Note that mathematicians with autism/Asperger's are very common in mathematical fiction. (Click here to see some other examples.) I have not heard any reliable statistics on this at all and so do not know whether there is any actual link between autism and mathematics. Of course, there are some examples of people who are autistic and have mathematical skills, and there are examples of mathematicians with Asperger's. This shows that it is possible for the two traits to coincide. However, the question of whether mathematicians are more likely to exhibit autistic tendencies than the general population (and similarly whether autistic people are more likely to have mathematical abilities than the general population) is a different question. If anyone knows of evidence of a link (outside of fiction), please let me know!

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to La fiamma sul ghiaccio (The Flame on the Ice)
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Mozart and the Whale by Petter Næss (Director)
  2. The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti
  3. Morte di un matematico napoletano by Mario Martone (director)
  4. Racconti Matematici by Claudio Bartocci (Editor)
  5. Proof by David Auburn (playwright)
  6. Bonita Avenue by Peter Buwalda
  7. Ultima lezione a Gottinga [Last lecture at Göttingen] by Davide Osenda
  8. Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne
  9. Rites of Love and Math by Edward Frenkel / Reine Graves
  10. The Estimator (Georges) by Lynn Margulis
Ratings for La fiamma sul ghiaccio (The Flame on the Ice):
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.


MotifAutism, Romance,

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Great News for 1 April 2016: The long awaited cover of the comic book adaptation of The Adventures of Topology Man has been released. See here for details.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)