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Infinity (1996)
Patricia Broderick

Contributed by Ken Collins

It's about the early years of Richard Feynman, up to the completion of the Manhattan Project, and the death of his wife.

What I like particularily is a scene in NY's Chinatown where [Feynman] races a herbalist using an abacus to approximate the cube root of 1729.1 (I think). [Feynman] uses a linear approximation, which he explains clearly and properly to his fiance.

This is the only movie of my experience that actually presents the math correctly - well except for "Stand and Deliver". Good Will Hunting, for instance just alludes to "hard" problems - which from the glimpse we are given looked more like the Koenigsberg Bridges problem.

(Although, apparently, among the many things the film "messes up" in its translation of the autobiographical stories as written by Feynman onto the big screen, is this abacus story. In his telling of the story, one of the most interesting things about this "abacus challenge" is that it was initiated by the herbalist, not realizing who Feynman was. In contrast, in the movie the competition is suggested by Feynman, and so seems a bit unsportsmanlike.)

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Works Similar to Infinity
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar / Akiva Goldsman
  2. The French Mathematician by Tom Petsinis
  3. Beyond the Limit: The Dream of Sofya Kovalevskaya by Joan Spicci
  4. Universe of Two by Stephen P. Kiernan
  5. Breaking the Code by Hugh Whitemore (playwright)
  6. The World as I Found It by Bruce Duffy
  7. A Hill on the Dark Side of the Moon by Lennart Hjulström
  8. Sekret Enigmy by Roman Wionczek
  9. The First Circle by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
  10. Dirac by Dietmar Dath
Ratings for Infinity:
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.
Mathematical Content:
1/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
1/5 (1 votes)

GenreHistorical Fiction,
MotifAcademia, Real Mathematicians,
TopicReal Mathematics,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)