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Mathematics in Movies and Television Shows

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Mathematics in Movies and Television Shows

Elana Epstein, Ed.D.

St. Joseph’s College

- Using Movies and TV Shows to Motivate a Lesson
- Using Movies and TV Shows as the Lesson
- Using movies and TV Shows to Reinforce an Idea
- Ideas in Other Media

Example 1: The Da Vinci Code

Cryptography and Fibonacci Numbers

Robert Langdon asked by French police to look at crime scene where curator of the Lourve died

There is a secret message written:

13 – 3 – 2 – 21 – 1 – 1 – 8 – 5 O, Draconian devil!Oh, lame saint!

Recognize these numbers?

- Numbers are Fibonacci numbers out of order
13 – 3 – 2 – 21 – 1 – 1 – 8 – 5

1 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 5 – 8 – 13 – 21

- Rearrange words
O, Draconian devil! Oh, lame saint!

Leonardo Da Vinci the Mona Lisa

- Introduction to cryptography
- Introduction to the Fibonacci numbers
- Problem Solving

Example 2: Monk

Probability

Two victims have the same first and last names

How likely is this coincidence?

Lead to discussion of the birthday problem:

How many people are required in order to have a better than even chance that two or more of them have the same birthday?

Or to The Monty Hall problem:

On a game show there are three doors

Behind one is a car, the others have goats

You pick a door and the host, who know what's behind the doors, opens another door which has a goat

Should you switch?

Example 3: Castaway

Area of Circle

Chuck tries to figure out how many miles people would have to search to rescue him

Search Area

- Have students figure out what formula he used to find the area and then go through the usual area problems
- Motivation to find out what pi is

Example 4: Futurama

Number Theory

A number was needed for scene in Futurama

Writers chose 1729:

13+123 = 1+1728

93+103 = 729+1000

Weisstein, Eric W. “1729." From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource. http://mathworld.wolfram.com/1729.html

- Have students try to come up with these kind of numbers
- As extra credit have students watch episodes and look for these numbers

Example 5: Death and the Compass

Problem Solving

Based on the short story

by Jorge Luis Borges

Three murders occur in equilateral triangle

Inspector predicts fourth to form a rhombus

The police squad in Upstate New York is stumped, so you are called in as a math special agent. So far there have been two murders, and the killer left notes at each location implying there will be a third and final murder. Your job is to figure out where the crime will occur so the police can get to the scene and stop it from happening. This is a map of the first two crimes.

At the first crime the following clue was found:

Unlike its salmon

When I cross and climb Bear Mountain

My bridges will be burned

For I will not return.

There will be three dead by the 3rd night.

Say what you will, I am always RIGHT.

And on the second night this clue was found:

The north better be armed

For the third time won’t be a charm.

My crime spree will be terminated

Thirty degrees northwest of where I originated.

Can you help the police figure out where the third crime will be?

Example 6: Matilda

Mental Math

- Matilda can add and multiply numbers in her head really fast
- Have students think about how she was able to do this
- Teach tricks such as:
To find 1784 x 11

First do 1784 x 10 = 17840

Then sum 17840 + 1784 = 19624

Example 1: Die Hard: With A Vengeance

Problem Solving

Main characters go on a hunt to capture a criminal and have to solve riddles

As I was going to St Ives

I met a man with seven wives

And every wife had seven sacks

And every sack had seven cats

And every cat had seven kits

Kits, cats, sacks, wives

How many were going to St Ives?

Here’s another riddle:

Given 5 gallon and 3 gallon jugs make exactly 4 gallons of water

Example 1: The Da Vinci Code

Probability

Sophie describes how many combinations are on a cryptex

- Have them do calculations to show how she got this answer:
26x26x26x26x26 = 11,881,376

Then give similar problems

Example 2: 30 Rock

Transitivity

Tracy discovers Grizz can beat Kenneth at Halo and uses the transitive property

- Numb3rs
http://www.weallusematheveryday.com

- Simpsons Math
http://www.mathsci.appstate.edu/~sjg/simpsonsmath

- Futurama Math
http://www.mathsci.appstate.edu/~sjg/futurama/

- Math in the Movies
http://world.std.com/~reinhold/mathmovies.html

- Math Textbook
http://www.pearsonhighered.com/academic/product/0,3110,0321361466,00.html

Example 1: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Problem Solving

- Harry and Hermione have to solve a riddle involving seven bottles
- The chosen bottle either moves them forward, behind, contains wine, or kills them
- Hermione uses logic to solve the puzzle

Have students work in pairs

Each student draws a picture of the seven

bottles and their partner uses the picture along

with the given clues to solve the riddle

Example 2: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Prime numbers and Problem Solving

- Chapters labeled with prime numbers
- Main character studying for math exam
- What to do when you get lost

Math in literature

- http://jeffcoweb.jeffco.k12.co.us/isu/math/literature/mathlitles.htm
- http://www.mathcats.com/grownupcats/ideabankmathandliterature.html

- U+ Me = Us 2gether
- 4 out of 5 Soul Coughing
- Mathematics Mos Def
- (Lord It's Hard to Be Happy When You're Not) Using the Metric System Atom and His Package

Euclid Alone Has Looked on Beauty Bare

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

Compares mathematical insight to divine revelation

Complete analysis:

http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/604.html

- Visit: faculty.sjcny.edu/~epstein/NCTM
- Email ideas, questions, and comments to: [email protected]