Web Treasure Tuesday: Math in the movies, TV, and fiction

Previously here at ScienceThrillers, I’ve mentioned LabLit.com, a British site devoted to “the culture of science in fiction and fact.”  They’re famed for their eponymous List, a one-stop shop for books that fit this description:

‘Lab lit’ is not ‘science fiction’; briefly, lab lit fiction depicts realistic scientists as central characters and portrays fairly realistic scientific practice or concepts, typically taking place in a realistic – as opposed to speculative or future – world. The action does not have to take place in a laboratory per se, just anywhere where scientists are doing what they do, such as a field station. Although some science fiction does indeed have elements of ‘lab lit’, and the boundaries can be fuzzy, this list is meant to feature real scientists in the real world. Those that deviate slightly from this definition, or are crossover works, are annotated as such. In the interest of promoting scientists in fiction, this list also includes novels in which the scientist character(s) are not wholly central (‘lab lit lite’).

{My science thriller Petroplague is a new addition to this genre; read LabLit’s review here.}

Even harder to find in fiction, literature, and entertainment is mathematics themes, but it’s out there.  Let me show you where to look.

How about a list of over one thousand short stories, plays, novels, films, and comic books containing math or mathematicians?  The Mathematical Fiction Homepage, compiled by Alex Kasman, has it.

You prefer movies and TV?  Mathematics Goes to the Movies by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross is the website for you.

Which brings me to an interesting bit of trivia.  Rumor has it that a number of advanced mathematicians worked on scripts for the television show The Simpsons.  Apparently the popular animated series is loaded with math references and jokes.  Check out some Simpsons’ Math here.

Then wait patiently until 2012, when a new (as yet un-named) book by popular science writer Simon Singh will be published all about Simpson math and its “cult following among the scientific community.”

If you like math in fiction, you might enjoy The Fractal Murders by Mark Cohen.  ScienceThrillers review here.

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