9
Jun 09

Hilbert’s Space

Do You See + FT15 comments • 1,017 views

“If you don’t know what a prime number is, you should leave now” – it says at the start of Fermat’s Room, Spanish maths-me-up-thriller. Which is true, as prime numbers are the most complex idea you need to know to understand any of Fermat’s Room – the other ideas being pretty kindergarten level. I guess realising that being a mathematician is no bar to being batshit, and coming up with ridiculous murder plans. Or at least stealing a plot from Agatha Christie’s “Ten Little {insert offensive epithet here}”. Indeed the maths is a bit of a let down. The plot is simple. Four people in a room, they have to solve maths puzzles sent to them by PDA within a minute or else the walls start moving in to crush them. Nevermind the engineering involved to do this seems to completely forget that if you push four walls at the same time, the walls will break, it also forgets that mathematicians are actually supposed to be good at maths.

But this is a film where a bloke thinks he’ll impress his girlfriend by solving the Goldbach Conjecture (namely that all even numbers are the sum of two primes). Anyway, spoilers follow…

All the characters are named after mathematicians, hence the films title. Fermat is supposedly throwing this shin-dig. Its one of those maths parties where you are
a) only invited if you solve a really easy, not strictly maths problem*
b) not offered anything but intellectual fun
c) you have to not tell anyone you are going and not bring a mobile phone to.
IF YOU ARE EVER INVITED TO A PARTY BY A STRANGER WHO INSISTS ON YOU NOT TELLING ANYONE AND NOT BRINGING YOUR MOBILE PHONE, THE INTENTION WILL BE MORE MURDEROUS THAN FUN. Anyway they end up at “Fermat’s Party”, in Fermat’s Room.

The big spoiler is that the film title is a lie, the room does not belong to Fermat, but instead the character calling himself Hilbert. Which makes it a Hilbert Space, a very important piece of mathematics (basically Hilbert space extends the notion of Euclidean space into infinite dimensions -thus making sense of multi-dimensional polynomials and differential equations). Which in some ways is ironic for the film, because multi-dimensional is the one thing this potboiler ISN’T. It is a classic puzzle murder, where the audience are given just enough information to solve it, much like the simple puzzles sent to the mathmo’s which are actually logic problems, and ones you would find in chapter one of any book by Martin Gardner / any book with Mathemagical in the title. But the characters have no depth and the motivation is restricted to the kind of paragraph you might get at a murder mystery dinner party (shudder).

All said, Fermat’s Room is fun because this kind of basic mystery film is rarely attempted anymore, possibly due to the shifting vagaries of fashion which are interested in characterisation and depth.

*Here is the puzzle:

What number comes next in this sequence:

8, 5, 4, 9, 1, 7, 6, …**

**Once solved in the comments I will give this more colour.

Comments

  1. 1
    marna on 9 Jun 2009 #

    3, also *sigh*

    (do i get a prize do i do i do i do i do i?)

  2. 2
    Pete Baran on 9 Jun 2009 #

    Well you get the prize of explaining why this isn’t actually the “fiendishly hard” puzzle in the movie.

    I could probably get you some cheese.

  3. 3
    Alan on 9 Jun 2009 #

    all the characters are named after mathematicians, eh? Are there any Tits in it?

  4. 4

    Does anyone hoover up Cantor’s Dust?

  5. 5
    Pete Baran on 9 Jun 2009 #

    If Fermat’s Room had been in Cantor’s Hotel that would have been more impressive.

  6. 6

    “I’m a bit late for check-in — I was stuck in Goldbach’s Congestion”

  7. 7
    Pete Baran on 9 Jun 2009 #

    It was caused by a South American farmer who thought he had lost some of his Lemma’s, but then that Godel’s Incompleteness Farm for you.

  8. 8
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 9 Jun 2009 #

    Maybe by mistake they got put in Russell’s carrot-box?

  9. 9
    angela r on 30 Nov 2010 #

    This is the greatest movie i have ever seen in my entire life. The actors are beautiful and i love it. Good job Fermat.

  10. 10
    Fermat on 30 Nov 2010 #

    I watched this movie in Spanish class and I fell in love. This movie is fan freaking tastic. There is just SO much suspense I just can’t get enough. I know what i’m asking Santa for Christmas….the perfect holiday gift!……………..FERMAT!

  11. 11
    Fermat on 30 Nov 2010 #

    Angela, I couldn’t agree with you more……FERMAT!

  12. 12
    bruce on 30 Nov 2010 #

    Fermat, I couldnt agree with you more. Amen sista

  13. 13
    Fermat on 30 Nov 2010 #

    I’M WATCHING IT RIGHT NOW….FERMAT!

  14. 14
    faishal on 30 Sep 2012 #

    the answer is 2 right? FERMAT!

  15. 15
    speedwell54 on 30 Sep 2012 #

    10.

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