Searching for the Formula of Love

Edward Frenkel, who is one of the leading mathematical physicists in the world, makes math look sexy. 

"In popular films, mathematicians are usually portrayed as weirdos and social misfits on the verge of mental illness, reinforcing the stereotype of mathematics as a boring and cold subject, far removed from reality."


So writes the Berkeley mathematician Edward Frenkel in his new book, Love and Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality

And yet, contrary to this stereotype, Frenkel sees mathematical research as a great love story. In fact, Frenkel, who is one of the leading mathematical physicists in the world, makes math look sexy. In 2010, Frenkel made a short film called "Rites of Love and Math" with the French filmmaker Reine Graves.

The film features a mathematician tattooing a formula on the body of a woman he loves. "The tattoo scene in the film was meant to represent the passion involved in doing mathematical research," Frenkel writes. "While he is making the tattoo, the Mathematician completely shuts himself off from the world. To him, the formula really becomes a question of life and death."

This is the formula as it appears in the film:

Frenkel says this formula would seem forbidding if he had written it on a blackboard. "But seeing it in the form of a tattoo elicited a totally different reaction," he writes. "It really got under everyone's skin: everyone wanted to know what it meant."

In the video below, Frenkel explains how he set out to present math on a "visceral and emotional, intuitive level," and also entertains the question of whether there is a formula of love. "Actually every formula we discover is a formula of love," Frenkel says. "And that's because these formulas represent something deep and fundamental about the world."

Watch the video here:

Watch the official trailer for "Rites of Love and Math" here

To watch the entire film online or order a DVD, visit http://ritesofloveandmath.com/

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

Afghanistan is the most depressed country on earth

No, depression is not just a type of 'affluenza' – poor people in conflict zones are more likely candidates

Image: Our World in Data / CC BY
Strange Maps
  • Often seen as typical of rich societies, depression is actually more prevalent in poor, conflict-ridden countries
  • More than one in five Afghans is clinically depressed – a sad world record
  • But are North Koreans really the world's 'fourth least depressed' people?
Keep reading Show less

Banned books: 10 of the most-challenged books in America

America isn't immune to attempts to remove books from libraries and schools, here are ten frequent targets and why you ought to go check them out.

Nazis burn books on a huge bonfire of 'anti-German' literature in the Opernplatz, Berlin. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Culture & Religion
  • Even in America, books are frequently challenged and removed from schools and public libraries.
  • Every year, the American Library Association puts on Banned Books Week to draw attention to this fact.
  • Some of the books they include on their list of most frequently challenged are some of the greatest, most beloved, and entertaining books there are.
Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Oumuamua, a quarter-mile long asteroid tumbling through space, is Hawaiian for "scout", or "the first of many".
  • It was given this name because it came from another solar system.
  • Some claimed 'Oumuamua was an alien technology, but there's no actual evidence for that.