La habitación de Fermat

Recently, we saw a somewhat crazy Spanish movie, "La habitación de Fermat". In the story, a couple of mathematicians and an inventor are invited to a mystery play on the basis of their capacity to solve puzzles. In the end they are locked up in a room that becomes smaller each time a puzzle is not solved in time. As a result, they threaten to become crushed and need to mobilize all their considerable brainpower to survive. I will not reveal who did it but the motivation is interesting. It has everything to do with the extreme competition in some fields of science. It all revolves around the solution to  Goldbach’s Conjecture. A young mathematician claims that he has discovered the proof and one of the older guys, who has been working on this problem for over thirty years, feels very threatened. This is exacerbated by the arrogance of the upstart and the brazenness with which he is giving interviews.The movie is full of dialogues that dwell on how it is to live in researc. In the closing part of the movie the group is boating back home. One of the mathematicians has gotten hold of the proof, not written by himself, and agonizes over whether he should publish it as his own or not. One of the others solves the problem by throwing the proof in the river. "What?", the guy shouts, this is a world disaster!" His companion rows on, looks around himself, and points to the fact that nothings seem to have changed. We see the proof drifting away, and the world is oblivious.


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