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Mathematics Goes to the Movies

by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross


2010 (1984)

A little device is installed on the spaceship discovery to be able to shut down Hal the computer in case of a malfunction. The device would be triggered via a customized little red calculator: type nine nines take the square root and press the integer.

The dimensions of the monolith are 1:4:9 = 1:2^2:3^2
It’s the proportions: 1 by 4 by 9 they are perfect even when carried for six decimal places The small one on the moon, we encountered exactly the same proportions. 1:4:9 the squares of 1, 2, 3. We spent years trying to attach some cosmic significance to that, it came up with nothing.