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Mathematics Goes to the Movies

by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross


Brain Dead (1987)

Dr. Halsey (Bud Cort), is a patient in an asylum, a mathematician who knew a formula of interest to the Eunice corporation. Dr. Rex Martin (Bill Pullman), a neurologist, is visiting him.
MARTIN: Mr. Halsey. Have you ever heard of Eunice Corportation?
HALSEY: Eunice? That’s my wife’s name.
MARTIN: No, this is a corporation. Maybe you did some mathematical work for them, or something.
HALSEY: I work with numbers, sure, but I work for Cochrane. Cochrane Mattresses. I’m an accountant. Neat little rows and columns. No equations, equations are too messy. You get a few numbers left over and … BOOM. End of the world as we know it. No. I stick to accounts. It’s safer.

The logo of Eunice Cooperation appears: a Möbius strip.

Halsey is being questioned while Martin manipulates his brain.
MARTIN: By the way, Mr. Halsey, what do you do for a living?
HALSEY: I’m a mathematician.

Dr. Martin goes to his office, and finds a blackboard filled with mathematics, with “BOOM” replacing the right hand side of the equation. The mathematics is largely unreadable, though there are references to Lorentz groups, and what appear to be probabilistic integrals.

Dr. Martin is being questioned by Jim Reston (Bill Paxton) while his brain is being manipulated.
JIM: We want the right side of the equation. You erased it. Don’t you remember?
JIM: Well you did. It was on a Monday, the last day you came to work. You’d had a tough week-end. Hard work, killing and dismembering your family. I mean, that’s real aerobic exercise. Something to get the heart pounding. Ring any bells? It was three little numbers! What were they!