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Mathematics Goes to the Movies

by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross


Teresa's Tattoo (1994)

Teresa (Adrienne Shelley) is a PhD student in mathematics. She is attending a faculty party, where Rick (Jonathan Silverman) is flirting with her.
RICK: You know, Bruno tells me that you’re in the Physics Department?
RICK: Math Department.
TERESA; See ya.
RICK: Bye.

Teresa is trying to get to know her new relatives. She is on the couch talking with half brother Frank (Sean Astin).
TERESA: Actually, I’m an applied mathematician. My work involves creating mathematical models to … ah … hypothesise the rates at which reinforced concrete will corrode. Cut to Teresa on the same couch sitting with her stepfather Jack (Loring pickering)
JACK: Oh Honey, I sure do wish you were gonna come to that stock car extravaganza with us this week-end. Cut back to being on the couch with Frank.
TERESA: I do math. Uh. What do you do?
FRANK: Cop. You know you should talk to Nora, my sister. She’s the math wiz in the family. Yep, numbers. She gets ‘em. Cut to Teresa on the couch with Nora (Mary Kay Place).
NORA: Of course the only trouble that we’ve had at all is when we switched over from the manual cash registers to the standards, which nobody anticipated that, but you know, now of there’s nothing, there’s no price at all, on any of the merchandise, and sometimes the scanner just doesn’t work at all.

Teresa is talking with her friend Sara (Nancy McKeon).
TERESA: Sara, I will never be able to repay you for saving me from the hell of a stock car race week-end with those …
SARA: Come on. They look like a lot a fun to me. But then again I don’t go all gooey thinking about long division, or whatever it is that you do.

Teresa has been drugged.
TERESA: X … equals … negative B … plus or minus the square root of …

Teresa is telling her story of having been kidnapped to Officer Higgins (Diedrich Bader).
HIGGINS: We couldn’t verify the information that you gave us.
TERESA: I told you. My family is at the stock car races this week-end.
HIGGINS: Your family’s at the races.
HIGGINS: And the Math Department at the University is closed for spring break.

REMARK: Math departments are never closed for spring break.

Teresa is waiting on a bench in the police station, talking to a tough-looking woman, who is paying no attention.
TERESA: I’m a … a theoretical mathematician. My work involves creating various models with which to … forget it. Yes, fuck it.