Measuring the world (2012)
The movie ``Measuring the world" (Vermessung der Welt) is a film adaptation of the book
book of Daniel Kehlmann
which was the worlds second best selling book in 2006. It tells the story of Alexander
von Humbold and Karl Friedrich Gauss. Here are four clips covering four different parts
of mathematics: algebra (sum of arithmetic series), geometry (triangulation),
number theory (Gaussian integers), Galois theory (17 gon construction): the movie
is in German. The film is absolutely fantastic. The book had got a lot of praise, I actually like the movie
more (as I personally always have reservations with stories in which time-lines are scrambled.)
The film of course would not have been possible without the book but it is nicely organized, tells the two stories
(Gauss and von Humbold) in parallel and is beautifully painted and originally presented (sometimes with
rather strong pictures, much stronger than in the book: there is a scene for example where the dentist
pulls a tooth of Gauss and first the wrong one (in the book, Gauss only contemplates the possibility of a dentist
pulling the wrong tooth), there are rather strong love scenes also, which would never appear in an US version.
Here is the translation of the first clip:
Buettner: 1 plus 2, plus 3, plus 4 plus 5 plus... 6... plus 7, and continue in the same manner,
until 100. And that nobody disturbs me until you have the solution.
Gauss gives up? Kid: he will get punished! Buettner: Where do you have this from?
Gauss: this was not the issue, we were required to add up all the numbers from 1 to 100.
1 and 100 gives 101, 2 and 99 gives 101, 3 and 98 gives 101.
Always 101. One can do this 50 times. And 50 times 101 is 5050.
Buettner: Gauss: in the corner! Shut up and stay sitting afterwards.
Buettner: God sees everything. You know that. Gauss: yes.
Buettner: come here. Your word of honor: did you do this yourself?
Gauss: that was not difficult. One has only to ....
Buettner: The summation formula of the geometric progression. Higher arithmetic.
Take it with you. Read it.
Narrator: The teacher Buettner, who would have guessed, was a kind of mathematician.
He had published papers and one glorious day even got a reply of Immanuel Kant.
But because his hard work and power was not sufficient, he became a school teacher.
Gauss: My father can not pay this.
Buettner: you will in the coming time take home many books, and not pay.
But be careful. One stain, one dog ear or a ripped page, and you will feel the stick
so that God will have mercy with you. Go now.
And here is the translation of the last clip:
Gauss: I will study, Papa! Buettner: not on the head!
It belongs now to the Herzog of Braunschweig. And you are not
allowed to damage it. Gauss's Father: Dammit, this country goes down the drains.
With us, the little people they do what they want. They take your son away
and give him a stipend. Mother: Now, you will be a studied person, Carl!
And now you will leave us. Gauss: Never. Mother: You will see.
Gauss: I will always stay with you. Always in this house! Mother: Really?
Gauss: Always. Mutter: Good, go upstairs.
Mother to Buettner: Herr Buettner, something in private.
Buettner: Yes, what is it?
Mother: Albrecht, please leave us for a moment.
To Buettner: That with Carl and the math, the mathematics.
Ahh, will this lead to something? Buettner: what do you mean?
Mother: I mean, the university, he must be intelligent to go there.
Is this enough for Carl? (Buettner can not avoid laughing.)
Mother: Mr Buettner, that is not nice from you that you laugh about me.
I'm a simple women and I worry.
That is not nice of you. Buettner: No, excuse me. Sorry, Mrs Gauss
But your son will be one of the best mathematicians in the world.
I know that. I know that.
A couple of years ago, this movie had been suggested to me by Li Zhou (Polk State College, FL). I only could
get hold of it recently. li wrote: "Measuring the World is a German movie, half of which depicts the life of Gauss. So it's full of math:
1+2+...+100, regular 17-gon, spherical triangle, quadratic reciprocity, fundamental theorem of algebra."
Oliver Knill, Posted Sep 27, 2020,