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Math Mistakes In Movies: The Math Errors That Pop Up On Film

By Edited Sep 7, 2015 0 0

Math Mistakes In Movies and TV

As a mathematician, people often ask me if there is validity in the math statements that appear in major films and television.  I typically observe that things are oversimplified, but I don't particularly noticed errors that stand out.  So, I thought to myself, why not go and take a look at various films to see if there truly are math errors in the jargon most of us don't even understand.  I was surprised to learn that there are quite a examples with math errors lurking at every corner!  Here are just a couple of funny examples:

Pi:  A psychological surrealist thriller that depicts the psychology demise of an obsessive personality.  Pi suffers from quite a few mathematical errors, but the first one is quite blatant, right in the opening shots of the movie:  the claimed 10th digit of pi is incorrectly stated!  In fact this is quite a subtle error to notice.

FOX News:  I suppose I'm letting out some of my political interests here, but a poll was taken among Republican backers in 2012.  It said that 70% back Palin, 63% back Huckabee, and 60% back Romney in a pie chart.  These numbers can in fact be correct, in that some people may back several candidates, but the key here is that they still fit this in a pie chart with non-overlapping pieces, which frankly makes no sense.

The Wizard of Oz:  Here, they mistakenly state that the Pythagorean Theorem holds for all isosceles triangles, not right angled triangles.  It is a debate as to whether or not this was intentional.  I certainly hope this was intentional, because the statement is absolutely ridiculous.

CTV News:  Here, they claimed that 500 square miles was 800 square kilometers, when in fact 500 miles is 800 kilometers (roughly).  They neglected to correctly take dimensions into consideration.  For those of you who don't know what I mean, consider the fact that the area of a 10 mile by 10 mile piece of land is 100 square miles.  This is 16 kilometers by 16 kilometers, and hence 256 square kilometers, not 160.

There are many funny stories just like this.  Watch a movie or television show and see if you can find one!

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