Cornell mathematician featured in Netflix film

“I find infinity beautiful and thrilling,” says mathematician Steven Strogatz in the trailer for the new Netflix program in which he is featured, “A Trip to Infinity,” being released Sept. 26.

“The main idea of the film involves an exploration of infinity from several perspectives: mathematical, physical, philosophical, theological,” says Strogatz. “I think the big question is whether infinity can exist in the real world. We know it exists in human minds, but is it also out there in reality?”

The filmmakers, Jon Halperin and Mark Mannucci, first met with Strogatz at a little cafe at the Brooks Brothers in Manhattan, soon after the release of Strogatz’s book “Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe.” They continued to consult him throughout the development of the film’s concept, says Strogatz.

“Frequently this would involve doing zoom sessions, brainstorming about what the movie should be about and who should be in it,” Strogatz says. “At some point we started to have three-way discussions with mathematician Moon Duchin of Tufts University and physicist Carlo Rovelli. It was a lot of fun brainstorming with all of them.”

Strogatz also reviewed early drafts of the script and offered feedback.

“Filming took place at Brian Greene‘s studio at his home in upstate New York,” says Strogatz. “Brian is a former physics professor at Cornell, well known for his best-selling book “The Elegant Universe,” which he wrote at Cornell.”

 Strogatz, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow, has broad interests in applied mathematics and says he is “passionate about communicating mathematics to the public.” 

He’s been a frequent guest on RadioLab, and wrote a weekly column on mathematics for the New York Times in the spring of 2010 and the fall of 2012. He’s the author of several books for the general public, including “The Joy of x” and “Infinite Powers.”




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Multi-colored ribbons of light form the infinity symbol