[FOM] f.o.m. documentary 2

Harvey Friedman friedman at math.ohio-state.edu
Sun Feb 19 11:36:37 EST 2012

I looked at these two BBC offerings. What I have in mind is quite  
different in many respects.

1. These BBC offerings concentrate on the personalities of key  
figures, with lots of generally interesting human interest material -  
a lot of concentration on struggle and insanity. Also heavy  
concentration on physics. What math there is, is either very old  
(Cantor's diagonal proof for R versus Z+, superficial encapsulations  
of Goedel's first incompleteness theorem, etc.), or is not even  
remotely explained (Graham's number, infinities are beautiful, etc.).

2. Obviously these videos have high production value, and are quite  

3. What I intend is quite different, with vastly greater content that  
is both completely intellectually honest, and generally  
understandable. In this particular five part documentary, I intend to  
adhere strictly to what flows entirely naturally out of the base  

4. The delicate balance between intellectual honesty, high content,  
general understandability, and great general intellectual interest  
must be - and can be - found. That is the creative challenge.

5. If the documentary is controlled by Institutions, such as learned  
societies, or broadcasting companies, or the like, then they are  
looking for "balance" as perceived by nonexperts. So who is going to  
do the really hard creative intellectual work needed to strike that  
balance in 4 above?

Harvey Friedman

On Feb 17, 2012, at 2:12 AM, Adam Lesnikowski wrote:

Great idea for a f.o.m. documentary, I would be excited to see it once  
it's finished!

Regarding f.o.m.-related general audience documentaries and to get a  
sense of what's been done, I would recommend these two recent ones  
from the bbc. The first's on infinity, and the second's on cantor/ 

"To infinity and beyond":  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNJgXbAFmmQ

"Dangerous knowledge": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVWbWSkh6lI&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL9D37605FD02395F0

Best wishes,

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