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Berkeley Math Prof Edward Frenkel Branches Out Into Erotic Film

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University of California-Berkeley Professor Edward Frenkel is world-renowned for his work with automorphic representations and the geometric Langlands conjecture.

He's also a trailblazer in a different arena: erotic film.

Frankel, 41, invested €100,000 to produce and star in "Rites of Love and Math," a "sprawling allegory" during which the mathematician has sex on screen.

From a New Scientist review of the film:

Set in the Japanese Noh theatre, like [Yukio] Mishima's film ["The Rite of Love and Death"], "Rites" is silent except for extracts from Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde and some electric guitar. It is beautiful to look at, even if the story does owe more to Dan Brown than to Mishima.

If Frenkel's goal was to bring more people to maths, he can congratulate himself on a job well done. The formula of love, which is actually a simplified version of an equation he published in a 2006 paper on quantum field theory entitled "Instantons beyond topological theory I", will probably soon have been seen -- if not understood -- by a far larger audience than it would otherwise ever have reached.

Frenkel told Italian website Oggi Scienza that the film's challenge was finding a way to "unite the beautiful body and mathematics," and the "beauty of a woman's body" served as a metaphor for the task. He also has said that he wanted to dispel the common conception of mathematicians as depicted in films like "A Beautiful Mind."

The film premiered in Paris in April. No word on if or when there will be an American showing.

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