## Simpsons Guide to Math 304

tu-tone writes

*"The LA times has done an article titled "Simpsons analysts show how math figures into episodes" based off of work done by two professors Andrew Nestler and Sarah J. Greenwald. The work is a Guide to Appearances of Mathematics and Mathematicians on "The Simpsons" . They even gave a talk on it at Harvey Mudd College. It's a fun read."*There's a transcript of one of their presentations available.
## Math... (Score:4, Funny)

What? 'Math' is a perfectly cromulent word!

## Harvey Mudd??? (Score:2)

## Harcourt Fenton Mudd (Score:2)

I can't

believeI remembered that.## Re:Harvey Mudd??? (Score:2)

## D'OH (Score:4, Funny)

## Euler's Equation (Score:5, Interesting)

## Re:Euler's Equation (Score:5, Interesting)

That's more funny than a stupid "how many gallons in a pound" joke, IMO.

## Re:Euler's Equation (Score:2)

## Re:Euler's Equation (Score:2)

## Re:Euler's Equation (Score:2, Funny)

And, yeah, when you mention stuff like this to people they call you a nerd or geek, so it fits Slashdot...

## Also "proves" one important complexity result (Score:3, Interesting)

I think this basically indicates that the Simpsons writers and animators are just as geeky as the /. readership.

## Re:Also "proves" one important complexity result (Score:2, Interesting)

Not only making fun of how ridiculous people are to do such things, but insinuating a certain stereotype by using the comic book store guy as the geek... They did it again in the episode where Homer gains weight on purpose, the guy at the clothing store says "let me guess... computer programer? Computer operator?

SOMETHINGto do with computers?"## Re:Also "proves" one important complexity result (Score:2)

If you watch that episode carefully you'll notice that the equation P=NP floating around.There was a Futurama on a few weeks ago-- I think it was the one where Fry and Amy hooked up in the closet-- that had two books sitting on a shelf. The titles were "P" and "NP."

## No..No.. [e^(pi * j)] + 1 = 0 (Score:3, Funny)

j)] + 1 = 0.In the words of a former professor:

- "All those math folks out there just don't know that "i" is already in use as a notation for current."

I am sure that moderation of this will be a direct result of the number of EE's with points at the momment. But its "j" damn it! jaaaayyyy!## Re:No..No.. [e^(pi * j)] + 1 = 0 (Score:3, Funny)

Also, isn't current denoted by "I"? It is in physics. Maybe engineers just mess with everyone's notation.

## Re:No..No.. [e^(pi * j)] + 1 = 0 (Score:2)

Heh, look, it's an engineer lecturing about math. Next he'll tell us the exact value of pi.Dummy, everyone knows pi is exactly 3.14 with a

## Re:No..No.. [e^(pi * j)] + 1 = 0 (Score:2)

In computer science, it's (int) 3 / (int) 22.I thought it was $\pi$.

Daniel

## Re:Biblical Pi (Score:5, Interesting)

Actually, according to the bible, the value of pi is 3 exactly. Check out 1 Kings 7:23...What 1 Kings 7:23 says:

"Then he made the molten sea; it was round, ten cubits from brim to brim, and five cubits high, and a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference."

What it doesn't say:

"...a mathematical circle whose diameter is ten point zero zero cubits will have a circumference of thirty point zero zero cubits, thus saith the LORD, and those who tried to think otherwise were smited down by the tyrannical God of the Old Testament...."

1. The passage is describing the construction of a molten freaking sea, it's not a mathematical treatise on the nature of the circle.

2. Not only is this not a mathematical treatise, it's not even an engineering plan or construction document. It's just a loose description. "Thirty cubits" isn't a bad ballpark estimation of 31.4159... cubits when you're just describing the thing in layman's terms, especially when you don't know whether the "ten cubits from brim to brim" is an inside diameter, outside diameter, or center-wall to center-wall diameter.

3. Even if this passage were an engineering plan, no constructed, material "circle" is ever going to have a circumference of exactly pi times its diameter. There will always be a discrepancy by which it will be off, plus or minus, depending on the matter and its application, and the technological ability to fabricate it. The dimensions of a molten sea, for example, can be expected be off by more than, say, dimensinons of optical mirror components.

4. Sheesh. People will say anything.

Belloc

## Re:Biblical Pi (Score:3, Informative)

Anyways, http://www.yfiles.com/pi.html

any try to ignore the religious references.

## Re:Biblical Pi (Score:3, Informative)

What is worth more than mathematical ad-hockery is to note that the Bible is simply incorrect, here, for whatever reason (whether it's because the passage was only intended as a casual, imprecise description, was transcribed wrong, etc. doesn't matter). One is also free to point out that most arguments that use this fact to jump to some sweeping, grand conclusion are quite invalid.

## Re:No..No.. [e^(pi * j)] + 1 = 0 (Score:2)

But its "j" damn it! jaaaayyyy!What, for "

jimaginary"?## Re:Euler's Equation (Score:2, Funny)

Math Profs are #-e^(i*pi)## Re:Euler's Equation (Score:2)

## Re:Euler's Equation (Score:2, Informative)

## Re:Euler's Equation (Score:5, Funny)

In it's traditional form, [e^(pi*i)]+1=0, it relates the 5 most important constants in math......and is beaten only by 0*i*pi*e = 1+-1

## Re:Euler's Equation (Score:3, Funny)

In it's traditional form, [e^(pi*i)]+1=0 it relates the 5 most important constants in math.Ooh! Not only that, but it uses each one exactly once. Also, it uses each of the basic arithmetic operators exactly once: +, *, ^, =.

## Re:Euler's Equation (Score:3, Interesting)

There certainly is a lot of other good math humour in the show, tho'

-me

## D'oh! (Score:2)

## different levels (Score:2)

I remember the same Animaniacs episode I reffered to earlier, where the teacher asks, "Yakko, can you conjugate?" And Wakko replies, "I never even KISSED a girl!" Like he thought she said copulate. Most kids just think he is being silly, they don't get the subtle joke. I have seen this subtlety on the Simpson's, also.

## That article was too long (Score:5, Funny)

[turns on Itchy and Scratchy]

## Re:That article was too long (Score:2)

## Re:That article was too long (Score:2)

My attention span isn't long enough to read the whole article.Perhaps you should investigate Speed Reading [slashdot.org]?

## So I'm sure you've all heard about... (Score:3, Funny)

## Re:So I'm sure you've all heard about... (Score:2)

## ... and physics too ... (Score:5, Funny)

In this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!- Homer Jay Simpson

## Re:... and physics too ... (Score:2)

## No short supply of mathematical references. (Score:3, Interesting)

Several episodes besides those mentioned in the article contain mathematical formulas, etc. In the episode where Jay Sherman (of The Critic fame) comes to Springfield (the episode is entitled "A Star is Burns", #2F31 for anyone who cares), Homer has to decide which short movie made by fellow Springfieldians to vote on. Homer says "I've got some serious thinking to do", and then the camera pans to a shot of his brain, where two monkeys are doing natural logs and derivatives on a chalkboard!! (This of course was also a play on a previous brain-shot where two monkeys were doing nothing but picking fleas from each other)

They even manage to work in some references into those Butterfinger Shorts. My personal favorite was in a commercial for Butterfinger B.B.s, Bart's math book is entitled "Math For Underachievers"! Lisa tries helping him with math by asking "If you have 15 BB's, and I take 5, what do you have left?" Bart aptly replies "One less sister!" and raises a fist into the air. Even their shameless ads make me smile.

## Re:No short supply of mathematical references. (Score:2)

Lisa tries helping him with math by asking "If you have 15 BB's, and I take 5, what do you have left?" Bart aptly replies "One less sister!" and raises a fist into the air.Which in turn is an old joke but one of the best derivatives of this was delivered by Sid Snot (Kenny Everett) when the teach asks if you had 8 lollies and I took half of them what would I have? To which he replies two broken arms, nobody takes half my lollies and gets away with it. Ah the old ones are often the best.

## Calculus (Score:4, Funny)

## On-Line Simpsons Resource, Par Excellence (Score:3, Informative)

## Chemistry too (Score:3, Insightful)

## Re:Chemistry too (Score:2, Flamebait)

Chemistry is a series of lies built upon lies. As you progress in its study, you learn that a lot of the things you learned before are not quite true.

It's a very weird egghead part of inorganic chemistry called "hyper-valent carbon" that I've forgotten all the details of - along with almost everything else I learned about Chemistry in College.

Homer was correct.

David Brown

BS Chemistry, 1987 U.S. Naval Academy

## Re:Chemistry too (Score:2, Insightful)

## Math Humour & Simpsons (Score:2, Funny)

<br>

<br>

Homer: I don't know lisa, what <I>do</I> I get if I cross a pig and a sheep?

<br>

<br>

Lisa: The length of the pig by the length of the sheep by the sin of the angle between them.

<br>

<br>

Homer: Go to your room.

## Re:Math Humour & Simpsons (Score:2, Funny)

Homer: I said you go to your room

Lisa: You can't cross a moutain climber, its a scalar

## Re:Math Humour & Simpsons (Score:2)

Homer: I don't care

Lisa: An Abelian Grape

Homer: Lisa go to your ro... mmmmmmmmmmmmmm grapes.

## Re:Math Humour & Simpsons (Score:2)

Whats yellow and equivalent to the Axiom of Choice?

Zorn's Lemon

## Re:Math Humour & Simpsons (Score:2)

## Re:Math Humour & Simpsons (Score:2)

OK. I'll bite. Where does this come from? What exactly is the math humor here?Cross products & scalars are from vector algebra [wolfram.com]; "Abelian" is from group theory [wolfram.com].

-- MarkusQ

## let users mod up rejected submissions. (Score:5, Interesting)

news that hasn't made it:

-flexible ceramics (hybrid polymers) created using nanoscale chemistry at cornell

-a 1mm microscope that can examine individual molecules from within a cell developed at uc berkeley

-nasa and purdue announce serious investment of time and money on advanced life support systems which will likely be the basis for extraterrestrial colonization

-#1 site critical of scientology yanked from google

what has made it:

-resident evil movie review

-simpsons guide to math

-self heating can

-"please help me start my project because i am too stupid to figure it out myself" ask slashdot

## The difference between today and tomorrow. (Score:3, Funny)

Simpsons: Fun, interesting to talk about with my friends. Flexible ceramics? ZZzzz. How many years before we see something result from that?

Resident Evil movie: tempted to see that, Slashdot saved me money today. 1mm Microscope: Woopie. We'll see results from that in what, 5-10 years?

Self heating can: lots of us bachelors don't like to cook. This could also be quite useful in survival gear. It's going to be out SOON. (According to their marketing brocure...). The Google one you mentioned made it.

Please help my project? Due date NOW.

See the pattern? I'm not in any way saying that ultimately the news you suggested is less important, but the big difference is time. If something is going to happen years from now, then it has lower prescedence on what's happening today.

## Most likely limited to early seasons (Score:3, Insightful)

While approaching the question from a very different direction, I think this study/lecture helps to suggest that there was a significant change in the aim of the show after Season 7. Instead of appealing to the male 18-30 block, with heavy emphasis on college students, the show now is trying to appeal to a younger audience as well as more diverse; the number of these more intelligent gags have dropped drastically since that point, in addition to other noticable changes. I would think it would be hard pressed to find a non-trivial math reference in any recent episode of late, but more than enough pop-culture references are still there.

## Re:Most likely limited to early seasons (Score:2)

Homer: "Larry Flint is Right!" - speaking of Stephen Hawking when he comes to Springfield to correct the innefective "smart" government

Lisa: "I will NOT be a Gamecock!" - when she thinks that the family being arrested will mean she has to go to one of those schools where they just let anybody in

I don't know what season those are from, but they seem pretty new. They refer less to one's knowledge of theorems and formulas and more to one's familiarity with academic research, but they're still damn funny.

## Re:Most likely limited to early seasons (Score:2)

Marge:

"You liked Rashomon."Homer:

"That's not how I remember it."See Rashomon [imdb.com]

## Re:Most likely limited to early seasons (Score:2, Funny)

## Re:Most likely limited to early seasons (Score:2)

## Mathematicians get to watch TV (Score:2, Funny)

I'm going to compile a list of occurrences of physics in the Simpsons -- "Episode 1: Homer drops a doughnut. Fails to obey Newton's Second Law." [drew guffaws from physics students]

## Pretty big stretch (Score:2)

Do you really think students are learning ANYTHING about math from this list? I'm sure they're enjoying the talk, just as much as they would if it were a collection of Simpson jokes about being fat, but it feels like they're learning as much math from the Simpsons Math Lecture as from the Simpsons Fat Jokes.

The Simpsons does amazingly well at delivering jokes that fly over some viewer's head. Especially for younger viewers, there are many jokes that just aren't in their demographic, so the viewer ignores them. Ironically or not, I bet some viewers just assume that Math isn't in their demographic.

-Sam

## Re:Pretty big stretch (Score:2)

## Homer vs. New York (Score:2, Funny)

Parking Authority tape: "...Please wait by your car between the hours of 9 & 5 for parking officer Steve... [man's voice] Grabowski"

Homer: "Oh...how many hours is that anyway? [looks at watch] 9..11..denominator..."

## Fermats last theorem (Score:2)

## Re:Fermats last theorem (Score:2)

## Re:Fermats last theorem (Score:2)

## Re:Fermats last theorem (Score:3, Informative)

True...

Well, Andrew Wiles will have issues with you, and most of the math community agress with him, I believe

Um, no. Fermat's Last Theorem was the statement that

has

nosolution where x, y, and z are all integers, if n>3.To disprove Fermat's Theorem, all you would need to do would be to find a triplet of integers that obeys the equation above. Computers proved that for n < 12 (IIRC), there were none. But that doesn't prove the Theorem and (of course) fails to disprove it.

I think you confused the sense of the Theorem, perhaps because it is phrased negatively.

## Re:Fermats last theorem (Score:3, Informative)

But how in heck could a computer check this for n=4 and _all_ values of x, y, and z?

OTOH, as the transcript pointed out, you don't need to know how far Fermat's theorem has been tested to see that 1782^12 + 1841^12 = 1922^12 is wrong. Multiplying even numbers by even numbers always gives an even number. The equation is wrong, no arithmetic required. Multiplying odd numbers by odd numbers always gives an odd number. Add even to odd, and you get odd. Make it 1921^12, and we might need a forty-digit calculator to be absolutely _sure_ this wasn't the disproof of Fermat's last theorem...

## Re:Fermats last theorem (Score:2)

fishbulb 9# bc

1782^12 + 1841^12

2541210258614589176288669958142428526657

1922^12

254121025931480141081927864964365156761

So while it's technically wrong, it's still pretty friggin' close. It's only off by 700212234530608691501223040959.

## Re:Fermats last theorem (Score:2)

Of course, what is worse for engineers and programmers is that most calculations that _should_ come out to 0 or equality, don't if you do them in floating point. Numbers derived from real world measurements (including vote counts in the 2000 election) are usually only accurate to 2 or 3 figures, so exact calculations are pointless anyway, but if you forget that the numbers are fuzzy it's real easy to write "if (x==y)" and go nuts figuring out why the "then" branch is never taken. Or worse, to write "while (x!=y)", which will never terminate if the variables are floating point...

## Re:Fermats last theorem (Score:2)

## Re:Fermats last theorem (Score:2, Interesting)

1782 ^ 12 = 1.02539783562263E+39

1844 ^ 12 = 1.54572062047814E+39 +

--------------------

2.57111845610078E+39

1922 ^ 12 = 2.54121025931480E+39

Lameness filter is powerfully lame.

## "It's been done before" (Score:2)

I tell ya, these celbrities are smarter than any of us previously thought!

## The Metric System and Grandpa's Car (Score:5, Funny)

>Grampa: The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets 40 rods to the hogshead, and that's the way I likes it!

Let's see....

40 rods/Hogshead x

1 mile/320 rods x

1 Hogshead/63 gallons =

0.00198 miles/gallon or

504 gallons/mile

Perhaps Grampa drives an SUV?

## My Favorite: (Score:2)

"Doh! I should have read that book by that wheel-chair guy!"

## Different interpretation of 3.14159265... joke (Score:3, Funny)

## Re:Different interpretation of 3.14159265... joke (Score:4, Funny)

I think it's merely "Ha ha! They're so geeky that they memorized the first umpteen digits of pi for fun!"Nobody

3.14159really2653589does7932384that,62643383do27950288they?## Re:Different interpretation of 3.14159265... joke (Score:2)

## Fermat's Last Theorem (Score:2, Informative)

## Deep Space Homer (Score:3, Funny)

Tom: Now let's look at the crew a little.

Man 2: They're a colorful bunch. They've been dubbed "the Three Musketeers". Heh heh heh --

Tom: And we laugh legitimately. There's a mathematician, a different _kind_ of mathematician, and a statistician.

## Pi Never Gets Boring? (Score:2)

Two girls at a gifted school play patty-cake while chanting the digits of pi:

Cross my heart and hope to die

Here's the digits that make pi

3.1415926535897932384...

....

This was a good starting point to discuss the irrationality of Pi and the fact that this meant that not only would the patty-cake game never end, but

it would also never get boringsince the decimal expansion would never repeat.Ok, well i concede that you'll get a non-repeating string of numbers, but I take issue with the idea that it will never get boring. It will get very boring, I think, at least in base 10...you've only got 10 digits to work with! Even in hexadecimal with it's few extra digits it's gonna wear out pretty quick for kids today, what with their short attention spans. We need something that'll really captivate them. Now I know this isn't a permanent solution, but I suggest we read Pi in something like base 42....or base 500....something to keep that repetition of digits down.

## Re:Pi Never Gets Boring? (Score:2, Insightful)

bah, I prefer to count in base pi. then it is just "1"And I suppose you write ten as 1 in base ten, too.

## people.... **people**... (Score:2, Funny)

pi is exactly three!!!m'hey...

## `The Simpsons Rule' (Score:2)

Also, here's the email announcing the talk:

## Re:`The Simpsons Rule' (Score:2)

A lecture on "Pi" - followed by pie.

A lecture on the mathematics of juggling by Ron Graham - followed by graham crackers.

A lecture on math (I can't remember what the topic was) by Ed Burger - followed by Baskin Robbins Chilly Brrrgers.

## /.ted -- Google Cache (Score:2)

## Simpsons explained Black holes to me... (Score:3, Interesting)

I haveta admit, I carried away a lot more about black holes because of that episode. For example, I had always heard that 'time and space are curved', but could never really picture it until they explained it using footage from that show.

Us right brained people don't like books a whole lot. Math equations put us into screensaver mode. So when we get a visual like that, it suddenly clicks into place.

Kudos to Discovery Channel and the Simpsons for giving me the foundation ability to understand the more sophisticated theories about time and space.

## Frink Rules in HEX - 3D episode easter egg (Score:2)

"When homer stpes into the 3rd dimension (It's in a halloween episode, i think) there is a string of hexidecimal numbers that read: 46 72 69 6E 6B 20 72 75 6C 65 73 21 when converted to ASCII, this reads Frink rules!"

## My Favorite (Score:2, Redundant)

## Damn you, geeks! (Score:2)

Stop remembering TV and get back to work!

## Calculus is borderline insanity. (Score:5, Interesting)

The 2=1 proof depended on creating a non-obvious reference to 0/0=1, and then reducing down to 2=1.

Looking at it for a while, I relized that 0/0=x is the same as solving for 0=x*0 ... In other words, X can be

anything(integer, real , complex...).In first-year honors calculus, I realized that calculus is based on the same kind of construct, except for that you're solving for the limit of a/b=x as a and b approach zero -- in other words, dancing with the devil of 0/0.

The moral of my story:

Any references to prior art (I first came up with that pun in 1980)?## That's not the point (Score:5, Interesting)

Their argument is this: for those in college right now, the Simpsons has been on television for almost all of their lives. This year's freshmen were in

1st GRADEwhen the Simpsons first came on the air. And, these kids LOVE the Simpsons. Lucky for Math professors, a wide range of mathematical topics are covered within the Simpsons. So, if you want to connect with your students, try finding a Simpsons clip that is connected to your current topic and use that as a launch pad for in class discussion.I think you have to give these guys props, because they are actually trying to break

through the wallthat is between the professor and the average student so that the student might actually become interested inmat. Wow. Professors who care! This is cool.## Re:That's not the point (Score:5, Informative)

Still, my favorite "damn the writers of the Simpsons are over-educated genuses" gag is from one of the old Halloween episodes, in which they re-created Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven." If you'll recall, the bird in that show was drawn with Bart's head, so Bart = Raven. Look up the name Bart in a baby book and you'll find that it's the nickname for one of two longer names: Bartholemew, and (much less commonly of course) Bartram (or is it Bertram? I forget the spelling, it's been a while now...). And if you look up Bartram, you'll find that it's an Old English word referring to a person that handles ...ravens. [Kind of the same way that a falconer is a person that keeps & takes care of falcons, a ravener or "bartram" is a person that keeps ravens.] Now this is more than a little esoteric, and it could well be a coincidence (they had to get Bart in there somewhere, right?), but considering how often little gags like this crop up my bet is that it was deliberate. And my guess is that, of all the millions of people that watch the Simpsons, and of all the dozens that know how to speak Old English, there had to be no more than a handful of people that watched that episode, got the joke, realized that millions of others would have totally missed it, and laughed their damn heads off.... :)

Ever since I came across that, I've come to believe more and more strongly that Simpsons is our modern day Shakespeare. This gag is at least on par with Hamlet's "country matters" line in cleverness, and they manage to do it all the time. Will the show be remembered for as long or as fondly as Shakespeare? Who knows, but it could well happen and I wouldn't be surprised at all.

## Genuses (Score:2)

## Re:Genuses (Score:2)

What's even more fun is genius -> genii. The extra "i" is fun to pronounce

## Re:Genuses (Score:2)

What then is the correct Latinized plural for "typo", eh? "typis" maybe?Typoes, if you think of it as a theoretical third-declension noun, as English generally does.

Not that "typo" is actually a word, being merely an abbreviation for "typographical error".

Incidentally, the "genera" poster was making fun of you for confusing "genus" and "genius" in your original post.

## Re:That's not the point (Score:3, Insightful)

If you

havebeen bored, you will understand the importance of context in how something is presented. Simply showing a Simpson's clip won't necessarily break through any walls, but showing the clip and explaining why it is funny or relevant may just do so. Plus, if it wakes up the class and enlivens the discussion, everyone will benefit. People don't learn in a vacuum. Learning is a social act and is influenced deeply by culture.Of course, the more you enjoy and appreciate maths, the funnier the references are, so I don't really know where you're coming from with your criticism.

## Re:Grocery Store Scanner (Score:3, Informative)

From snpp.com's List of Inquiries & Substantive Answers:

"But the trivia question in The 138th Episode Spectacular said that the cash register read "NRA4EVER". What's going on here?

The trivia questions in The 138th Episode Spectacular are gags made to troll the audience, just like the images of Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, and Sam Simon in the episode are not what those people really look like. The cash register question is a gag referring to the people who have labeled the show as "the most liberal on television" by portraying it as having an ultra-conservative slant. "

## Re:Grocery Store Scanner (Score:2, Interesting)

## There is... (Score:2)

"They have the Internet on computers now?!?

"To start press 'any' key'"

"All this computer hacking is making me thirsty, I better order a TAB"

those were just off the top of my head....but this website [snpp.com] actually does list the computer references...

## Re:why only math'? (Score:3, Funny)

Lisa looks at Comic Book Guy's shirt reading "C:\DOS / C:\DOS\RUN / RUN\DOS\RUN". She reads it aloud.Lisa:Only one person in a million would findthatfunny.Frink:Yes, we call that the "Dennis Miller ratio." M'hey.## Re:No jokes about maths? (Score:3, Funny)

He was satisfied with 5 significant digits.

## technicality (Score:2)

I am so smart!

I am so smart!

S-M-R-T--I mean S-M-A-R-T...