Well, you know, you have a character named Fry and we're always very - we're always happy to a guy named Fry because we're SciFri. Congratulations. COHEN: I would like to rest a little bit... COHEN: ...after the grueling ups and downs of "Futurama" but I will be back with something good, so. in Physics, then went to University of California, Berkeley, to get an M.S. And a particularly interesting thing about this problem is that one of the earliest papers written on the subject was actually coauthored by Bill Gates of Microsoft fame. That episode, like many "Simpsons" episodes, had a background that was calling out to be filled up with something. And they ultimately rule one horse the winner, causing the professor to lose his bet. This was back in 1995, is that right, Simon? He may not be well known in America but he has a degree in math and physics from Dublin and he's, you know, one of the top rated standup comics over here. The example before was the background gag with the blackboard. FLATOW: Have you had - I'm sorry, go ahead. Ken's very modest about it; he says it's no big deal but it's a nice little theorem. FLATOW: Mm-hmm. SINGH: I think it goes back to the very, very beginning. You have gravity pulling in different directions or a gravitational equation in "Treehouse of Horror VI" and I was giving a talk today about this topic, about mathematics and "The Simpsons" and "Futurama" at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge where they've got a very, very strong particle physics group there. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. It's a little easier. Sometimes there are obscure references to history for example or whatever the particular writer's interested in. But the professors at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge were very impressed and were saying, you know, for 1994 which I think was the date maybe of that episode - no, 1998 - that was not a bad at all prediction for the Higgs boson. Although we do know some very funny scientists. "The Simpsons" is the longest running TV scripted series in history and the 1989 paper by the mathematicians states, “With a large enough sample, any outrageous thing is … Do you have a favorite one? Red rum, red rum. SINGH: I talk about "Are You Being Served?" But Ramanujan said, oh, OK. What was the number of the taxi you took to get here? So in the episode Simon's talking about I have one that's correct to ten places. COHEN: Yes, I do have one that I like to quote. That in both cases you're trying to get to an end point. Now that is binary but in decimal it's 666 which is the number of The Beast and is very terrifying. 1-800-989-8255. Which isn't very interesting. But I kind of left "The Simpsons" behind when I went to "Futurama" so I've been gone from there for a while. I mean, I asked all the - I met the writers last year and they were very generous with their time and I asked them this question as well. He's more interested in the pie of pastry than 3.14. And the answer is nobody is quite sure even to this day but the best we can do is sort of put bounds on it. FLATOW: Right. That's really interesting because 1729 is the smallest number that's the sum of two cubes in two different ways. So up in - late in the show - late in the process of making the show we suddenly say, wait a second, Homer's a genius in this episode writing on a blackboard. COHEN: Did you buy it enough to offer me some grant money? COHEN: Yeah. FLATOW: Did you all find out that there were mathematicians and people who were interested in math as part of your "Simpsons" audience? In this particular episode I would say things are a little bit different because this is one episode of "The Simpsons" where the math and science of it is really front and center. The simpsons and their mathematical secrets by simon singh 2014 09 25 simon singh isbn 0783324828214 kostenloser versand fur alle bucher mit versand und verkauf duch amazon. So the head writers, Al Jean and Mike Reiss early on that Simon mentioned, and later Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, among others, were very encouraging of people to just put in obscure references to whatever they were interested in. His comments about his career as a mathematician can be found below and in A Futurama Math Interview with Dr. Ken Keeler . And the question was how many spatula flips does it take to sort a stack of N pancakes? Listeners may not have followed it all in detail. Yeah. In The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, Simon Singh explains how the brilliant writers, some of the mathematicians, have smuggled in mathematical jokes throughout the cartoon's twenty-five year history, exploring everything from to Mersenne primes, from Euler's equation to the unsolved riddle of P vs. NP, from perfect numbers to narcissistic numbers, and much more. You've got to come over and work with me. SINGH: You're spot on, I think. He had very little schooling but he just would invent theorems that were beautiful and elegant and rich and original. Shortly after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in as president and vice president, fans of "The Simpsons" took to social media to claim that the show, once again, had predicted a moment before it transpired in reality. Ken Keeler wrote for The Simpsons from 1994-1998 before leaving to write for Futurama. What's so special about that episode? So we have an episode of "The Simpsons" postulating an answer to an unsolved riddle in mathematics. COHEN: "Futurama" just finished up, so that was my main vehicle for sneaking these things in. And we were saying, oh, this isn't so hard. COHEN: Yeah. But when you get served the pancakes initially they're all out of order and the only way you can sort them is to stick a spatula in, somewhere in the middle of the stack, lift up the ones above it and flip them all over and put them back down. So observation that there's definitely something there but the explanation, yeah, not clear. COHEN: That's actually a good idea if we ever are a little short on ideas for the episode. And that will certainly have a lot of math and science in it. We better have something there. RICHARD: Hey guys. This is SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR. There's also an equation which says p equals np which is an answer to a question which is worth a million dollars if you can solve it. I know that 24 is the series - very unmathematical. As an example, David X Cohen, one of the writers, graduated from Harvard University with B.A. "The Simpsons" has always been kind of an oddball among TV shows because the inmates run the asylum, meaning the writers obviously in this case. Also, according to Selman, the mathematical writers do have a particular trait: ‘Comedy writers all like to think that we’re great observers of the human condition and that we understand pathos, bathos, and all the -athoses. Now, what's lovely about that is that's never explained to the viewer. FLATOW: Has Bart ever written pi on the - as a, you know, punishment exercise, right? FLATOW: We're going to come back, talk more with David X. Cohen and Simon Singh, author of "The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets." Let me put it that way. Several episodes of In The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, Simon Singh explains how the brilliant writers, some of the mathematicians, have smuggled in mathematical jokes throughout the cartoon's twenty-five year history, exploring everything from to Mersenne primes, from Euler's equation to the unsolved riddle of P vs. NP, from perfect numbers to narcissistic numbers, and … After Greenwald was interviewed for NPR’s Science Friday in 2005, some of the writers heard the program. I think observationally there's definitely something there because you have a, you know, huge gang of mathematicians on "The Simpsons" and "Futurama" and then people like Tom Lehrer. I think it's 12 cubed plus one cubed and it's also 10 cubed plus nine cubed. So, you know, somebody else could and probably has written a book about "The Simpsons" and history of "The Simpsons" and philosophy. COHEN: Simon, it's almost "Twilight Zone" there. The simpsons and their mathematical secrets is a 2013 book by simon singh which is based on the premise that many of the writers of the simpsons are deeply in love with numbers and their ultimate desire is to drip feed morsels of mathematics into the subconscious minds of viewers the book compiles all the mathematical references used throughout the shows run and analyzes them in detail. He was so bright that he went to Harvard to study math when he was only 16 years old. File Name: The Simpsons And Their Mathematical Secrets Author Simon Singh Published On October 2014, Hash File: c9904c6156d4d6726e796fe1c5b99c7a.pdf. Which is what happens to that universe in that episode. FLATOW: So the inmates are running the asylum over there, yeah. Author Simon Singh's new book teases out the mathematical references hidden in The Simpsons. What is that? And then occasionally you break the logic. The simpsons and their mathematical secrets by author simon singh october 2014 isbn kostenloser versand fur alle bucher mit versand und verkauf duch amazon. SINGH: It reminds me, I mean, it's about almost like scientists talking about the philosophy of science. How often do people send in jokes? SINGH: Well, so the episode involves the - Professor Farnsworth has a mind switching machine and characters have fun switching minds occupying other people's bodies and there's kind of an orgy of mind switching. The writers relished the notion of the freeze-frame gag, because it enabled them to increase the comedic density. So he's contradicting "The Simpsons" episode by saying p does not equal np. But there is this physics element to it. And by the way, another reason these jokes appeared is because "The Simpsons," the arrival of the Simpsons in the TV schedule was right around the time that everyone pretty much had a VCR for the first time so it became possible to do these freeze frame jokes where you actually were cognizant that the viewer would be able to go back and look at them later. COHEN: That's a better answer. But on one of the blackboards where David put a false solution to Fermat's Last Theorem there's also an equation that predicts the math of the Higgs boson. FLATOW: Do you need to have a different mindset to write math for the different shows? Simpsons writer Al Jean, third from left in the back row, in the mathematics team from 1977 Roeper School yearbook. Let me play it first. What's going on here? He says "The Simpsons" set is populated with number-loving writers who have been smuggling math into the series for years, usually without us noticing. The Simpsons And Their Mathematical Secrets Author Simon Singh Published On October 2014 PDF, ePub eBook, Simon singh ist mit the simpsons and their mathematical secrets ein sehr kurzweiliges buch zu den mathematik anspielungen in der fernsehserie die simpsons gelungen zu diesem thema gibt es chon mehrere internetseiten und blogs die alle folgen der kultserie genauestens unter die lupe nehmen und anspielungen auf mathematische themen suchen . David, being in scifi there are a lot of science jokes in "Futurama." I mean, I could tell you how it appeared in "The Simpsons," but David X. Cohen is the man who's responsible so... COHEN: All right. MATTHEW: Hi there. You changed the outcome by measuring it. It was my uniform number in little league because I was a fan of Willie Mays. We left off at a very dramatic moment when I was about to reveal the answer to this problem. So that was my goal. I think there's an Escher gag around the sofas where the family arrive into a kind of a universe where gravity is pulling in three perpendicular directions. Simon, you spent a lot of time writing about "The Prisoner of Benda." SINGH: I've got a feeling that there is a - I was going to say Addish. Well, you're trying to fake it a little. Got out of the taxi, went in to Ramanujan's room, sat next to his bed and, now, Ramanujan was dying so there wasn't much they could really talk about. MATTHEW: ...to give me my royalties for that. So the timing just happened to work out to make these things possible. And ideally you would like to have them in that nice, neat arrangement where the biggest one is on the bottom, then they're in order up to the smallest one on top. He is a former Simpson writer and an executive producer of "The Simpsons" sister series "Futurama." It's not clear if that's possible. As a binary number, it's 357. FLATOW: 1-800-989-8255, if you'd like to talk about "The Simpsons" and all the math that's in there. FLATOW: And were you allowed and are the writers still allowed free rein to stick in math whenever they'd like to? Hi, Richard. So in both cases you have this end point. So sometimes even in the (unintelligible) there is mathematics. And other mathematicians have played with it as well and added to it a bit. And the one common theme that people seem to suggest was the idea that mathematics is about logic and so these people enjoy playing with logic, they enjoy stretching it, bending logic. You're not sure how you're going to get there. But, you know, in that one 6- or 7-minute story, there is another false solution to Fermat's Last Theorem, a near miss false solution, very clever one. That's funny. FLATOW: Very close to our heart. Is there a trick that we're missing? FLATOW: I'm going to have to hold you there. And I have a chapter that's kind of all about their different answers. FLATOW: Simon Singh, thank you very much for taking time to be with us today and good luck on the book. And, you know, it shows the extent of what's going on in "Futurama" and "The Simpsons.". I had a question for David. I guess we're always going to be scribbling something. Because these are sort of background jokes, things that you can only see really if you freeze frame later on, at that time a VCR, or nowadays on your DVR. So he got on a ship and he came to Cambridge and he flourished. I know one area where it may relate is in terms of looking at DNA, where you look at bits of DNA that have broken off and reverse themselves from generation to generation. The Simpsons and their mathematical secrets by Simon Singh. This is my moment to shine. And at "The Simpsons" even through all the different incarnations and different show runners, they've always been people who encouraged the writers to really go into depth about subjects they were interested in. So I certainly observed that throughout my life. How did it end up in "The Simpsons?". This is Sweet Clyde explaining the "Futurama" theorem. And then the mother sees it reflected in the mirror which is Murder backwards, Red rum. Because this is probably the only example in the history of television of a comedy writer creating a bespoke theorem purely to resolve a plot point. So both these two people, Mike Reiss, Al Jean both loved math, both loved comedy writing. COHEN: But you have to say it in a way that's funny. But there's always time still on "The Simpsons." What is there about the connection between comedy writing and mathematicians? And you'd say, oh, how many flips did it take to get from this starting point to this end point. It sounds like our prediction was not that accurate for our universe but it was very accurate for Homer's universe. And Bender gets up and runs away. And I was wondering if, David, you could expound if there's any significance to that. or "Benny Hill" when I'm talking in the U.K. but it's the same point. I'm Ira Flatow. And there's always been great freedom for the writing staff there, thanks to Jim Brooks and Matt Groening demanding that when the show first came on the air. You have an odd perspective on the world. There is a number that I purposefully stick in periodically into episodes and that's the number 24. The Simpsons and their mathematical secrets proves that you can be both good at maths and funny. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record. The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets is a 2013 book by Simon Singh, which is based on the premise that "many of the writers of The Simpsons are deeply in love with numbers, and their ultimate desire is to drip-feed morsels of mathematics … Do they send in math, say, hey, put this on or do that kind of stuff there? There's an appearance by Euler's identity which is E to the I pi plus one equals zero, although slightly rearranged in this episode. When a writer worked on only one of these it was indicated in … FLATOW: And that's why sometimes you have freeze frames or you can freeze your VCR in the old days and then try out the number and see if it's working. But essentially what I'm trying to say here is we've got a debate about the outcome of an incredibly important conjecture in mathematics spanning across two animated series. I don't mean Addish; I mean Escher. We have something, another clip that I want to play, something called a clip from the season finale, "The Prisoner of Benda." And Hardy said it was 1729. And so in that very first series - well, in pretty much the first episode, "Bart the Genius," we have a reference to calculus, in fact a very old joke about calculus. Stephen Hawking, Stephen Jay Gould and Nobel Prize winners. You can decide how phony baloney it sounds. There's a reference to Cartesian coordinates. This one, the very plot of the episode was mathematical in terms of Homer entering a higher dimension. The list includes all the writers from seasons 1 through 29. In this case we had a blackboard. Quick phone call before the break. And so why does this number 1729 keep cropping up in "Futurama"? And they seem to have been doing this ever since. So Ken Keeler, who has a Ph.D. in applied math from Harvard and who was AT&T Bell Laboratories and who's been a writer on "The Simpsons" and "Futurama," he decided to look at this problem from a mathematical point of view. He reveals how the writers have drip-fed … This interesting and quirky little book works through two decades of prime material to shine light on the nerdy little secrets of The Simpsons.Surprisingly a large number of The Simpsons writers are prestigious mathematicians … So in this case it's apparently a counter example to Fermat's Last Theorem, which says that for the equation a to the n plus b to the n equals c to the n, there are no solutions of n is greater than 2. COHEN: Oh, it's very, very important. If you mean more philosophically, I guess... COHEN: No. This problem is pretty easy after all if we can do it for TV. So what Jeff Westbrook is saying is, no, no, the hard ones will always be in a separate folder and the easy problems will always be in a separate folder. FLATOW: Right. And I think it's the only paper that he's known to have published, though. I mean, they can't believe at the beginning it's for the money. And that's what appears in this episode. SINGH: So that's the depth to which these writers are playing around and having fun with math and having fun with the audience who picks up on what they're doing. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY, Dr. Singh. If the hard questions, which are called np could be made easy, which is a p type question, then p equals np. FLATOW: Thank you. SINGH: And the prediction is somewhat high. Not quite the season finale but really a finale of a great piece. It really hit me straight between the eyes because that was the first - you know, the first book I'd ever written was all about Fermat's Last Theorem. And I started saying, no, there's no connection at all. That was referring to the difficulty of rendering the computer graphics on computers at that time. It's nice to hear that you guys were. Instead, he is confident that it was inserted during one of the collaborative rewrites, when the mathematical … And it's the number of the Nimbus Spaceship, Zapp Brannigan's spaceship. So there was actually an explanation from some of these jokes, the math jokes that Simon's talking about that relates to this, in terms of us saying P equals NP in that episode. SINGH: Well, yeah. Matthew in Denver. It never quite seems to end. And in this clip, Simon, maybe you could tell us about this. Hi, Matthew. Some episodes, such as Treehouse of Horror episodes are divided into three smaller stories which have then been given a title. And then in "Futurama" which is the sister series to "The Simpsons"- and David was co-creator of that series, we see another writer, I think it's Jeff Westbrook, in an episode called "Put Your Heads on My Shoulder." FLATOW: You're right. You know, there may not be a really funny way to deliver the information and there may not be a proof to get to your statement, even if it is true. FLATOW: This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. Copyright © 2013 NPR. And, you know, this is extraordinary stuff. in Computer Science. So I can tell you 24 - there's like, a, you know, proposition 24 they vote on ending. Singh reveals that many of The Simpsons’ writers are very highly skilled mathematicians having Master’s degrees in maths, physics or computer science and sometimes even PhDs. The Simpsons' writing room in 1992. SINGH: You know, the greatest musical satirist of the 20th century, a math professor at Harvard. Good to talk to you. FLATOW: All right. But that's also a reference to "The Shining" when the boy Danny goes into his mother's bedroom and writes red rum on the door. And our theory was if you put in a very obscure joke in the background, those few people who get it will be so amazed that you hit this obscure thing that only they and a few other people know about, that they'll really be hooked for life. The mathematicians on … So only later when we saw people discussing it energetically on the Internet did we realize people were actually getting these jokes that were done really pretty much for our own amusement. You know, it's not always math. When he was a teenager he competed in math competitions. And at that time it was very, very expensive to do this kind of 3-D graphics for television that we were going to attempt to do. Some have seen philosophy embedded in episodes of The Simpsons; others have detected elements of psychology and religion.Simon Singh, bestselling author of Fermat's Last Theorem, The Code Book and The Big Bang, instead makes the compelling case that what The Simpsons' writers are most passionate about is mathematics. That, of course, is the theme of the longest running sitcom in American history. There is a reference to the Utah teapot which is a way of modeling three dimensional objects which kind of test how good your mathematical modeling is. So it's just very rare you get to work on a TV show where whatever you're interested in you have the opportunity to sneak it in. SINGH: Professionals are very impressed by what goes on in "The Simpsons.". So I don't actually - I don't know the 37. We'll be right back. In The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, Simon Singh explains how the brilliant writers, some of the mathematicians, have smuggled in mathematical jokes throughout the cartoon's twenty-five year history, exploring everything from to Mersenne primes, from Euler's equation to the unsolved riddle of P vs. NP, from perfect numbers to narcissistic numbers, and much more. And he says no fair. I want to play a clip of the episode called "Homer Cubed." Often my friend David Schiminovich, for example, who's an astrophysicist at Columbia. Also, while the Simpsons writers are undoubtedly wonderfully gifted individuals, Singh consistently exaggerates their mathematical bona fides; it seems that according to Singh, a “mathematician” is anyone who has dropped out of a math course. There's an episode where a character, Professor Farnsworth, is at the horse races in the future and there's a very close finish, so close that they call it a quantum finish and they have to take a photo. So there are lots of sketches on the Internet of Bart doing the chalkboard gag but with complicated math instead, or complicated equations repeated line after line. Our number 1-800-989-8255. You're slightly an outsider. Apparently, the majority of the writers for the show were schooled in mathematics, physics, or engineering, so they are fond of including mathematics into the show, a good deal in cameo. And in fact, there is a crossover "Futurama" - "Simpsons" episode coming up next fall for any of you joint fans. And so a Cambridge mathematician said, look, you've got to come to England. A couple of people, like Mike Reiss who was a really talented young mathematician. Happy to be here. Author Simon Singh helps Ira decode the show's numberplay, while former Simpsons writer David X. Cohen remembers how he helped Homer solve Fermat's Last Theorem (sort of). Simpsons writer Al Jean,third from left in the back row,in the mathematics team from 1977 Roeper School yearbook.Photograph:CourtesyofAl Jean newsgroup that allowed fans to share, among other things, their freeze-frame discoveries. For 25 seasons, The Simpsons writers have been smuggling math onto Americans' TV screens. FLATOW: Does it have any practical application at all? Well, it relates to an Indian mathematician called Ramanujan. Is there such a thing as a former writer, David? Gentlemen, I want to thank you both for taking time with be with us. Simon Singh joins me from London to help us unpack some of these math gags. COHEN: So I took his number. And it's a lovely little theorem. COHEN: You know, I've been asked this question a lot and I used to always try to make something up on the spot and it would always sound a little concocted. Simon, what's your favorite number to crop up in "The Simpsons" or "Futurama"? I just, you know, it's like a former president or something? FLATOW: Simon, how did the Simpsons' writers - how did that room become a magnet for mathematicians? Now, the problem is that the mind switching machine has a glitch. "The Simpsons" kicked off its 25th season this year. I don't think there's been anything particularly mathematical in those gags but I've seen a lot of people parody it with mathematics. That's the one thing I have in common with Bill Gates. the writers of the simpsons are deeply in love with numbers and their ultimate desire is to drip feed morsels of mathematics into the subconscious minds of viewers the book compiles all the mathematical references used throughout the shows run and analyzes them in detail about the simpsons and their mathematical secrets the brainy book by the bestselling author of fermats … It didn't really matter to us that much if people got them. And when you break the logic you get to the illogical. Singh reports that one of the mathematicians on the Simpsons writing team, J. Stewart Burns, draws a parallel between puzzles, which represent the very essence of math, and jokes. Accuracy and availability may vary. Rating: David X. Cohen, a former "Simpson" writer and executive producer of "Futurama," "The Simpsons" sister series. And by the way, you're right, it was 1995, David. Simpsons writer Al Jean recalls that the Springfield Googolplex freeze-frame gag was not in the original draft of the script for "Colonel Homer." COHEN: He wasn't that interested in my answer, apparently. Although I visit once in a while. FLATOW: We'll get an answer after the break. Mathematicians have no idea what the answer to this question is. SINGH: Well, I really think it's my favorite number before I noticed it in "Futurama" but it's 1729 - 1,729. List of writers Some mathematicians, particularly those involved in the education system, may feel it's worth sacrificing accuracy to encourage more people to pursue the discipline. But in the episode "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace," Homer does something extraordinary. Many of The Simpsons' writers have mathematical backgrounds, perhaps explaining the show's penchant for the topic. We have crickets chirping in the background when we try to do it. And similarly, there was actually another equation if we can go all the way from math to physics, if we can make that huge... COHEN: ...transition for a second, there was another equation floating around in the third dimension relating to astrophysics and it was saying that the universe would ultimately contract and collapse on itself. FLATOW: Or are you just doing it for yourself? FLATOW: There you go. COHEN: Hmm. FLATOW: I'm Ira Flatow. And David, anything on the future for you, what you'd like to do? He seems to have found a counter example to the notorious math problem Fermat's Last Theorem. And you might say how many mutations or how many generations it might've taken to get from one point to another. You know, and - see? FLATOW: No, they just listen on the radio. You have simple questions and hard questions in math. Homer Simpson might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, true. 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Singh, thank you both for taking time with be with us, had a background that was sort just... Be in its final form and may be updated or revised in (... It appears in `` Futurama, '' that had that also our prediction not., this is Sweet Clyde explaining the show 's penchant for the money very modest about it ; he it... You took to get there about `` the Simpsons '' and bit bit! I did n't know the 37 a couple of things about it put... Reality and higher dimensions might be like 's definitely something there but the explanation, yeah, not.! And writing jokes, this is my observation philosophically, I was about to reveal the answer to Indian. Backwards, Red simpsons writers mathematicians, causing the professor to lose his bet in very, very.. Between different areas of interest have in common with Bill Gates 's known to have a that! Say Addish have one that I purposefully stick in math whenever they 'd like to quote was my number! In the trashcan before we see it, probably for legal reasons that do think! Goes back to their original bodies a binary reference to a good question professor who invited him,... Gets their own bodies by maybe alternative routes if people got them writers hate is to! Most that many flips, at most that many flips, at most that many flips did take.