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The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets

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Overview

Simon Singh, author of the bestsellers Fermat’s Enigma, The Code Book, and Big Bang, offers fascinating new insights into the celebrated television series The Simpsons: That the show drip-feeds morsels of number theory into the minds of its viewers—indeed, that there are so many mathematical references in the show, and in its sister program, Futurama, that they could form the basis of an entire university course.

 

Recounting memorable episodes from “Bart the Genius” to ...

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Overview

Simon Singh, author of the bestsellers Fermat’s Enigma, The Code Book, and Big Bang, offers fascinating new insights into the celebrated television series The Simpsons: That the show drip-feeds morsels of number theory into the minds of its viewers—indeed, that there are so many mathematical references in the show, and in its sister program, Futurama, that they could form the basis of an entire university course.

 

Recounting memorable episodes from “Bart the Genius” to “Homer3,” Singh brings alive intriguing and meaningful mathematical concepts—ranging from the mathematics of pi and the paradox of infinity to the origin of numbers and the most profound outstanding problems that haunt today’s generation of mathematicians. In the process, he illuminates key moments in the history of mathematics, and introduces us to The Simpsons’ brilliant writing team—the likes of David X. Cohen, Al Jean, Jeff Westbrook, and Stewart Burns—all of whom have various advanced degrees in mathematics, physics, and other sciences.

 

Based on interviews with the writers of The Simpsons and replete with images from the shows, facsimiles of scripts, paintings and drawings, and other imagery, The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets will give anyone who reads it an entirely new insight into the most successful show in television history.

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  • The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets
    The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

While some watch The Simpsons for jokes about sloppiness and sloth, Dr. Simon Singh (Fermat's Enigma; The Code Book) has been viewing it attentively as a source of mathematical fun. As we learn in this engaging book, he wasn't just imagining things. With a notably nerdy staff (five scriptwriters have a total of no fewer than nine Ivy League math and science degrees), the longest running sitcom in TV history has been literally toying with math since day one: In fact, the very first scene of the first scene began with Lisa placing with alphabet blocks that spell out "EMCSQU," a toddler's tribute to Einstein's theory. Singh mixes show jokes about pies and pi with lively descriptions of the mathematical theories looming behind the puns and chalk jottings. Even serious math-phobes and Bart Simpson wannabes will enjoy this book.

Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-01
Higher math for dummies, courtesy of The Simpsons. Perhaps Simpsons nerds have known this all along, but for the rest of us who think of the TV show as primarily a sharp piece of comic writing, it may come as a surprise to learn that it is riddled with sophisticated mathematics, including rubber sheet geometry, the puzzle of Rubik's Cube, Fermat's last theorem ("embedded within a narrative that explores the complexities of higher-dimensional geometry"), Mersenne prime numbers and plenty of other obscure material. Often in the show, this will fly by as sight gags, but just as often it is faced head-on, as when Lisa tackles statistics or Homer ponders three dimensions. Singh (Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe, 2005, etc.) is a lively writer with an easy, unthreatening manner who takes readers smoothly through some fairly thorny mathematics. He also dives into the curious relationship between mathematics and comedy writers: It appears that most Simpsons writers graduated from Harvard with a degree in mathematics, and nearly all were on the staff of the Lampoon. Singh finds them possessed of a desire "to drip-feed morsels of mathematics into the subconscious minds of viewers." One of the show's writers put it simply: "The process of proving something has some similarity with the process of comedy writing, inasmuch as there's no guarantee you're going to get to your ending." The author includes plenty of solid, vest-pocket profiles of both the show's writers and great mathematicians of the past--e.g., Zu Chongzhi, Sophie Germain, Leonhard Euler--as well as a look at Matt Groening's Simpsons spawn, Futurama, a show about a futuristic delivery service with enough nerdy references to sink a spaceship. A fun trip with the "ultimate TV vehicle for pop culture mathematics."
From the Publisher
“Engaging (and educational) . . . Singh delves into the academic backgrounds of some of the most poindextrous Simpsons writers.” —Wired

“Mathematical concepts both useful and obscure explained via the antics of America’s favorite yellow family!” —Mental Floss

“Plenty of solid, vest-pocket profiles of both the show’s writers and great mathematicians of the past . . . A fun trip with the ‘ultimate TV vehicle for pop culture mathematics.’” —Kirkus Reviews

 

"Simon Singh's excellent book blows the lid off a decades-long conspiracy to secretly educate cartoon viewers." —David X. Cohen, writer for The Simpsons and Futurama

 

"It's hard to imagine a grander, more thrilling story . . . fast-paced . . . hugely entertaining . . . Big Bang is, quite literally, cosmic." —New York Times on Big Bang

"Singh spins tales of cryptic intrigue in every chapter." —Wall Street Journal on The Code Book

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781620402771
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 10/29/2013
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 137,400
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Simon Singh received his Ph.D. in particle physics from the University of Cambridge. A former BBC producer, he directed the BAFTA Award–winning documentary film Fermat’s Last Theorem and wrote Fermat’s Enigma, the bestselling book on the same subject. His bestseller The Code Book was the basis for the BBC series The Science of Secrecy. His third book, Big Bang, was also a bestseller, and Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine, written with Edzard Ernst, gained widespread attention. Singh lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

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(6)

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 26, 2014

    Humorous and edifying.

    Humorous and edifying.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2013

    Punk

    Stupid

    1 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2014

    Quite fun recalling the episodes mentioned

    As a data analyst I really enjoyed this book. It was fun remembering the episodes as they were described in the book. I also enjoyed the chapter on Futurama. There is not a lot of new information about the show or its authors if you are an avid fan but fun anyway.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2014

    Fun Read

    If you like the Simpsons OR math, you will enjoy this book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2014

    What a surprise

    When I saw this book on a today deal I swooped it up and then bought a hard copy one for my son a math teacher. Who would of known when he was addicted to the Simpsons as a teen, he would learn math and become math teacher. He was thrilled to get the book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2014

    Interesting...

    I found that this book did a great job of making complex mathematics accessible to everyone. I wish I had thid book in high school or even college. I think it would have had a good influence on my education. The Simpsons and Futurama are 2 of my favorite shows and now I have new information to watch it with.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2014

    Frfrv

    U

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews

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