Monday, September 23, 2013


If you're a Simpsons fan (and you darn well oughta be!) then the below post is for you, whether you relate most to Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, or none of the above. The secret nerdiness of one of the most popular, long-running shows in the history of TV is 'outed' by Simon Singh in his new mathematical expose' ("The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets") of that all-American family. Wonderful longish post below hints at how delightful the book is (…really, one of the most fun articles I've read in awhile):

Here's a bit therefrom:
"My favourite freeze-frame gag appears in "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace" (1998), in which Homer tries to become an inventor. In one scene, we see him busily scribbling equations on a blackboard. One of the equations relates to the mass of the Higgs boson, another concerns cosmology and the bottom line explores the geometry of doughnuts, but the most interesting equation is the second one, which appears to be a counterexample to Fermat's last theorem.

"Although it was only on screen for a moment, this equation immediately caught my eye, because I have written a book on Fermat's last theorem. Homer's scribble sent a shiver down my spine. I was so shocked that I almost snapped my slide rule…
[Singh goes on here to explain Fermat's Last Theorem to the reader before continuing]:

"...Homer's blackboard proves the opposite!

3987^12 + 4365^12 = 4472^12.

Check it for yourself on your phone calculator and you will find that the equation balances!"

[The problem famously lies in the error factor of the digital output for a handheld calculator; i.e. Homer does NOT disprove Fermat.]

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