Simon Singh: The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets

Simon Singh has a very easy style and voice which belies the genius within. His Ph.D is in particle physics and that remains his main area of interest, but his forays into mathematics have made him a BAFTA award winner and Emmy nominee. He is also author of the first book on mathematics to become a UK No 1 bestseller. On stage he is in his element talking about the joy and significance of numbers, pouring out mathematical gems for the masses in an entirely intelligible manner. Occasionally he will halt himself and think twice before embarking on anything too complex: he then might decide to go for it but will still keep it simple.

Most of the audience were there just to hear and see the man himself. Obviously they were not disappointed: he puts on a great show

For a warm up he revealed the hidden secrets of the Toblerone and FEDEX logos and assessed his audience’s mathematical threshold with a series of graded questions. This exercise along with the rest of the illustrative material he used appeared clearly on the presentation screen. Before long we were all relaxed and laughing in a lecture on mathematics!Of course, it was mathematics within the context of the Simpsons, but who could have imagined it would lead us into the realms of the PvNP mystery, Euler's identity, taxicab numbers, Mersenne primes, and aleph and narcissistic numbers.

Most of the audience were probably already aware of some of the content of Dr Singh’s lecture and were there just to hear and see the man himself. Obviously they were not disappointed: he puts on a great show. For those of us who were ignorant, The Simpsons and Futurama will never be the same again and we have Simon Singh to thank for that. Now, as well as focussing on the characters and the dialogue, we will be scouring every episode for numbers and equations, knowing that these are not just chosen at random but carefully selected to delight those out there who are in the know: the rest of us can just jot them down and do an internet search to find out why they are important. 1729 is your starter.

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The Blurb

Everyone loves The Simpsons, but few people realise that its mathematically gifted team of scriptwriters have used the series to explore everything, from pi to primes, from calculus to geometry, from infinitesimals to infinity.

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