Monday, April 7, 2014

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets by Simon Singh - Ashley's Pre-Reading

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Title: The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets
Author: Simon Singh
Year Published: 2013

You may have watched hundreds of episodes of The Simpsons (and its sister show Futurama) without ever realizing that cleverly embedded in many plots are subtle references to mathematics, ranging from well-known equations to cutting-edge theorems and conjectures. That they exist, Simon Singh reveals, underscores the brilliance of the shows’ writers, many of whom have advanced degrees in mathematics in addition to their unparalleled sense of humor.

While recounting memorable episodes such as “Bart the Genius” and “Homer3,” Singh weaves in mathematical stories that explore everything from p to Mersenne primes, Euler’s equation to the unsolved riddle of P v. NP; from perfect numbers to narcissistic numbers, infinity to even bigger infinities, and much more. Along the way, Singh meets members of The Simpsons’ brilliant writing team—among them David X. Cohen, Al Jean, Jeff Westbrook, and Mike Reiss—whose love of arcane mathematics becomes clear as they reveal the stories behind the episodes.

With wit and clarity, displaying a true fan’s zeal, and replete with images from the shows, photographs of the writers, and diagrams and proofs, The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets offers an entirely new insight into the most successful show in television history.

Why?: I'm a huge nerd, and I especially love math. I've watched a few episodes of The Simpsons and most of Futurama, and I've always loved all of the subtle hidden math jokes - the ones I picked up on, at least. I'm really excited to learn about more hidden math in these series and to maybe even learn about some mathematical concepts, ideas, and theorems I don't already know. 

Expectations: This is obviously a non-fiction book, so I'm not expecting a story or anything like that. I am expecting a lot of math and a lot of nerds and a lot of exceptionally well-placed jokes that the average person won't get or understand. Also, simplified explanations of things because this isn't a textbook and isn't intended to confuse everyone who reads it. 

Judging a book by its cover: I kind of love this cover. It's simple, but it screams "MATH" and "SIMPSONS" and is pretty much unlike most covers out there. Honestly, this cover is what made me notice the book at Barnes & Noble to begin with, so I'd say it's pretty effective. I'd obviously pick it up in a bookstore! 


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