SIMON SINGH: Great. Thank you very much for

inviting me here to speak today. So this is the

book– “The Simpsons And Their Mathematical Secrets.” I’ve been working on

this book– I first started writing to the writers

about eight or nine years ago. And for the last

eight or nine years, I’ve been thinking

about this book and talking about this book. And whenever I talk

about “The Simpsons” and I say to people there’s

tons of maths hidden in “The Simpsons,” people are

always shocked and surprised. And what I’m trying

to do in this book is, I’m trying to explain

to people that there are lots of writers on

“The Simpsons” who love. There are lots of

writers on “The Simpsons” who studied mathematics

to degree level, to master’s level, to PhD level. Now they’re no longer

mathematicians, they’re now writers, but

they still love mathematics. And the way they

express that love is by putting little

bits of mathematics into the series– often

when we’re not looking. What sort of thing

am I talking about? Well, for example,

here’s an episode called, “Marge + Homer

Turn a Couple Play.” The story here is that

Buck “Home Run” Mitchell is married to Tabitha Vixx. And Tabitha Vixx and

Buck have a marital spat. Their marriage is in trouble. They go and talk

to Homer and Marge and Homer and Marge

repair their marriage. And by the end of the episode

everything’s all right. But the very finale of

the episode, Tabitha proclaims her love to Buck. But at the end of the

episode, at the same time, on the Jumbo-Vision screen

at Springfield Stadium, what you see is this question up

on the Jumbo-Vision screen. And it asks the crowd, what’s

the attendance at the game? Is it 8191, is it

8128, is it 8208, or is there no way to tell? OK. And nobody ever noticed

this, because everybody’s paying attention to Tabitha. Nobody ever noticed

these numbers. But each one of these

numbers is there for a very special reason. It’s there because each

one of those numbers is mathematically significant. So for example, you take

the first number, 8191. 8191 is a prime number. Some of you may

have spotted that. But it’s not just

any old prime number, it’s a Mersenne prime number. So Mersenne prime numbers

have this very special form. They’re of the form 2 to

the power of p minus 1, where p is also a prime number. So in this case, if you

raise it to the power 13, 2 to the power of 13

minus 1, you get 8191. So somebody put in that

8191, because, OK, it’s a plausible number

for a baseball crowd. But it’s also a Mersenne number. And Mersenne primes

are very special. I think the ten

biggest prime numbers we know are all Mersenne primes. So somebody put some

thought into that. And the next number is the same. The next number is 8128. 8128 is a very special number. It’s what’s known

as a perfect number, and a perfect number is

one of those numbers where the divisors is of the number

add up to the number itself. So the simplest example is 6. 1, 2, and 3 divide into 6,

and 1 plus 2 plus 3 equals 6. Next perfect number is 28

because 1, 2, 4, 7, and 14 divide into 28 and

they add up to 28. You might think

they’re fairly common. 6 and 28, you

know, we’re already getting a couple

of perfect numbers. But the third perfect

number is 496. And the fourth perfect

number is 8128. And they get fewer

and further between. I think Rene Descartes

said that perfect numbers, like perfect men, are very rare. And they’re rare,

and they’re special, so they get to be

on the scoreboard. Third number, this is a number

I hadn’t really heard of, a type of number I

hadn’t heard of before I started writing this book. 8208, what’s special about

8208 is, it’s got four digits and so what you do is you raise

each digit to the fourth power. Four digits, so you raise each

digit to the fourth power. 8 to the power 4

plus 2 to the power 4 plus 0 to the power

plus 8 to the power 4. Sorry, let me say that again. 8 to the power 4 plus 2 to the

power 4 plus 0 to the power 4 plus 8 to the power 4. Add those together and

you get back to 8208. So the number regenerates

itself from its own components. It’s kind of in love

with itself and so it’s called a

narcissistic number. And again these

numbers are very rare. There’s less than a hundred

of them that we know of. And the biggest one is that. I think it’s about

39 digits long. And you might want to have

a think this afternoon– because I know the kind of

people you are –why you cannot have a narcissistic number

with more than 39 digits, OK. They’re rare, they’re special,

there’s less than 100 of them. They get to have a special

place up on the score board. So this is the kind of

thing I’m talking about, really niche mathematical

knowledge embedded within an episode for

no particular reason. I had to mention this one. The cinema, the movie

theater in Springfield is called the Springfield

Googolplex Theatre. And I guess this is part of

your history here at Google. So I’ll tell it to you anyway. The googol, of course. Again, you have to

remember, the first time the googolplex appeared

in the Simpsons was back in the early 1990s,

so before the company Google existed. So nowadays people

may have an idea about what a googol

is mathematically, what a googolplex

is mathematically. But when this first

appeared on the Simpsons, nobody had heard of a googol. Nobody had heard

of a googolplex. And so it was a really

in-joke for the mathematicians who were watching. The name googol was invented by

a mathematician and his nephew. The mathematician

was Edward Kasner. And he was going for a

walk with his nephew. And he said, okay– a million’s

got 6 0’s, a billion’s got 9 0’s, a trillion’s got 12 0’s. What do we call a

number with 100 0’s? And his nephew said why

don’t we call it a googol? And that’s where the

name googol came from. A googol is a number

1 followed by 100 0’s. And then the uncle

said, OK, well a googol sounds like a good number. What about a googolplex? What would a googolplex be? And the nephew

thought about that, and he said, OK, that’s easy. A googolplex is 1

followed by so many 0’s that your arm gets tired. Now that’s not very

mathematically reliable, so the uncle said, OK, well a

googol is 10 to the power 100. A googolplex is 10 to

the power of googol. So again, this is a really

mathematical in-joke in “The Simpsons.” Now, who’s putting

these jokes in there? Who’s making these references? Well, that particular reference

was probably made by this chap here. In the back row,

second from the left, is a chap called Mike Reiss. I say probably Mike

because the writing process on “The Simpsons”

is very collaborative, and we’re going

back 20 years now, and so it’s hard to

remember who said what. And people are very generous

in terms of sharing credit. But it was probably

Mike Reiss in this case. I met the “Simpsons”

writers last year and I chatted to all of them. And I met Mike. And Mike’s interest in maths

goes back a long, long way. When he was in the high school

math team, he was very good, he was very strong. He competed against

other schools, competed at state level. He was a very bright, a

very strong mathematician. He was also a very

keen writer and loved comedy, loved comedy writing. So even when he was younger

than that, when he was, I think, 11 or 12, he told me

he went to the dentist one day, and he was waiting

in the waiting room, and he was reading through

“New York” magazine. So, not “The New Yorker,” but

“New York” magazine, and he was looking at the

back page where they have the cartoon

caption competition. And he was looking at the

cartoon caption competition, the dentist came back

and said, oh, look, Mike. I see you’re looking at the

cartoon caption competition. I enter that

competition every month. I always manage to think

of something every month. And Mike said, yes, so do I.

And I’ve won it three times. And he was competing against

TV comedy writers in New York and winning this competition. So he had this talent for

comedy writing and mathematics. Somebody else who was

in the room– in fact, the chap who told

me it was probably Mike who came up with

that joke, was Al Jean. Al Jean, again this is another

high school photo of him in the mathematics team. There he is in the

back row in the middle. Al Jean, another very

bright young mathematician. In fact he was so bright that

he was taken out of– well, he was put into

a special program for elite mathematicians. This was going back to,

I guess, the mid ’70s. And the idea was America

wanted to compete with the Russian elite

mathematical education system. And so people like Al Jean were

hot housed in special summer courses. And he was such a bright

young mathematician, that he went off to Harvard

to study mathematics when he was just 16 years old. So these are really

bright people. Al and Mike met at

Harvard, they left Harvard, they went into comedy writing. They joined “The

Simpsons” They worked on that very first

episode of “The Simpsons” and even in that very first

episode you get mathematics, you get mathematical references. But the interesting

thing is that, if you’re looking at “The Simpsons,”

and if you look at it now and you spot a mathematical

reference– now, you know, you’ll be more eagle-eyed and

more keen to find these things. But if you find a

mathematical reference it could be that the

writer of that episode is not necessarily

an ex-mathematician. Let me explain how that happens. This is an episode

called “Marge in Chains.” Now, you may remember this one. Marge is accused of theft

from the Quik-E-Mart, and she’s put on trial, and

the star witness is Apu. And Lionel Hutz, the attorney,

is trying to discredit Apu and saying to him, you’ve

got a terrible memory. Why should we trust

your evidence? Why should we trust

your witness testimony? You’ve got a terrible memory. And Apu responds by saying, no

no, I’ve got a great memory. In fact my memory is

so good, in fact, I can recite pi to

40,000 decimal places, and the last digit is 1. So he could have said anything. He could’ve said I can remember

the Springfield telephone directory. But he says pi. And he talks about

reciting the digits of pi. Now, there are a couple

of interesting things behind the scenes of

this one simple line that I want to explain to you. First of all, why 40,000 digits? Why was Apu claiming

40,000 digits? Well that was the world record

in 1993 for memorizing pi. So it was a genuine

world record, and Apu claimed to

be able to match it. Sure enough, the

40,000th digit is 1. OK, can’t get that wrong. In fact, you can’t

get that wrong if the writing team

consults a world pi expert. They contacted a guy

called David Bailey at NASA at the time. And David Bailey was a

world authority on pi. And he’d developed something

called the spigot algorithm. When I was at

school, I was always told that if you

want to calculate the fifth digit of pi,

you need to calculate the first, second,

third, and fourth digits. If you want to calculate

the hundredth digit of pi, you’ve got to calculate

single digit before it. The great thing with

the spigot algorithm is that it’s like a tap. A spigot is a tap

and it drips, and it will drip whichever

decimal place you want. So if you want the millionth

decimal place of pi, you just adjust the tap, and

the millionth decimal place drips out. And that’s what David

Bailey invented. And he could’ve just

dripped the 40,000 decimal place, except the

spigot algorithm only works in hexadecimal,

which is not very friendly for a TV audience. So instead of dripping the

40,00th digit in hexadecimal, he sent them all 40,000 digits

in a big package and they could go figure out for themselves. But the other thing I wanted

to explain about this line is that this is one

of those episodes that wasn’t written by

a mathematician. It was actually written

by a couple of people. It was written by Josh

Weinstein and Bill Oakley. And neither of them

are mathematicians. So the question is, why are

non-mathematicians putting math into their episodes as well? And the way this happened

was– I met Josh last year, and he said that

that wasn’t his line. He and Bill didn’t

come up with that line. What had happened was that

they were given that episode to write, they went away

for a couple of weeks, and they wrote the

broad structure of the story, the

key plot points. They put in the key jokes. And then they bring it back to

the rest of the writing team. And the rest of the

writing team will maybe identify the weaker jokes

and take them out, maybe help make some of the

good jokes even better. And it’s at that stage

that around the table there will almost certainly

be one or two mathematicians. And that’s the stage at which

you can introduce mathematics into a script that otherwise

was devoid of mathematics. So in this case

the original script said– Josh dug this

up from his garage, the original script

–Lionel Hutz says to Apu, “So, Mr.

Nahasapeemapetilon, if that is your real name, have

you ever forgotten anything?” And Apu says, “No. In India I was

known as Mr. Memory. I featured in over 400 films,

including ‘Here Comes Mr. Memory.'” So nothing to do with pi. But you can imagine,

around that table the mathematicians

would’ve said, yeah here’s an opportunity to get some

maths in, some mathematics. But it’s also an opportunity

to build up Apu’s back story. Because you may or

may not be aware that Apu is also

a mathematician. If you piece together

different elements from different episodes,

you get his back story. And Apu studied at Caltech. He went to Caltech–

not the California Institute of Technology,

but the Calcutta Institute of Technology. And then after graduating,

he came to America and he studied for a

PhD in computer science from Professor Frink. And he studied at the

Springfield Heights Institute for Technology, which has a

rather unfortunate acronym, as you’ve already spotted. So you get the

mathematics in here because it fits in

with Apu’s background and you can have a

bit of fun with pi. It’s easy to think that

the math in the Simpsons is going to be

linked to Lisa, it’s going to be linked

to Professor Frink, it’s going to be linked

to Apu, the kind of more mathematically-minded

characters. But you find that Homer and

all the other characters often exhibit, or get involved

with, mathematical references. So, for example,

this is an episode called “The Wizard of

Evergreen Terrace,” where Homer tries to

become an inventor. Again, it’s kind of

a freeze frame gag, you’ve got to really look

carefully, because in one scene there’s a blackboard. And on the blackboard

you have– that’s a reference to the

mass of the universe. It’s a science equation. That’s an equation that relates

to the mass of the Higgs boson, mass h 0. And if you work

that out, you find that that predicts a

mass that, I think, is about double the actual

mass of the Higgs boson. But that’s not bad. This was happening 15

years before the Higgs was even discovered. In terms of mathematics,

you get a topology reference down here about the reshaping

of doughnuts into spheres. But you have to nibble at

them rather than twist them. But the one that really

caught my eye– and this is the episode, I

think, that really got me interested in all of this

mathematics in “The Simpsons.” This equation here– a

number to the 12th power plus another number

to the 12th power equals another number

to the 12th power. Now that caught my eye

because the first book that I wrote in the UK was

called “Fermat’s Last Theorem.” In the US, it was called

“Fermat’s Enigma.” And it’s all about this

chap here, Pierre de Fermat, who was a French mathematician. Very, very quickly I’ll

tell you the story. He was studying an ancient

Greek text one day, the Arithmetica by Diophantus. And Diophantus

talked about the fact that there are lots of solutions

to the Pythagorean equation, x squared plus y squared

equals z squared. 3 squared plus 4 squared

equals 5 squared. 5 squared plus 12 squared

equals 13 squared. There are lots of

solutions to that equation. There are an infinite number

of solutions, in fact. But Fermat wondered what

happens if you increase the power to something

bigger than two. So for example, x to the power

of 3 plus y to the power of 3 equals z to the power of 3,

or any power bigger than 2. Can you find any solutions

to any of those equations? Now, Pierre de Fermat

claimed that he could prove, without

a shadow of a doubt, that there were no solutions. He wrote in the

margin of his book, “I have a truly marvelous

proof of this fact. I have a demonstrationum

mirabilum. But this margin is too

narrow to contain that proof. Hanc marginis

exiguitas non caperet.” And then he dropped dead. I Or a few years

later he dropped dead. People found the

book, they said, well, Fermat says he can prove these

equations have no solutions. But he doesn’t tell

us what that proof is. And for 350 years, everybody

tries to rediscover the proof. Eventually a chap

called Sir Andrew Wiles rediscovers the proof. And we now know for a fact

that none of these equations have any solutions. So you will never find a

12 power plus a 12 power equalling a 12 power. And yet that’s what

Homer gives us here. And if you check that,

if you’ve got a phone, you check it on your phone

calculator, that works. So Homer is defying

Andrew Wiles, he’s defying Pierre

de Fermat, because he has found a solution

that seems to work. Now why does it seem to work? Well if you calculate

it more accurately, it’s what’s called a

near-miss solution, because the actual

solution is the following. It’s not 4472, but

4472.000000 dedede dah. So it’s called a

near-miss solution. It’s a solution

that will fool you. It’s a solution that will

fool your calculators. But if you’ve got a

precise calculator, one with a proper long

display, you can find out that it’s a near-miss error. So again this is a lovely

example of one of the writers, in this case, David

X. Cohen, going to the trouble of putting

something in the back of shot, a little gag, a little reference

the lovers of mathematics will spot, will be annoyed by,

and then will have resolved. So it’s just a prank. It’s just a prank for

those who love mathematics. And there’s tons– I’ll just see

how we’re doing for time here. I mean there is tons more. There’s another reference

of Fermat’s Last Theorem in “Tree House of Horror

VI.” “Treehouse of Horror VI” also has references to

Cartesian coordinates, has references to p versus np,

that great unsolved problem. It has references to

Euler’s equation again, has references to

the Utah teapot. It has stuff in ASCII. There’s so much

in “The Simpsons” that you could write a whole

book about it, in fact. So rather than go on about

“The Simpsons” further, I did want to talk about

“Futurama,” because “Futurama” is the sister series

of “The Simpsons” and it has just as much

mathematics as “The Simpsons.” The story here is

that, in the mid ’90s, Fox could see that “The

Simpsons” was a huge success and they asked Matt Groening

to come up with something else. He came up with Futurama. He worked with David X.

Cohen to develop the idea. And David is one of

the guiding lights of the series, worked

on it ever since. And he’s a

mathematician at heart. I think he studied

physics at Harvard then did computer

science, a master’s in computer science at Berkeley. And has then written

mathematical papers. And he loves mathematics. He’s put mathematics

into “The Simpsons” and he’s going to

put mathematics into “Futurama” as well. And he was also keen to

recruit mathematicians to join the “Futurama”

writing team. It was quite important

not to poach writers from “The Simpsons,” so

new writers came on board. People like Ken Keeler, who has

a PhD in applied mathematics. People like Jeff

Westbrook, who was a professor at Yale University. So you had new mathematicians

coming to join “Futurama,” working with David X. Cohen to

create a series which was also going to have tons

of mathematics in it. This is a picture of Ken Keeler. It’s not the greatest

picture of Ken Keeler. But it’s of great

historical importance, because this relates

to an episode called “The Prisoner of Benda,” where

Professor Farnsworth invents a mind-switching machine. And everybody starts switching

minds left, right, and center. And at the end of

the episode everybody gets bored and wants to get

back to their original minds. But the mind-switching machine,

once two people have swapped, they cannot swap back. So the question is this–

given any number of people, given any amount

of mind switching, is there a way to guarantee

that everybody can get back to their original minds? And Ken Keeler developed

a little theorem. And he’s very

modest about it, he doesn’t think it’s a great

piece of mathematics. But it’s an interesting,

fun piece of mathematics. And this is him scribbling

it up on the whiteboard in the Futurama

offices, which is why it’s of great

historical significance. But he was able to

prove that, regardless of the size of the

switching, regardless of the number of switching, if

you introduce two fresh bodies into the room, they provide

you with enough wriggle room for everybody else to

get back to their bodies. So, and I just wanted

to mention this because this is the only example

in the history of television of a writer creating a

bespoke theorem in order to complete a plot. So that’s the extent

of the kind of stuff that goes on in “Futurama.” I’ll just give you one

example from “Futurama,” which is the number 1729. 1729 crops up in “Futurama.” It crops up as the hull registry

number of the Nimbus spaceship. It crops up also as

Bender’s unit number. Bender the alcoholic robot. It crops up in “The

Farnsworth Parabox” as one of the universities

that’s featured. So 1729 keeps cropping up. If it was just the hull registry

number, OK, we can ignore it. But the fact it

keeps cropping up means that it must have some

mathematical significance, given the fact we have Ken

Keeler and David X Cohen and Jeff Westbrook

working on this team. And one reason why

1729 is special is that it’s called

a Harshad number. And Harshad numbers

have this odd property. If you take the digits

of 1729 and add them up, they come to 19. And 19 divides into 1729. And that’s all it has to

be, to be a Harshad number. What’s particularly

special about 1729 is, if you reverse 19, you get

the other factor of 1729. Yeah. That always gets an ooh, that

does, that always gets an ooh. So it’s a very special

type of Harshad number, but in fact there

are four numbers that exhibit this property. So it’s special but

not special enough to justify being cited so

many times in “Futurama.” And the real reason why

1729 keeps cropping up is because of this

gentleman here. This is Srinivasa

Ramanujan, arguably the most talented

or naturally gifted mathematician of

the 20th century. He grew up in southern India,

was from a very poor family– I think his three siblings

all died in infancy. He suffered from

smallpox but survived. His family just about managed

to give him a basic education. He couldn’t get to university,

couldn’t get to college, but still he would

study mathematics by going to the library. And he’d pick out books

and study the mathematics within them. And pretty soon he

wasn’t just studying the mathematics

in these books, he was creating new

mathematics, new theorems. And eventually he

had a whole package of these, about 120

theorems that he’d created. And nobody could understand

what he was doing. And so he sent them to

a professor, GH Hardy, in Cambridge, England. And they arrived

on Hardy’s desk. And Hardy was blown away. He couldn’t believe what

had appeared out of nowhere from an unknown mathematician

on the other side of the planet. And his immediate

reaction was to invite Ramanujan to come to Cambridge. And GH Hardy was a

formidable mathematician. He’s credited with galvanizing

English mathematics at a time when English

mathematics was in the doldrums compared to France and Germany. So he really was spearheading

British mathematics. And yet, he said, if there’s

only one great thing I’ve done in my life, it was to

bring Ramanujan over to England. Because when he came to

Cambridge, he flourished. His genius was recognized. He became a Fellow of the Royal

Society– one of the youngest Fellows of the Royal Society. He became the first

Indian to become a Fellow of Trinity

College, Cambridge. And his mathematical

potential was being fulfilled. Sadly, however, physically,

he was really suffering. The cold weather

really hurt him. He was a strict vegetarian,

he was a strict Hindu, so the diet didn’t

really suit him either. He came down with

tuberculosis, eventually. And he went back

to India and died in his 30s, tragically young. But just before we went back

to India, when he was ill he was in a nursing home

in Putney in South London. And Hardy went to visit him. And Hardy took a train

from Cambridge to London, took a taxi from the

station to the nursing home, went into the hospital,

sat next to Ramanujan. And, struggling to

make conversation, perhaps, Ramanujan

said, what was the name of the

taxi you came in? And Hardy said it wasn’t very

interesting, it was just 1729. And Ramanujan said, 1729? No, that is a really

interesting number. It’s an interesting number

because 1729 is the smallest number that’s the sum of two

cubes in two different ways. Let me just unpack that. 1729 is 10 cubed plus 9 cubed. Now most numbers aren’t

the sum of two cubes, so that’s interesting. 1729 is also the sum of

12 cubed plus 1 cubed. Very few numbers are

the sum of two cubes in two different ways. And this is the

smallest number that is the sum of two cubes

in two different ways. And Ramanujan just knew that. He just plucked

that from thin air. He had a natural

understanding of numbers. He used to say that at

night, while he was asleep, one of the Hindu goddesses

would write mathematical truths on his tongue that would somehow

become absorbed into his brain. And he could just pluck

these things from thin air. And because it was one

of the last conversations that Ramanujan had before

he left to go back to India, and before he died,

that conversation has gone down in history. And 1729 has gone down

in mathematical folklore. And that’s why it keeps on

appearing in “Futurama.” It’s Ken Keeler’s way

of just acknowledging this great genius, Ramanujan. And it’s kind of

wonderful, I think, that Ramanujan, some 100 years

after he started corresponding with Hardy is

remembered in this way, in this sci-fi animated

sitcom called “Futurama.” It doesn’t just stop there,

because you can then ask, OK that number’s the

smallest number that’s the sum of two cubes

in two different ways. You can then ask, well

what number is the smallest one that’s a sum of two cubes

in three different ways? And you end up with

an eight digit number, something extraordinary,

something like 83 million or something. But that number also

appears in “Futurama.” It’s called a taxicab

number of order 3, and it appears as a

taxicab number in Futurama. So I’m going to

stop there, but we do have 10 minutes,

or a bit more, even, if people have questions. I’ve skipped over lot

of things and may not have explained things

in complete detail. So if people have questions, I

think we have two microphones. I’m very happy to try and

answer as many as I can. AUDIENCE: Does this work? Yeah. Hey, awesome seeing you here. It’s actually really awesome,

because I saw you on YouTube before, on Numberphile– SIMON SINGH: Oh, great! AUDIENCE: –talking

about Fermat’s Theorem. So the question was, this

is really cool stuff, and can we look

forward to seeing more of this in a more popular

medium than closed rooms? SIMON SINGH: Oh, well, yeah. I hope so. The book’s been published in

the UK for about two weeks now. And in the UK, the mainstream

press have picked up on it, radio shows have

picked up on it, the tabloid press

have picked up on it. There’s something in the

Huffington Post today. So what’s really nice is,

OK, this is a big thick book, and not many people

may buy the book. Not many people may

come to talks like this. But I think it’ll

get disseminated through all these other media. And I think the writers

are really happy. I called the book “The

Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets,” but it’s

never been a secret. The writers have never

tried to hide this. They’ve just put

it in places where people might not

necessarily look. And I think they’re really

pleased that people are now noticing this. I think one of the

reasons they do this is because they think

of themselves when they were teenagers and how they

loved mathematics. And maybe it was

hard for them to find ways to see other people

loving mathematics. And yet if you’re

a teenager now, and you see “The

Simpsons,” and you notice that there’s a

narcissistic number on there, and you think, hang on,

the people writing this must love mathematics

as much as I do. And maybe it will

make them feel better about their love of mathematics. Thank you. AUDIENCE: Thanks. AUDIENCE: Hi. I had a two part question. The first part is, I assume

that Matt Groening probably has a lot of support

for these kind of jokes and he gives them a

lot of encouragement. And then the second part is, why

don’t other TV shows try and do the same thing? Seeing how popular

“The Simpsons” is. SIMON SINGH: Yes, I

get the impression that Matt Groening,

from the very start, gave writers the

freedom to express their particular interests. So, again from that very,

very first episode– I call it the first

episode, “Bart the Genius.” Bart’s having lunch and

one of the fellow students opens a lunch box, and it’s

there for a split second. But if you look carefully, it’s

an Anatoly Karpov lunch box. Anatoly Karpov was world chess

champion in the early ’70s. Not many people would

necessarily know that. He was also a mathematician–

not many people know that. He also is responsible for

auctioning the most valuable stamp from the Belgian Congo. Not many people

know that either. So that kind of niche know–

But the fundamental rule was, these references must not

get in the way of the jokes, and they must not get

in the way of the plot. And so with the

googolplex joke reference, as I’m fairly sure Mike

Reiss came up with that, somebody around

the writing table said, yeah who’s

going to get that? Nobody’s heard of

what a googolplex is. And I think Mike Reiss

responded, well, yeah, maybe not many

people will get it, but how funny can you

make the name of a cinema? So you haven’t lost anything,

and maybe you gain something. And then, why “The

Simpsons” and why “Futurama”– I have a

chapter in the book about why mathematicians are

involved in comedy. And there are lots of them,

not just within “The Simpsons.” But we have people in the

UK, people like Dave Gorman, people like Dara O Briain. Tom Lehrer, the finest musical

satirist of the 20th century. There is a link between

mathematics and comedy, and I talk about

that in the book. But then I think

I asked Al Jean, but why have you all

congregated here? And there are a couple

of reasons for that. But I think the most interesting

one was, Al Jean said that when you do mathematics– and

he made a distinction between mathematics, and

science, and everything else. And maybe with computer

science as well. That in mathematics

and computer science, whatever you write down happens. Whatever line of logic you write

down, the next line of logic flows. You are in complete control

of what you are doing. As a mathematician and

as a computer scientist. You are in control. Whereas science is messy,

and equipment breaks, and the weather gets

in the way, and you don’t have enough statistics. So maths is pure

and perfect, science is impure and imperfect. Animation is pure and perfect. What you write in your

script will be read. What you draw on your storyboard

will appear on screen. Whereas with live action

comedy, again, you’re dealing with the weather,

you’re dealing with directors, you’re dealing with

actors and so on. So he drew the

parallel– I think his line was, he said that

animation is a mathematician’s medium. So maybe that explains why. Yeah AUDIENCE: Sorry to

break the format. This is not a question,

but just an observation. I wanted to take the opportunity

to say thank you for your work with the protecting the right

of authors and individuals to present their opinions. The Defamation Act this year,

and of course, the BCA lawsuit. So thank you. SIMON SINGH: Thank

you very much. Just a bit of background

in case people don’t know. But I mean, people like

to think of England as a kind of land of justice

and fairness and free speech. But we still actually

have, as of today, really quite harsh libel laws. People from all over the

world would come to London to sue for libel. It was the libel

capital of the world. You’d end up with

Danish newspapers being sued by Icelandic banks. Ukrainian oligarchs suing

Ukrainian newspapers. All in London. Ridiculous. Saudi billionaire sued a

New York author in London. And it got so bad that

your President actually brought in a law that said,

if you’re an American, you get sued in London,

your assets are safe. Because we have

so little respect for English law

in terms of libel. And that was really

important because it actually helped us begin to

change our laws. I got sued for libel, as

did a few other people who were science writers,

health writers. And people just thought

it was ridiculous that you can’t write about

science without being sued for libel. It was ridiculous. In science, the

way we move forward in science, and

many other areas, is through robust

argument and debate. Anyway it took a few years,

but eventually, we now have a new defamation

act, Defamation Act 2013, which is much more reasonable. And that will become law,

literally in the next week or two. And what was really

great about that was, it was very much a

grassroots campaign. Because bloggers were

getting sued for libel, getting threatened with libel. Local newspapers,

online newsgroups. We have an organization in

Britain called Mumsnet, where parents share their experiences. They were getting

threatened with libel. It was ridiculous. The only problem left,

once this law becomes law in the next week or two,

is Northern Ireland. Because Northern Ireland still

isn’t updating its laws yet. And that could become the new

libel capital of the world. So you might find yourself

being dragged to Belfast if you say something which

somebody doesn’t like. But thank you very

much, thank you. AUDIENCE: That guy kind of

stole my thunder a little bit. Thanks for coming and

I’ve read all your books. I read “The Code Book” twice. Great book. But I think the most

important book you’ve written, in my humble opinion,

is “Trick or Treatment.” if I was king of the world,

I’d make everyone read it. And I’m curious to

know, are you still active in the science-based

medicine community? Do you do anything, are there

any plans to update that book? SIMON SINGH: Yeah, thank you

very much for your kind words. So my backgrounds in physics. That’s what I study,

that’s what I love. Maths is kind of the same kind

of thing, so I love maths. I love writing about that. But I ended up writing this

book about alternative medicine because– couple of reasons. One was, I had

heard about students going on their gap years. Before going to college,

they’d travel around the world. And they would use homeopathy

to protect themselves against malaria. And I couldn’t

believe this was true so I asked a young student

to go to 10 homeopaths. And she said, I don’t like

using conventional treatment. Can you give me something

that I can use instead? And 10 out of 10

homeopaths said, here, use these sugar pills. And her story was

that she was going to go to West

Africa for 10 weeks on a truck tour, where there

are strains of malaria that will kill you within three days. And there are examples of

people that use homeopathy and who came back to Europe

and suffered multiple organ failure because

of severe malaria. So I was shocked that

fairly bright young people were being taken

in by homeopathy. So I sat down with a professor

of complementary medicine, in fact. But a very rigorous

scientist, what we call evidence-based

medicine is what he follows. And so he’s been examining

alternative medicine for the last 10 years. And the alternative

therapists hate him. Because sometimes he finds

something that works, and he’ll say that, because

he’s a good scientist. But often he’ll find

things that don’t work, which aren’t backed

by evidence, and which might even be dangerous. So the alternative

therapists hate him. He was the world’s

first professor of complementary

medicine, and they said, if you’re a professor

of complementary medicine, you should be championing

complementary medicine. And he says, well, look, if I

was a professor of toxicology, I wouldn’t be

championing toxins. It’s not how it works. So he and I, we

wrote a book which looked at all the different

alternative therapies. And one or two of them

work, and we say that, and most of them don’t. Some of them are

particularly dangerous. It was after writing that

book that I wrote something in a newspaper that that’s

why I got sued for libel. And I still occasionally write

about alternative medicine and support one

or two groups that are involved in challenging

alternative medicine. So for example, right now

we’ve got a horrendous magazine in Britain called “What

Doctors Don’t Tell You,” and you can buy it

in your supermarket, you can buy it at

newspaper outlets. And it essentially says that

doctors have got secrets that they’re not telling you. And we’re going to tell

you the real truth. And it’s just full of clap

trap, and dangerous clap trap. And people believe what’s in it. So we’re currently

talking to people to say– and again, I’m very

pro free speech. So if supermarkets want

to stock it and sell it, I can’t stop them. And I shouldn’t be able

to ban them from doing it. But I want these supermarkets

to know what they are selling. So that they’re aware

that, if they generally have a policy of

promoting good health and supporting their

customers in giving them proper information,

then do they really want to be stocking

this magazine? That’s their choice. But it’s one that I would

caution them against. So I’m still involved with

those kind of campaigns and those kind of issues. So yes. Thank you very, very much. If people do have

more questions, I’m going to be here

for five or ten minutes. So please do come and say hello. And thank you very

much for coming. Thank you.

This is genius!

lovely man.

isn't he from numberphile?

Numberphile brought me here! (not really, but I probably wouldn't have watched if I did not see Numberphile videos first)

What's with the guy eating soup in the audience?

I bought and read the book "The Simpsons And Their Mathematical Secrets", and it is so good. Simon does touch the best important aspects of the sitcom The Simpsons and mathematics.

NUMBERPHILE

41minuted and 27 seconds just ain't enough on this vid : Relativistic effects non-withstanding (if that means anything :P)

is he saying all alternative medicine is dangerous? just because there's one extreme example (the malaria student) doesn't mean it's all bad. i mean, if you have a terrible diet and someone tells you to change and eat vegetables and then when you feel better you won't attack him/her for giving you such advice and for not having the necessary education level you expected him/her to have.

Simon was in Oslo University last friday. He is a brilliant genius but on top of it, he is a really really nice guy, very down to earth and very humble. Totally unlike those other authors and writers with fake salesman type smiles!

Simon singh #legend

I would never fall asleep in class if he was my professor. This guy makes math actually sound interesting to me.

There is a big mistake!

He never mentions INTEGRAL SOLUTIONS when taking about Fermat's Last Theorem! (maybe he was oversimplifying for the audience)

I knew what a googleplex was as a kid…

Of course, I also knew how to count in binary, and hex, and the ascii codes.

But I still can't remember what six by eight is.

snortThe question and answers session was more interesting than the subject of the video, lol.

"Homeopathic treatments"

It's good to see someone other than James Randy going on attack against these mountebanks.

I don't know if it it of any relevence, but I noticed that the name of Tabitha : "Vixx" (about the first personne you spoke of) is in reverse XXIV that is 24 in greek's mathematical system ^^

Cool Sikh dude, as 99% of them are assholes so i'm impressed with this chap. Most interesting.

This is boring

Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead, and King of the Hill) also has a degree in physics

If David x Cohen was one of the writers for the simpsons and a mathematician and he also wrote futurama does that mean there is math in futurama too

"I'll sue you in England!"

Most of the things that people were laughing about weren't jokes. I don't understand why everyone is laughing for nothing.

It's amazing how this guy actually looks like a Simpsons character 🙂

I knew what a googleplex in 1990.

He was really stretching on 8208. This is the kind of "special" property that G.H. Hardy described as having "nothing in them which appeals to the mathematician".

Does anybody know why you can't have a narcissistic number with greater than 39 digits?

The Daily mail will have you believing it was the theorem for the Higgs Boson lol, Google it, it made me lol.

Just read the book about this. I highly recommend you read it, really interesting

Bored writers were playing around with their math hobby. big deal.

1729 is also a taxi cab number

I like Simon Singh, really loved his Big Bang book, bur seriously, who gives a FUCK… about the simpsons and the maths shit in it? ffs write something we can learn from man. I hate rubbish like this.

Simpsons are really good for the education oft childten.

You learn something about politics, history, science and the USA

I read Sights book last year.

It is a very good

Why 12 dislikes?

Pupils hating math?

I want to buy him a new suit, tailored…

YOUTUBE: "9/11 Hidden in hollywood" watch every part

Hi Talks at Google =)

Thank you for taking the time and effort to both upload and share this video with the youtube family =)

I hope you have a lovely day, Talks at Google =)

Kind Regards

Raymond Lai

What's with all the shady propaganda at the end?

wynik równania to 777

bet bert bet bet what is the probability get out of my office non comp | random 1 Pi

Excellent talk. I wish he could have gone on into a little longer and covered other Simpsons mathematical secrets.

he looks like 30 he is 50

Forty minute video about Simpson and mathematics of which first ten minutes are about Simpsons and out of which five minutes are regarding mathematics and rest of the video is worship some Indian guy.

Can this guy explain why the Simpsons hasn't really been funny since the year 2000?

I don't know if I can ever take a man in his mid 40's with a comedy haircut seriously. He's way to old to be experimenting with such a radical teenage hairstyle

it's just a prank bro

So you're saying that a lot of the hidden messages in shows and songs are actually subliminally teaching me something and not trying to make me join the illuminati???

22:10 — back to their minds , back to their bodies

this makes for a great philosophical debate – what makes you a you? If the mindswapping/bodyswapping was possible, who (which entity – the one of my mind and the other body, or the one of my body and the other mind?) would be given my rights? (for example my name, my house, my wife (that would also depend on her, of course, but from the legal point of view, she would first have to divorce with the new entity that gained my rights and then marry to the other entity… whatever))

If this is ever possible and there is a vote on that, I vote that the entity with my mind should be the one gaining my rights.

The Code Book is one of those books that reads almost like a textbook, you learn a lot from it at an applied level, it's the only book I've ever finished as an adult. And then my cat peed on it. I should get another copy.

Look at the tooop of his heeeeead

so some writers on the show studied mathematics and they put math references into the show? i watched this whole thing thinking that there was some unique mathematical concepts used in designing…. i dunno, the plots of the episodes or the way characters appeared, or maybe some unique math used to create the simpsons universe as a mathematically sound parallel universe or something. i was left asking 'and….? your point is?'

there are lots of fucken nerds that write the simpsons

brilliant

You could say that people who like mathematics appreciate the humour of numbers, so it would be natural for them to appreciate and point out subtle and not so subtle humour in other things too. And the man did a completely different calculation, and this time the answer wasn't 142857. Nah, just kidding; it was 142857.

Is the African tribal haircut supposed to have some modern day significance? Considering his hair and clothing, one must wonder if he is in possession of a mirror. This guy gives new meaning to the phrase "attention seeking device."

24:12 How do you spell that name? edit found it. Srinivasa Ramanujan

i enjoyed the video, Thanks you Simon

So, what's the answer for tonight's attendance??? I'm guessing "B" since it involves couples. Justification: "A" is an odd number, meaning someone is there unescorted, and "any 'narcisissm' probably isn't good for a couple," so I exclude "C," but "B" is even, so it's at least possible noone is unescorted, which would be "perfect."

A normal conversation

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/threelly-ai-for-youtube/dfohlnjmjiipcppekkbhbabjbnikkibo

Back to the future was the first time I heard of a googolplex.

Dogh