Why is Homer viewed as mysterious

Homer, the secret math genius

The episodes of the cult series "The Simpsons", of which the 25th season is already running in the USA, are bursting with hidden mathematical phenomena. The writers built in the first tribute to mathematics right at the beginning of the very first season. Sprout Maggie sucks on her pacifier and plays with letter building blocks.

6 voices for 105 Simpsons characters

As she stacks the stones to form a tower, the viewer sees the series of letters EMCSQU. In the original English-language sequence, the last three letters stand for "squared", in German: in a square. So on Maggie's building blocks it says: E = mc2. High math.

Harvard-educated authors

British author and science journalist Simon Singh has now revealed what sounds a bit mysterious and above all rather nerdy: The Simpsons - for many an expression of exaggerated simplicity with a good dash of yellow color - bring us closer to mathematical phenomena and problems in their own way. And that more than a hundred times, writes Singh in "Homer's Last Sentence - The Simpsons and Mathematics".

The writers of the US cult series are responsible for the involuntary math lessons the evening before. Many of them, such as Al Jean or Jeff Westbrook, studied math or computer science at Harvard, some up to a master’s degree or even a doctorate.

In photos from the 80s, many of the series writers look so much like the clichéd mathematician that the nerds of "The Big Bang Theory" would look like cool sunny boys next to them.

Prime numbers and donut universe

The Simpsons have long been considered more than just a cartoon and the longest-running TV series of all time. Philosophers, social critics, psychologists, all these clever minds discovered hidden details from their field of expertise in the Simpsons.

So now the mathematicians. Sometimes Homer Simpson explains the shape of the universe using a donut, sometimes Springfield's most talented boy Martin Prince finds a formula for the relationship between closeness to the teacher and nonsense. "The potential for nonsense is inversely proportional to the spatial proximity of an authority figure."

Prime numbers have guest appearances just like the number pi, and then Homer supposedly solves the mystery of Fermat's last theorem. Even succinct exclamations in the dispute between Homer (“I will not be infinite”) and neighbor Ned Flanders (“Will you be infinite plus 1”) hide mathematical phenomena.

Mathematical background noise

Such a high quality of mathematical humor is not even found in the nerd sitcom “Big Bang Theory”, says mathematics professor Volker Kaibel. The 44-year-old professor at the university in Magdeburg, Germany, has given several lectures on mathematics at the Simpsons.

"The Simpsons are a real work of art," says Kaibel. “In Big Bang Theory, the joke pulls out of playing with the cliché of the physicist or mathematician. At the Simpsons, a lot of jokes are hidden inside gags. " Much rushes past the audience without affecting the plot. Most of them do not notice it.

Despite the hidden math jokes, the Simpsons aren't an educational TV for Kaibel. "The Simpsons makers do not realize an educational claim."

Nevertheless, the math problems shown are sometimes highly complex. “These are not trivialities that you can just carve out of your finger. An incredible amount of work and love from the producers goes into this. " In order to have Homer almost solve the Fermat sentence, producer David X. Cohen even wrote a PC program especially, according to a legend in Singh's book.

"I'm swollen everywhere"

The Halloween short story "Homer3" is particularly legendary among mathematicians. In it, the head of the Simpsons accidentally stumbles out of his flat world into three-dimensionality.

“In it, the mathematics is more sophisticated and elegantly integrated than in any other episode,” writes Singh. Homer, meanwhile, troubles the third dimension in a completely different way: “I'm swollen everywhere. My stomach protrudes eerily. "

It is unclear why the Simpsons makers do this unnecessary work for the plot. Cohen says, “When you work for television, it's easy to get dissatisfied with what you're doing because you're contributing to the decline of society. If you then have the opportunity to raise the level of conversation - and especially to praise the math - that makes up for the days when you have to write jokes about body functions. "

(L'essentiel Online / jcg / sda)

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