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Simon Singh reveals secret maths in Simpsons at Archway festival

PUBLISHED: 15:30 10 October 2014

Simon Singh takes a closer look at the Simpsons

Simon Singh takes a closer look at the Simpsons

Archant

The mathematical secrets of the Simpsons will be uncovered in Archway this month as every geek's favourite blows the lid off of the world's most popular cartoon.

Front cover of book released in SeptemberFront cover of book released in September

Simon Singh, who penned best-selling reads Fermat’s Last Theorem and The Code Book, will host Numbers Night For Nerds alongside fellow writer Alex Bellos as part of the ArchWay With Words festival.

Mr Singh will be talking about his new book, which reveals how the writing team behind the world’s most successful cartoon are bristling with maths degrees and the show subtly contains enough mathematics “to form a university course”.

Numbers Night For Nerds is just one of several highlights of the second instalment of the ArchWay With Words festival, which will see a number of local authors showcase their talents alongside illustrious visitors.

Mr Singh, whose new book came out last month, said: “I always loved the Simpsons and like so many others, watched it and enjoyed it.

“Then, 10 years ago, I watched an episode called ‘The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace’ which relates to Fermat’s Last Theorem, a problem I’ve written about, so it obviously stood out.”

Calculus

After doing some digging Mr Singh found out that David X Cohen, who wrote the episode had a masters from Berkeley, California, in computer science and several other writers of the show had prestigious maths backgrounds.

When writing his book he spent a week with the team behind the show doing interviews and his since appeared with them at several events.

“They all love maths and they’ve all ended up on the Simpsons expressing their love for maths through the show.

“Even in the first episode of the modern format of the show there’s a joke about calculus that you would only get if you understand calculus.

“They also often refer to aspects we all know and love like Pi, [which Homer Simpson is a fan of].

“I think initially it was just for their own amusement but as maths fans started to notice and show appreciation they started putting stuff in just for the nerds.

“They’re reaching out to people a bit like them, showing them that you can like maths and still be cool.”

Mr Singh and Mr Bellos, whose own maths hit Alex Through the Looking-Glass was released in April, will appear at 7pm at the Archway Methodist Church on October 17.

ArchWay With Words kicks off today with several events each day until October 24, including an appearance from Rastamouse creator and star of last year’s festival Michael de Souza.

n For more information on what’s on go to archwaywithwords.com

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