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The Futurama Theorem

In case you missed it, Futurama was recently resurrected from beyond the television grave, and this summer it began airing new half-hour episodes on Comedy Central. Although it’s never reached the height of popularity achieved by its older sibling, The Simpsons, Futurama nevertheless has its own share of dedicated fans. Many of those fans appreciate the differences between this show and The Simpsons, the most obvious of which is the former’s futuristic setting and sci-fi influences.

The setting of the show naturally lends itself to math and science jokes, and in this department Futurama does not disappoint. Last week, however, they seriously stepped their game up a notch, by featuring the proof of an original mathematical result as a central feature in the plot of the story.

The mathematics evolves quite organically. In the show, Amy and Professor Farnsworth have created a mind-switching device, which can swap . . . → Read More: The Futurama Theorem

Top Chef Mathematics

If you like food, Washington DC, hubris, or reality television, then chances are you are a fan of Bravo’s cooking competition Top Chef. Every year the show takes a group of aspiring chefs, places them in a house in a new city, and throws weekly challenges their way. Following the Survivor template, every week one chef is voted off, and at the end someone is crowned Top Chef (and given a large check). This season, the action takes place in our nation’s capitol.

Now, a show such as this might seem to have very little to do with mathematics. But look, and ye shall find. In the second episode of this past season, the chefs were paired up for one of the challenges. There were 16 chefs at the time, combining to make 8 pairs. The pairing was determined by drawing knives: 16 knives were . . . → Read More: Top Chef Mathematics

The Twilight Saga: A Mathematical Perspective

Living in Los Angeles, it’s hard not to be aware of the fact that the new Twilight movie, Eclipse, arrives in theaters today. The series has developed an insatiable fan base of people willing to spend thousands of dollars to fly here in the hopes of scoring tickets to the premiere, which certainly indicates the film will be a success. But of course, the film’s success was never in question: with the first two movies having grossed over $1 billion worldwide, the success of this latest entry in the franchise is a foregone conclusion.

Of course, the success of this franchise should not be viewed in isolation, but as just a part of the larger vampire pop culture renaissance. HBO’s True Blood, also based on a book series involving a girl who knocks boots with the undead, is going strong into its . . . → Read More: The Twilight Saga: A Mathematical Perspective

Math on TV: Halls Refresh

If you’ve watched any television recently, you may have noticed the following ad for Halls Refresh. I strongly encourage you to watch it, even if you’ve seen it before, because it’s basically fantastic.

A tremendous ad, to be sure. However, if you didn’t watch closely, you may be wondering what such a sensual commercial has to do with mathematics. Watch again if you missed it – it may help to watch it full screen, although the quality gets muddy.

Did you catch it the second time? When the camera cuts to the Asian kid sitting at his desk, right before he starts to charm Mrs. Hunter, you’ll notice that he has a poster on his wall filled with mathematics. There are 5 equations on the poster, but most are probably too difficult to make out from the Youtube copy. I was fortunate enough to see this ad on television, and . . . → Read More: Math on TV: Halls Refresh

Math on TV: Look Around You

With the weekend close upon us, no doubt many of you are looking forward to a reprieve from the work week. The more popular among you may even have some engagements lined up. Even for those of you with “friends” or “hobbies,” however, there always comes a point when the evening begins to come to a close.

Suppose it’s late and you’re looking for a good time. Temptation runs rampant in the midnight hour of a Saturday night, especially for those of us in the fast-paced world of graduate school. But before you open that bottle, or pick up the phone to talk to live singles in your area, let me take the opportunity to inform you of a new way to spend your time during the late night wind-down: starting this weekend, you will be able to relive your childhood through the nostalgia-inducing satire that is Look Around You.

. . . → Read More: Math on TV: Look Around You

Math on TV/Math Gets Around: Brooke Knows Best

Recently, I found myself thinking of mathematics in an unlikely set of circumstances: while watching VH1′s latest “Celebreality” show, Brooke Knows Best. I realize that an admission like this may be embarrassing, and so it is for the sake of your edification, dear reader, that I am willing to go on the record with this deliciously shameful information.

For those of you who may not know, the titular character is the daughter of Santa with Muscles star and All-American hero, Hulk Hogan. In the show, Brooke lives in an expensive looking condo in Miami, goes to the beach, and sings her own theme song. This is about as much as I know. I swear. For those of you who are curious, the following video gives a good sense of what this show is all about.

VH1 TV Shows Music Videos Celebrity Photos News & Gossip

Did you . . . → Read More: Math on TV/Math Gets Around: Brooke Knows Best

Math on TV: Numb3rs

You knew it had to be coming. Any self-respecting individual interested in the intersection of math with popular culture must, at some point, discuss the canonical element of said intersection: CBS’s own crime solving math show, Numb3rs. The use of the 3 is to eliminate any ambiguity surrounding the subject matter of a show called “Numbers.”

Since premiering in January of 2005, Numb3rs has been a consistent performer for CBS, in spite of (or because of, depending on your assumptions about the makeup of the show’s audience) its Friday night time slot. For those of you who may have never seen the show, the following synopsis should help give you some perspective: Body counts, multiple criminal masterminds, and perpetrators who are likely to act again … this is the world of NUMB3RS. FBI agent Don Eppes (Rob Morrow) couldn’t be more different from his younger brother, Charlie (David Krumholtz), a . . . → Read More: Math on TV: Numb3rs