Customer Reviews


86 Reviews
5 star:
 (53)
4 star:
 (23)
3 star:
 (6)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars HOMER'S SECRET MATHS
This is Simon Singh's latest book. Previous offerings include "Fermat's Last Theorem" and "The Code Book".

Many may be quite surprised to discover that there lies embedded in The Simpsons cartoon series a chunk-full of mathematics. What is not generally known is that several of the writers on The Simpsons are in fact respectable mathematicians. These writers...
Published 10 months ago by Jet Lagged

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars A fairly standard maths popularisation book.
A collision of the genres `books which explain something by reference to The Simpsons' and `"wow, isn't maths great!" for people who dropped maths at school'. As such, it works well enough but doesn't have a lot to distinguish it from the dozens of other such books on the market.

The best bits are the end of chapter `tests' in which Singh has complied...
Published 2 months ago by Mr Nobody


‹ Previous | 1 29 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars HOMER'S SECRET MATHS, 13 Oct 2013
By 
Jet Lagged (From the above image, obviously somewhere that does dodgy haircuts.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets (Hardcover)
This is Simon Singh's latest book. Previous offerings include "Fermat's Last Theorem" and "The Code Book".

Many may be quite surprised to discover that there lies embedded in The Simpsons cartoon series a chunk-full of mathematics. What is not generally known is that several of the writers on The Simpsons are in fact respectable mathematicians. These writers have been, covertly or otherwise, smuggling maths into the episodes since the very beginning of the series. It's all been part of the fun. It doesn't interfere with the plot but it is mathematically amusing.

Now somebody, author Simon Singh, has spilt the beans. Singh took the trouble of going to L.A. to meet with the show's writers for this, his latest book. He found a writing team dedicated to inserting funny mathematical gags in the Simpsons' episodes. He then joined all the dots of this phenomenon and put it all together here for the reader.

Typically, he takes an episode of the Simpsons and locates any maths in it. Then he fleshes it out by giving the background to the maths mentioned therein. And he talks about the specific writers who came up with the idea. And what their mathematical interests are.

He also writes about the Futurama series. The same writers who have worked on The Simpsons have also worked on its sister series too.

Two mathematical examples will suffice:-

1. As early as the second episode of the first season, "Bart the Genius", a mathematical joke is featured involving the derivative of (y^3 )/3, where the "^" symbol stands for "to the power of" (You will have to get in touch with your inner geek to fully appreciate the joke.) Also in this episode Maggie amusingly makes E=Mc^2 with her pile of play bricks.

2. In another episode the screen at the baseball game gives 3 different numbers for the attendance figure. These numbers just happen to be 8191, 8128, 8208. These numbers are certainly not random.

8191 is a Mersenne prime.

And 8128 is a Perfect number. (It is in fact the fourth perfect number. The preceding three are 6, 28 and 496). A Perfect number is a number whose divisors' sum equals the number itself.

For example, 6 has three divisors 1, 2 and 3. (We don't count 6, the actual number itself, as a divisor).
And 1+ 2+ 3 = 6. The next Perfect number, 28, has the divisors 1,2,4,7, and 14. Similarly 1+ 2 + 4 + 7 + 14 = 28

Perfect numbers are quite rare - so 8128's appearance tells you something is afoot. (The next, fifth, Perfect number is eight digits long).

And the third number on the big board is 8208 - what is called a narcissistic number.

There are four digits in it - 8, 2, 0 and 8.

And 8^4 + 2^4 + 0^4 + 8^4 = 4096 + 16 + 0 + 4096 = 8208.

(Again, I'm using "^" for "to the power of". Example 8^4 = 8x8x8x8 ).

The number seems to be self absorbed or in love with itself. Hence the term "narcissistic number" is applied to it.

I would guess that the odds of these three numbers appearing together like this, at random, would be approximately nil.

So the next time you see Homer doing something at a blackboard, other than drinking Duff beer, pay attention!

Amazon Update 6th November 2013:-

One thing bothered Singh however. He could not figure out the significance of the number of the Simpson's house:- 742, Evergreen Terrace. What was the big deal with the number 742? When he finally asked the creators of its significance, they told him "Simon, it's just a number!"

But I respectfully disagree. Perhaps it is a mathematical Freudian slip, but 742 reversed is 247. And we all know that "24/7" (spoken as "twenty four seven") is an abbreviation which stands for "24 hours a day, 7 days a week". With the popularity of the Simpsons series could the significance of 24/7 be more obvious? There is always an episode of the Simpsons on somewhere, morning, noon or night.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good., 7 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets (Hardcover)
Although I have not been a Simpsons fan, watched not more than half a dozen, I found this book a really good read. It is not so much about the programme, but about the mathematics and mathematicians involved. If you don't feel the beauty of mathematics, then it won't be for you. If you do, then it will be very enjoyable.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars A good book, 10 July 2014
By 
K. Singh (Hertfordshire) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets (Hardcover)
The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets by Simon Singh
Until I read this book I was unaware of the sprinkling of mathematics in the Simpsons.
The book discusses the mathematicians on the writing teams of the Simpsons and Futurama. I must say that I was surprised to learn that most of the writers on these programmes are graduates or postgraduates of mathematics or physics.
It is an excellent book for a layman as all the mathematics is explained in detailed.
My reservation is that the book is a series of detached mathematical stories whose only common theme is that these stories appeared in the Simpsons or Futurama. Also these mathematical stories are so common that if you have read any mathematical popular book you would have come across them. So nothing new here.
However I do think any serious mathematics student should purchase this book as it provides good motivation to study mathematics at undergraduate level.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Very Fun, 20 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you are a fan of the Simpsons they you see a ton of maths throughout the series but probably haven't given them much of a glance, this book opens up each of the mathematical examples found in The Simpsons and explains them in clear language and manages to give you background to each problem a delight from both Simpson fans and maths fans.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars A fairly standard maths popularisation book., 14 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A collision of the genres `books which explain something by reference to The Simpsons' and `"wow, isn't maths great!" for people who dropped maths at school'. As such, it works well enough but doesn't have a lot to distinguish it from the dozens of other such books on the market.

The best bits are the end of chapter `tests' in which Singh has complied lots of maths jokes.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Not what one expects., 21 May 2014
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A fascinating book about the incorporation of maths in the Simpson Programmes.

A very enjoyable read but you would want to enjoy Maths to appreciate it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Runs out of steam, 18 May 2014
By 
GVI Gary (Devon, England) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I like Simon Singh. I love Maths. I love The Simpsons.
For a while, this is an interesting and engaging idea, but sadly he just didn't have enough material for a whole book. I don't mind that Singh branches off into Futurama - it's from the same stable, that's fair enough, but I do mind the repetition. You know those TV programs (usually reality or makeover shows) where they start off by showing you clips of what they're about to so, then about every 10 minutes they show you what they've just done. or what's coming up? It's a bit like that.
There's good stuff here, but stretched too thin, and it starts to grate.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 11 May 2014
By 
Fiona Wynn "Cyzaki" (Shropshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets (Hardcover)
A mixture of maths and The Simpsons, how can anyone not like this? Well worth a read even if you like The Simpsons but don't like maths - everything is explained really well.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars A joyous read, 25 April 2014
By 
S. Meadows (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets (Hardcover)
First he studied quarks. Then he battled quacks. Now he looks at quirks.

From the outset, one gets the impression that this was great fun to write. Maybe it was even more fun to write than it was to read. The basic premise is that a lot of the scriptwriters of The Simpsons are highly scientifically literate and that throughout the many years that the show has been broadcast there have been a number of gags that rely on an understanding of maths.

Singh has spoken to a number of the creators of The Simpsons in order to ascertain whether the theories of some of the earliest discussion boards on the internet, like some UseNet groups were right when they analyzed various episodes, as well as to get an insight into the creative process that goes into creating one of the most successful television programmes of the last 25 years.

What then proceeds is an exploration of some of the more fun aspects of maths. Those who have read a lot of recreational maths may struggle to find much that is new here, but what is presented is done so clearly, with great humour and evident enthusiasm. One will not be surprised to find discussions here on prime numbers, pi and Fermat's last theorem. To those familiar with the concepts, this is like meeting an old friend in a bar. You may have heard their stories before, but they are fun to be around nonetheless.

Some of the links between the maths and The Simpsons can be a bit tenuous at times. Some other reviewers have commented on this, but I wouldn't be too critical on this point. The book is more about maths than The Simpsons, with the latter being a springboard from which Singh dives; and rather elegantly at that.

Yet The Simpsons isn't the only springboard used. Approximately 2/3rds of the way through, we start to look at another of Matt Groening's creations, Futurama. The book, though, keeps the same format and uses this to look at a greater range of issues, which was possible because Futurama was ostensibly more sci-fi than The Simpsons.

In this part of the book, we get treated to one of my favourite tales from the history of modern maths: the meeting of G. H. Hardy and Srinivasa Ramanujan, talking about 1,729 (though Singh fails to note that if you get hold of a mathematician's debit or credit card, 1729 would be a good guess for the PIN!). If you haven't heard of those two people or the number 1,729 means nothing to you, then please do buy this book.

Although the book is excellent, it does have a few flaws. For starters, it is littered with typos. The other main criticism is that Singh doesn't seem to grasp that maths is a branch of science, instead implying that science and maths are two completely different disciplines. One might demonstrate with this quote from page 45: "...scientists have to cope with reality and all its imperfections and demands, whereas mathematicians practice their craft in an ideal abstract world." As a mathematician, this is a view I profoundly disagree with, not least given the very simple fact that mathematics departments are typically located with the faculty of science at any university.

I've followed the fortunes of Simon Singh for a few years now. His books on Fermat's Last Theorem (which crops up here) and on code breaking have both proved popular and critical successes. In recent years though he has been the subject of libel proceedings and has become something of a world-weary figure after his long legal battle with the British Chiropractic Association and his subsequent work in libel reform. Early on in the book I got the impression that this was a book to signal that he had moved on and was now back to enjoying work and that this was a breath of fresh air. This impression was deepened after a sly reference at the start of the book notably using the word 'bogus' that had gotten him into so much trouble in the first place. If there was any doubt, though, it would be thoroughly dispelled in the acknowledgements at the end of the book where he takes time and space to thank those who have supported him and his campaigns.

It's a coda which indicates the more serious aspects of science to which the main content of the book is the joyous, trivial flipside. I look forward to seeing what he writes next. If it is as good as The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets, it will be well worth a read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Good read for Mathematicians, 25 April 2014
By 
P. J. Gilbert - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets (Hardcover)
I bought this as a present for a mathematician who found it an entertaining read and would recommend it to others..
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 29 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets
The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets by Simon Singh (Hardcover - 10 Oct 2013)
12.91
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews