The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets: Simon Singh
September 29 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pmFree
Glasgow Skeptics are proud to host this special event in association with European Researchers’ Night:
Simon Singh, author of Fermat’s Last Theorem and Big Bang, delves into mathematical themes hidden in The Simpsons.
Everyone knows that The Simpsons is the most successful show in television history, but very few people realise that its team of mathematically gifted writers have used the show to explore everything from calculus to geometry, from pi to game theory, and from infinitesimals to infinity. Singh will also discuss how writers of Futurama have similarly made it their missions to smuggle deep mathematical ideas into the series.
About the Speaker
Simon Singh is a science writer, and Chairman of the Good Thinking Society.
His books include:
- Fermat’s Last Theorem – The theorem’s initial conjecture and eventual proof
- The Code Book – A history of cryptography
- Big Bang – Models for the origin of the universe
- Trick or Treatment? – Alternative Medicine on Trial ( (with Edzard Ernst)
- The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets
In 1983, he was part of the UA2 experiment in CERN. In 1990 Singh joined the BBC’s Science and Features Department, where he was a producer and director working on programmes such as Tomorrow’s World and Horizon. There he was introduced to Richard Wiseman through their collaboration on Tomorrow’s World. At Wiseman’s suggestion, Singh directed a segment about politicians lying in different mediums, and getting the public’s opinion on if the person was lying or not.
He directed his BAFTA award-winning documentary about the world’s most notorious mathematical problem entitled “Fermat’s Last Theorem” in 1996. The film was memorable for its opening shot of a middle-aged mathematician, Andrew Wiles, holding back tears as he recalled the moment when he finally realised how to resolve the fundamental error in his proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem. The documentary was originally transmitted in October 1997 as an edition of the BBC Horizon series. It was also aired in America as part of the NOVA series. The Proof, as it was re-titled, was nominated for an Emmy Award.
On 19 April 2008, The Guardian published Singh’s column “Beware the Spinal Trap”, an article that was critical of the practice of chiropractic and which resulted in Singh being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA). The article developed the theme of the book that Singh and Edzard Ernst had published, Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial, and made various statements about the lack of usefulness of chiropractic “for such problems as ear infections and infant colic”. A “furious backlash” to the lawsuit resulted in the filing of formal complaints of false advertising against more than 500 individual chiropractors within one 24-hour period, with one national chiropractic organisation ordering its members to take down their websites. Simon won the case and this resulted in a change of libel law in this country.
This is event is free to attend, although we will be asking for donations at the end of the talk. Participants are under no obligation whatsoever to donate, however please rest assured that the money we collect doesn’t end up in anyone’s pocket – it is used to fund our overhead costs, and travel/accommodation for our speakers who come from further afield.
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