Friday, March 28, 2008

Living in a Nerd Paradise: Futurama

After Thursday's discussion I got to thinking about other topics of interest connecting literary analysis with mathematics. The collective mathematical knowledge of the Futurama writers is overwhleming, this website has a list.

Math is woven into Futurama's subtlest jokes. Bender's Apartment number is 00100100, which when translated into ASCII, is the $ symbol. (Click here for an entertaining binary to text translator)

There's an evolving joke centered around the Hardy-Ramanujan number, named for an anecdote in which mathematican Hardy interprets his taxi-cab # as "rather dull" and perhaps a bad omen. To which Ramjen pointed out that the number, 1729 is in fact an interesting number, as it is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two positive cubes in two different ways. In the Futurama movie the number of the taxi-cab Fry rides is also a 'taxi-cab' number: 87539319 = (167)^3 + (436)^3 = (228)^3 + (423)^3 = (255)^3 + (414)^3. The full explanation of this and other 'metaphorical flexions' of the Futurama-crew's math knowledge is here.

According to David X. Cohen, co-developer of Futurama with Matt Groening, "The number on Al Gore's cab in that scene also has a secret meaning." This bit of insight is from an article from WIRED magazine about math-in-Futurama that can be read here. This article delves into the connection between Futurama writers and their audience, citing the 99% rule as: 99 percent of the audience won't get these jokes, but those that do will greatly appreciate them.


kdl63 said...

That is awesome! I know exactly what episodes you were talking about, but never picked up on those things. I saw bender's apt. # but didn't know that it translated into $, so fitting.

Lucia said...

That is beautiful. I have actually never seen Futurama, so now I am even more curious about it. Did you actually notice some of these things when you watched it?

Alyssa said...

I wouldn't and didn't notice any of these things first-hand, but my brother, excited every time he notices one, tells me all about them.

Brian M said...

Wow, this is great! I've watched a lot of episodes and have never realized these subtle jokes. I'm glad I can be part of the 1% that actually understands these jokes now.

Jay said...

Yet more evidence that futurama is genius. Also how awesome would it be if your middle initial were X.