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Simon Singh offers fascinating new insights into the celebrated television series The Simpsons: That the show drip-feeds morsels of number theory into the minds of its viewers - indeed, that there are so many mathematical references in the show, and in its sister program, Futurama, that they could form the basis of an entire university course.
Recounting memorable episodes from “Bart the Genius” to “Homer3,” Singh brings alive intriguing and meaningful mathematical concepts - ranging from the mathematics of pi and the paradox of infinity to the origins of numbers and the most profound outstanding problems that haunt today’s generation of mathematicians. In the process, he illuminates key moments in the history of mathematics, and introduces us to The Simpsons’ brilliant writing team - the likes of David X. Cohen, Al Jean, Jeff Westbrook, and Stewart Burns, all of whom have various advanced degrees in mathematics, physics, and other sciences.
Based on interviews with the writers of The Simpsons and replete with images from the shows, facsimiles of scripts, paintings and drawings, and other imagery, The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets will give anyone who reads it an entirely new mathematical insight into the most successful show in television history.
If you could sum up The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets in three words, what would they be?
If you like mathematics, The Simpsons, and Futurama, you will likely enjoy this book -- but mathematics is not a good topic to convey through audio.
If you’ve listened to books by Simon Singh before, how does this one compare?
I have not listened to or read any other books by Simon Singh.
What three words best describe William Neenan’s performance?
British. Accented. Disconnected. I have written very few audible reviews, but I was motivated to do so mostly because I disliked aspects of the performance. I am not a nationalist or chauvinist, but I was taken aback by a book on American cultural products (The Simpsons and Futurama) being delivered in a British accent and by someone who apparently is not familiar with this source material. (I realize that the author is British, so it is questionable for me to object in this way.) It bothered me to hear Edna Krabappel's last name mispronounced. No fan of the show would do so. The author is a fan of the show, but the performer apparently is not. In addition, Euler and Knuth were mispronounced, so the performer is apparently not familiar with mathematics, either.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
My main reaction to this book was that it was a terrible idea to listen to (rather than read) a book with so much mathematics.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
A fine book, but any book that relies so heavily on the PDF should not be made into an audio book.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
This was tons of fun to listen to. The only problem with the book is that it's not long enough. I wanted him to keep going.
Even if you are not into mathematics, I think you will enjoy this if you are a fan of the show.
It's also quite interesting as the author goes into some detail about the history behind each mathematical "secret" he covers.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
Great read for amateurs in math. I have always had an interest in math - but I never bothered to read about the many theorems associated with it. This book is a great "stepping stone" into university level mathematics. Great job to the author in linking Mathematics in the Simpsons to more profound ideas.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Math and the Simpsons what a mix. This is eye opening. My wife, who is not mathematically inclined, hates the show. Now I know why and will have to secretly start watching reruns of it.
I really enjoyed the book. It gave a good overview of many areas of mathematics, and the funny ways they were incorporated into the Simpsons.
It does lean pretty heavily into the pdf companion, though. I guess this is somewhat to be expected since there are freeze frame gags that make sense only as a visual joke.
I think other books like How Not To Be Wrong do a better job of adapting to audio narration. There are so many times when the narrator rattles off 10 to 20 digits of pi or other numbers. No one needs to hear that. The most egregious example was when comparing two sequences of digits to approximate pi. The narrator should have just said the second number was the same except the last digit, but instead I had to listen to a torrent of meaningless numbers.
Despite its faults, I think it is still worth a read. I enjoyed hearing the back stories of many of the writers, and the mathematics was covered well enough to help understand more of the humor in the series.
A really fun and engaging listen. Good for listening when you're in the study or in the car. The downloadable PDF was very nice visually. lots of little factoids about the Simpsons that you might not know and very interesting stories of the writers and producers. slightly high level maths for general readers but entertaining nonetheless
My father can listen, knowing that he is not the only mathematician that likes the Simpsons. Some even contribute!
This is another great book by Simon Singh, though it's let down by poor narration.
The book itself is very interesting. Simon Singh has a deep understand of maths and The Simpsons. Mathematical concepts are put across in an easy to understand and fun way. I learned a great deal about maths and The Simpsons from it.
But there are a couple of things that spoil it as an audiobook.
The biggest problem with the audiobook is William Neenan's flat and lifeless narration. He makes no attempt to convey the humour in the book. He reads the jokes with the same drone he uses to read through umpteen decimal places of pi. Also, beware if you're the sort of nitpicking Simpsons fan annoyed by the mispronunciation of "kwyjibo". It's a shame the book isn't narrated by Singh himself.
The other, more minor, problem is the need for a PDF. When I'm listening to an audiobook it's not usually convenient for me to read a PDF. Sometimes you don't lose anything by looking up a reference later. But other times the diagrams are completely necessary for understanding the book (such as the diagrams in the explanation of Archimedes' method of approximating pi).
By the way, for those of you who came here to the product page to download the PDF as the book told you: it's not here. It's on your "Library" page.
Overall, I'd recommend giving the audiobook a miss and reading the book instead.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Is there anything you would change about this book?
The narrator - the monotone was very off putting and made it a struggle to listen - even though I am very interested in the subject matter.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets again? Why?
No.<br/>One time is just enough.
What did you like best about this story?
A fantastic and interesting read which was interesting from cover to cover.
What about William Neenan’s performance did you like?
This is not an easy book to narrate. And yet, the narrator did a very good job.
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
The Simpsons' theorem.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Excellent book, highly recommended for any fans of Simpsons and Futurama who also have an appreciation for the mathematical subtleties underlying both series. I walked away from this with a much deeper appreciation for the series and the writers. The author also does an excellent job in providing historical context and significance for each of the references.
However, I wish there were an easy way to download the accompanying pdf of book excerpts on my phone, since the narrator refers to these throughout the book. This of course is not an issue with thr book itself, but rather the App.
The narrator does a fine job, but occasionally butchers the pronunciation of some prominent names.