Examining the secret square root of D'oh!

  • Updated: February 1, 2014 - 5:22 PM

Did you know that Homer Simpson disproved Fermat’s last theorem?

He did, or so it seemed, when he scribbled “3987(12)+4365(12)=4472(12)” in a 1998 episode of “The Simpsons.”

If Homer is right, then he proved that the 17th-century mathematician Pierre de Fermat was wrong in stating that x(n)+y(n)=z(n) has no solution when x, y and z are positive whole numbers and n is a whole number greater than 2.

As author Simon Singh shows in “The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets,” math is built into the show’s DNA. Perhaps the most surprising revelation is the composition of the show’s creative team, which has included J. Stewart Burns, who has a master’s in math from Harvard; David X. Cohen (master’s in computer science, Berkeley); and Ken Keeler (Ph.D. in applied math, Harvard) and Jeff Westbrook (Ph.D., computer science, Princeton), who was an associate professor at Yale before he joined the team.

new york times

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