Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Hypothetical Z-Axis

There's a good, but hardly complete Science News article on the use of mathematics in The Simpsons and Futurama, surely the brainiest cartoons in the history of television.

Astonishingly enough, I was just explaining to someone the other day what "taxicab numbers" were. (Short answer: "taxicab numbers" are the smallest number that can be written as the sum of two cubes n different ways. Find out why they're called "taxicab numbers" here -- it's actually one of the better stories in the history of mathematics.)

I had forgotten the joke about the two robots' serial numbers, but if I remember, there's another joke about Bender being robot # 1729 (sure enough, I found it at this Wolfram site about taxicab numbers).

By the way, "Taxicab Numbers"? Great name for a band. Right up there with Mouthfeel.

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