Christopher Bray

The Sumpsons

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets


Bloomsbury 253pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

One day in August 2005 two fans of The Simpsons were invited along to a read-through of a forthcoming episode. Maths professors Sarah Greenwald and Andrew Nestler enjoyed things well enough, but the show’s writers weren’t altogether happy with their script. Good though the baseball-centred ‘Marge and Homer Turn a Couple Play’ was, it didn’t have any jokes that specifically tickled their guests’ fancies. A brainstorming later, it was decided that the show should climax with the scoreboard at the ballpark being used for a competition. How many people, the crowd was asked to guess, made up the night’s attendance: A) 8,191; B) 8,128; C) 8,208; D) No way to tell? Pleased with their amended script, the writing team emailed Greenwald to thank her and Nestler for coming by: ‘It really did light a little fire under us.’

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,