Homer Simpson, star of Fox network's legendary show “The Simpsons,” is known for many things. Fans of the show would no doubt recognize him as a lazy, incompetent father who sleeps at work, and snacks on donuts and drinks “Duff Beer” while sitting on the couch watching television at home. However, according to Simon Singh, a popular science author who wrote the book, “The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets,” Homer -- the epitome of cartoonish gluttony -- might just be a mathematical prodigy.
“The Simpsons is the most mathematical TV show on prime-time television in history,” Singh told The Independent. “A lot of the writers on The Simpsons are mathematicians.”
And according to Singh, among Homer's many mathematical achievements, there’s one that stands out. In a 1998 episode titled “The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace,” Homer “almost predicted” the mass of Higgs boson -- the so-called “God particle” whose existence was confirmed, in 2013, after painstaking experiments carried out by an international team of scientists at the CERN in Switzerland.
In this particular episode of one of the longest-running TV shows, Homer is shown standing in front of a blackboard scribbling a complicated equation, as he attempts to follow in the footsteps of Thomas Edison and become an inventor.
“That equation predicts the mass of the Higgs boson” Singh reportedly said. “If you work it out, you get the mass of a Higgs boson that’s only a bit larger than the nano-mass of a Higgs boson actually is.”
The existence of the Higgs boson, an elementary particle that has a mass of approximately 125 GeV (gigaelectronvolt), was first predicted in 1964 by physicist Peter Higgs. Under the standard model of physics, the particle is believed to provide mass to all other fundamental particles.
“It’s kind of amazing as Homer makes this prediction 14 years before it was discovered,” Singh reportedly added. Moreover, over the course of its 26 seasons, the show has also introduced abstruse concepts such as Fermat’s Last Theorem, perfect numbers and Mersenne primes. Mathematics, it seems, is woven into the very fabric of the show.
All this begs just one question -- how long before Homer Simpson is awarded the Nobel Prize?