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The new CBS show Numb3rs

  1. Jan 24, 2005 #1
    I don't know about you, but this show was a real disappointment. It tried to be a CSI remake with mathematics, but they glanced past the mathematics for the most part, making it pale and uninteresting.

    Equations would fly by the scene but the equations would be fictictious and non-relevant to the situation. Conceptually the producers of the show might know of applications of the math... but as for knowing it... anyone's guess. They should have the main actor be a mathematician or at the very least, hire one as an advisor. I saw no calculus (which would have fit at least some of the situations regarding a few parabolic trajectories and map area) during the duration of the show. They seemed rooted in Algebra II land.

    The only thing I recognized in the strange, creepy, overcomplicated equations were sigma from the summation formulas and a few thetas with some variables, and a scattered |x-x1| on the board. No attempts were made by the character or through his interactions with others what the different variables mean. Most of the time it was just him saying "I can calculate that" and "got it" as he scrambles to his brother with maps.

    The supposed mathematician, even though he is supposed to be the main character, shows up far less often than his crime-solving brother. His counterpart physicist is portrayed as a bumbling fool who doesn't do his own math, and get this, is working on a "super-gravity theory" :uhh:(!! red flag)

    The mathematical portion was supposed to be the most refreshing part of the crime scene thing, but the network executives probably had to dumbify it down to please the masses (who probably don't like math anyway). Perhaps my expectations were a little too high, but darnit I thought it was a show about math! I'll watch the next show and take notes... see if they reuse their equations :biggrin:.

    Anyone want to vent their views over this show?
     
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  3. Jan 24, 2005 #2

    JasonRox

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    My problem is people like you expecting something good out of CBS.

    You know your smarter than that.
     
  4. Jan 24, 2005 #3
    When I first saw the preview for this show I laughed. A show about math, please, nobody would watch it, there is no way cbs could be that stupid. I guess from what you said it was hardly about math at all, which means it may last longer than I thought. I may watch the next episode to just see for myself.
     
  5. Jan 24, 2005 #4

    Evo

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    I've never heard of it. I just checked tv guide online and here is part of the review "This was a pretty good show, especially the extra graphics and effects used to make deadly boring math mildly interesting." :rofl:

    I'm sorry motai, but if tv guide thinks the math is real, all America thinks it's real. :biggrin:
     
  6. Jan 24, 2005 #5
    Aaah the horror! The reviews were probably written by someone who failed Algebra I several times!

    ...then again, I think i'm in the minority opinion when it comes to these things.

    TV guide is evil. The extra graphics weren't that good. The math is better. Pah.
     
  7. Jan 24, 2005 #6

    JasonRox

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    These kinds of shows are made so that the average person "feels" smarter.
     
  8. Jan 24, 2005 #7

    Moonbear

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    I haven't heard of it either. Guess it's that good, huh? Sadly, if you know enough about science, all of those shows lose their credibility. There are plenty of scenes in CSI that are just as unrealistic. I just enjoy laughing at scenes nobody else thinks are supposed to be funny. I enjoy the show, but am probably one of the few who thinks it's a comedy. :biggrin: Sometimes it's in the minor details, like they never seem to have gloves that fit while trying to prepare a wet mount of something, and then what they "see" under the microscope is always hysterical.
     
  9. Jan 24, 2005 #8

    Astronuc

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    I heard about the show on an NPR program, Weekend Edition, last Saturday. You can hear the interview at - Math and Crime-Solving by the 'Numb3rs'. Hit the 'Listen' button and select RealPlayer or Windows Media.

    Weekend Edition - Saturday, January 22, 2005 · Weekend Edition math specialist Keith Devlin talks about the new CBS crime series Numb3rs.

    Apparently the producers hired a 'real' mathematician (from Caltech or possibly Stanford) to make 'real' equations. Since I really don't watch TV, I haven't seen it.
     
  10. Jan 24, 2005 #9

    Evo

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    And that mathematician was probably screaming at the tv throughout the entire show "that's NOT what I wrote down!" "Where the hell did that come from?" because some set designer took the numbers and symbols and made them "look" better by mixing them up. :rolleyes:
     
  11. Jan 24, 2005 #10

    Astronuc

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    You are so skeptical. :biggrin: Haven't you heard of reality TV? :rofl:
     
  12. Jan 25, 2005 #11
    This only adds to my conclusion that humanity is too stupid for its own good. I mean really. How am i suppsoed to be civil to people that are stupid enough to buy into that kind of crap?

    grumble grumble....
     
  13. Jan 26, 2005 #12

    Ti

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    The equation Charlie creates is the same equation successfully used in a serial rape case in Louisiana.

    Prof. Gary Lorden created all the other equations used in the show and approved them before airing.

    Numb3rs is a network TV show. It's a crime procedural.

    But it's also a math show. A math show in the sense that it really wants to get the general public to think about the role of mathematics in their lives -- and how fundamentally important it is to our society, culture and scientific understanding of the world around us.

    We're giving it our best shot.
     
  14. Jan 26, 2005 #13
    Numbers is a TV show, its number 1 priority is to entertain, not to give a lecture on mathematics. people on this forum take the show a little too seriously with regards to the math involved.
     
  15. Jan 26, 2005 #14

    For some of us, mathematics are our living (in one way or another) of course we'll take such things seriously.
     
  16. Jan 26, 2005 #15

    Moonbear

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    Really, it's not worth getting all worked up about a TV show, especially one that is intended to be fiction. If they were doing a documentary on math and scrambled the equations, then that would be a problem.

    Now that you guys mentioned the show, I guess my ears have been tuned in better to hear others talking about it. Apparently shows like CSI have made science seem "cool," and even if it takes a lot of liberties with how forensics is done, it gets the average person to realize science is something important. It seems that with Numb3rs, they are trying to do the same thing with math. People aren't supposed to learn math from the show, just start realizing it's a cool thing that has a lot of really important uses so they might be more willing to learn it or encourage their kids to learn it.
     
  17. Jan 26, 2005 #16
    I watched it myself, since it's been hyped at Caltech (also wanted to see what parts of the campus they used for the shots), and it was right after the NFL playoff game. I thought it was entertaining enough, and didn't really find issue with it. However, I don't watch CSI - so I don't know if this show is a stale rehash.

    I am curious how they'll manage to incorporate more math into future episodes before it gets either too goofy or too repetitious.

    Honestly, I hope the show works out. Promoting math to the general public, even in a dumbed down fashion is a good thing.

    Was kind of bugged/confused at the end when the single-node solution worked out (the guy moved), even though the dual-node solution was also shown to be correct. It seems to me like those solutions should be mutually exclusive.

    Question is: where can I find hot grad students like the one the math prof is advising?
     
  18. Jan 26, 2005 #17

    Nereid

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    But just as science isn't 'really' about the specific 'results' (e.g. XYZ's Theory of ABC), but the method, perhaps these TV shows aren't 'really' about {insert what you'd like them to be about, or not}.

    The shows have to sell, so there must be a story (dramatic tension, sex scene, resolution, whatever) ... and catching 'perps' (is that what they're really called?) is always good viewing (drama, justice, gore, violence, ...). Maybe it isn't 'about' math at all, that's just a plot device, with the added advantage that it shows how math benefits society and the individual (I'm guessing there's a 'drop dead gorgeous chick' somewhere among the cast) ... so math can be cool?

    Or maybe it's just problem solving, and next we'll have one with electrical, civil, aerospace, etc engineers as the heros.
     
  19. Jan 26, 2005 #18
    The theme of the first one, I thought, was about using probability to find the serial killer. So there was a discussion of lottery tickets, baseball players being due, finding the location of a water sprinkler based on the location of the drops, and "random" distributions of people in a room.

    So now that they've kind of exhausted (in my mind) the whole probability theme, what other sorts of mathematical topics are left that would be really applicable to crime-fighting? I'm not sure, though I haven't thought very hard about this.

    The brother of the FBI agent is a math prof at a research university in Pasadena (didn't want to use the name Caltech for some potential legal reasons, I believe). So - I expect that math, as opposed to engineering, will always dominate. I don't expect this show to head in the direction of McGuyver.
     
  20. Jan 26, 2005 #19

    BobG

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    That's only because of bad packaging.

    If Math Is Hard were on the show, with her net stockings, high heels, HP-35 calculator, and her Post Versalog made of Hemmi bamboo, the viewers would love Math. :tongue2:
     
  21. Jan 26, 2005 #20

    Moonbear

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    They're all studying neuroscience! You should see the students around here! Sure, we have a few geeks and dweebs around, but we've got quite a few drop-dead gorgeous ones around too (of both sexes). I actually think it's about time we started sending our students out to high schools to talk about neuroscience, because it really would shatter the image of the mousy, scrawny student with geeky glasses and ill-fitting clothes.
     
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