How Homer Simpson Predicted The Higgs Boson Before Physicists

Wednesday, 04 March 2015 - 4:24PM
Physics
Weird Science
Wednesday, 04 March 2015 - 4:24PM
How Homer Simpson Predicted The Higgs Boson Before Physicists

He's the intellectually-challenged patriarch of one of TV's most famous families, but could it be that Homer Simpson predicted the details of one of Physics' greatest mysteries years before the experts? In the 1998 Simpson's episode, 'The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace', Homer can be seen standing before a chalkboard with a complex mathematical equation on it, and in the new book, The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, it is revealed that, that equation actually comes incredibly close to predicting the mass of the Higgs Boson particle, 14 years before its discovery.

 

(Credit: Fox)

 

""That equation predicts the mass of the Higgs boson"  author, Simon Singh, told The Independent. "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. It's kind of amazing as Homer makes this prediction 14 years before it was discovered."

 

So just how did such a momentous equation come to be on a donut-eating buffoon's chalkboard? Singh reveals that it was actually all just a bit of a lark. Simpsons script writer, David X. Cohen had contacted an Astronomer friend of his at New York's Columbia University, asking if he could provide an equation to put on the board. Between the two of them , they opted to have a bit of fun with the work which was being carried out to try and predict the mass of the particle, which even at that point, had long been theorized, but not discovered. It just so happens that their work was surprisingly accurate.

 

"If you look up these numbers and plug them into the equation, it predicts a mass of 775 giga-electron-volts (GeV), which is not unreasonably higher than the 125 GeV estimate that emerged when the Higgs boson was discovered in 2012," said Singh. "Indeed, 775 GeV was not a bad guess bearing in mind that Homer is an amateur inventor and he performed this calculation fourteen years before the physicists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, tracked down the elusive particle."

 

This is just one of many examples of The Simpsons' surprisingly mathematical background. Throughout its epic history, The Simpsons has regularly referenced complex mathematical theories, and it's all down to the fact that many of the people who have worked on the show possess academic backgrounds in math-related fields. For example, Cohen studied Physics at Harvard and secured an MSc in Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley, while Al Jean attended Harvard from the age of 16 and graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Mathematics.

 

Personally, I prefer to remember Homer Simpson for this particular moment of brilliance..

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