The Corner

Re: Futurama

Jonah: That is a retread of one of the hoariest old math anecdotes. Srinivasa Ramanujan (great Indian mathematician) was dying of TB in a hospital, and G.H. Hardy (great English mathematician) went to visit him. At a loss for a conversational opening, Hardy remarked at random that the license number of the taxi he’d ridden in was 1729, and that this seemed a pretty nondescript number. Ramanujan: “On the contrary, my dear Hardy! That is a most interesting number! It is the smallest number that can be expressed as the sum of two cubes in more than one way!”

It’s one cubed plus twelve cubed, and also nine cubed plus ten cubed, see?

For more on Ramanujan, see Robert Kanigel’s excellent book about him. For more about Hardy, see my own Prime Obsession.

The high point of my TV career remains that episode of Jimmy Neutron where Jimmy and Carl, fleeing for their lives from a man-eating lima bean, exchange some remarks about the Riemann Hypothesis, stating the noble conjecture in precisely the words I use in my book. That is sufficient glory, and I rest serene.

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Ten Questions for the ‘Squad’

Democratic infighting reached a fever pitch last week with bickering and personal attacks between members of the “Squad” and other House Democrats. During that period, Squad members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley mostly avoided doing interviews. However, that all ... Read More

Who Is Boris Johnson?

By next week at this time, Boris Johnson will be prime minister of the United Kingdom. Not since Margaret Thatcher has such an outsized personality resided in Number 10 Downing Street. Not since Winston Churchill has such a wit presided over Her Majesty’s Government. Wit is actually the chief reason for ... Read More
Health Care

For Planned Parenthood, No Doctors Need Apply

Poor Leana Wen. She took Planned Parenthood’s propaganda a little too seriously. And now she’s out of a job. For the longest time, Planned Parenthood has insisted that it’s a health-care organization, and it only cares about abortion — supposedly a tiny share of its business — insofar as it’s a ... Read More