Friday, September 7, 2012

The Big Count


“I came from a place where two plus two equals four,” Bill Clinton remarked the other night at the Democratic National Convention.
 
Math is a mutha.
 
Remember the TV show of a couple of years ago where the set-up was an FBI agent and his mathematical whiz kid of a brother would team up to solve vexing cases using number formulas and such? Numb3rs it was called and co-creators Nick Falacci and Cheryl Heuton wanted to do a show that featured mathematicians and scientists. They were inspired by the late Richard Feynman, the famous physicist from Caltech out here in Pasadena, California.  Feynman was known for being quirky but accessible in how he broke down complex concepts for the lay person.
 
The pilot of the show was based on a Canadian cop with a Ph.D.in mathematics who figured out the possible locations of a serial rapist by studying where his crimes took place and developing a pattern analysis.  In the show and in real life, the criminals were caught. 
 
Neither I nor my protagonists are good with numbers.  Or sure, they can count a stack of ill gotten cash or know how many rounds a semi-auto Remington shotgun holds, but higher mahr, forget it.  You always knew that even though algebra abd trigonometry didn’t figure into the Arthur Conan Doyle plots pitting Holmes against Moriarty, the two of them could easily while away time between their mental and physical bouts solving this or that math problem just to keep their minds engaged.

While my private eye Ivan Monk uses a few more syllables and brain cells than say than say Shell Scott, I’m pretty certain each of these cats would be stumbling and mumbling if they had to explain the difference between a linear versus a quadratic equation.

Night school it is for my PI after a hard day or questioning people, maybe fending off getting stabbed with a knife or bonked in the head with a hammer.  Hopefully he wouldn’t be too worn out and not fall asleep in class.  As for my more crooked characters, well, they might brush up on their math skills ot better figure out some sort of stock manipulation scamt or really do a public service and break down the voodoo math Wall Street uses and discover where they’re hording Main Street’s monies.

Okay, I’ve got to go now and count with the Count from Sesame Street…one, two, ah, ah, ah.
 

2 comments:

Meredith Cole said...

You bring up some excellent points about why we need more mathematicians on the police force and in politics, Gary!

The Count was always one of my favs on Sesame Street... Was very sad to hear Jerry Nelson, his puppeteer, died August 25th.

Gary Phillips said...

Meridith, I didn't know he'd passed. That was the day after my birthday.