MATH ON TV

FUTURAMA mentions the Banach-Tarski Paradox!
In the June 23, 2011 episode Professor Farnsworth invents
a

Banach-Tarski-Dupla-Shrinker
which takes a blueprint of an object (like a sweater or Bender) and some matter and then
produces two smaller but otherwise identical copies of the original.
The real Banach Tarski Paradox takes one object and produces two of the exact same type.
The writers might have felt that was just a little too weird.
See

here for a full
description of the episode. The episode aired on thursday, and today,
Tuesday, a full description is on Wikipedia.
This surprised me (so fast!)
but did not surprise my great nieces and nephews.

LAW AND ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT had its last episode Sunday June 26, 2011,
thus ending a rather long running show which was part of a rather
long running (and still running) franchise.
Here is the whole list:
Law and Order (1990-2010, 456 episodes),
Law and Order: Criminal Intent (2001-2011, 195 episodes),
Law and Order: LA (2010-2011, 22 episodes),
Law and Order: SVU (1999-2011, 272 episodes, and still going),
Law and Order: Trial by Jury (2005-2006, 13 episodes),
Law and Order: UK (2009-2011, 26 episodes, and still going).
456 episodes is HUGE!
Check out

this list of long running
TV shows. The list is only updated once a year
This surprised my great nieces and nephews (so slow!) but did not surprise me.

I recall three episode of Law and Order:Criminal Intent that mentioned math.
I am sure there are more.

In the episode

Bright Boy
there was a school for gifted children in math that
tried to get 10 year olds to work on the Riemann Hypothesis.
It was not clear if they wanted them to solve it as children (which seems absurd)
or as adults later in life (not absurd but a real long shot).
The reason I find it absurd that a 10 year old could solve RH is that
cleverness and brilliance is not enough- you have to actually have learned
a great deal of math, perhaps too much for a 10 years old to have learned.
Problems that need lots of KNOWLEDGE
really can't be solved by bright 10 years olds or amateurs, no matter how brilliant they are.
(See

here
for a post of Lipton's about of when amateurs helped solve math problems.)
Getting kids interested in math by having them work on RH is the opposite
of using Math competitions. Lance and I discussed math competitions as a way
to interest kids in math

here.
Which is better? Even if you get bright pre-high school students working on
problems, having them work on RH would just lead to frustration.
Are there math programs that have student work on real open problems?
How about phony open problems (the mentor knows the answer ahead of time).
Some REU's do this for College students, but is there anything like this
for High School Students?

The episode

Inert Dwarf
involved a brilliant physicist who, for medical reasons, was
in a wheelchair (modeled vaguely after Stephen Hawking).
One point of interest: he had a password that was

*based on hard physics and hence uncrackable.* Gee, I thought that you just need to make
sure your password is (1) not a word in any language
(2) long enough, and
(3) used Upper Case (easy for ME), lower case, numbers, and punctuation symbols.
Unless it was some sort of quantum system (the episode did not indicate this) I can't see
how hard physics can make a password uncrackable.

In some episode this season (I forget which one)
Goren (the detective) was given the following riddle by his psychologist:

*There are two doors and two guards. One of the doors leads to heave, the other to hell. One of the guards
always tells the truth and one always lies. You get to ask one guard one question and then you
must pick a door.*
Goren is supposed to some sort of genius who also knows a great deal of stuff
so I'm surprised he didn't know it.
In the last episode of the entire series,

To the boy in the blue knit cap,
he answers it correctly. I think that was supposed to be symbolic or meaningful or something,
but I didn't see why. (Bad writing? I'm being dense?)
(ADDED LATER- ACTUALLY GOREN ASKED THE PSYCHOLOGIST THE QUESTION WHICH MAKES
MORE SENSE IN TERMS OF WHO-KNOWS-WHAT.)

*Bright Boy* and

*Inert Dwarf* had the same problem that many TV shows have:
If the real world fact do not make the plot work, the writers change the real world facts.

Numb3rs did this with Math quite a lot.