Friday, February 04, 2005

Numb3rs Review: "Vector"

This episode had very little math, except a reference to a standard model of disease spread called an SIR model.

I have to say that the writers spent a lot more time getting the math details right than getting the biology right. Why on earth would you compare geometric structures of DNA, when you could just look at the sequence ? My wife the biologist had two comments on this, her first episode.
  • "This is not a TV show, it's a horror movie"
  • "I've been beaten senseless"
(as an aside, she refused to watch Jurassic Park when it first came out). She also assures me that the pictures of the DNA model are wrong (the alleged differences would be on the inside of the helix, not the outside). They did mumble something about RNA, but RNA wouldn't look like the pictures they had on screen.

There was an amusing incident with the eccentric string theorist where he forgot which way he was headed. I could be wrong, but I think this refers to an anecdote involving Herman Weyl at Princeton.

There was more Numb3rs PR in the math press. Keith Devlin (the Math Guy) had an interesting article on Numb3rs at MAA Online. He does an occasional segment on Weekend Edition with Scott Simon. His interviews make for interesting listening (a recent one was on the continuum hypothesis).
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