Each episode of *Junior Maths*, a British children's TV program that was part of ITV Schools, featured a story about "The Mad Mathematician". For example, in this episode (currently available on YouTube), the Mad Mathematician momentarily ponders the problem of how much water would need to be added continuously to the king's tub to keep it full when its drain is unplugged. More importantly, he also must draw balloons using only straight lines to avoid being decapitated.
Based on the few I've seen, there's not a lot of fiction and only elementary math in these stories, but there seem to be some people who are nostalgic for this show that may well have helped some viewers see the beauty and importance of mathematics. The show may actually be even more fondly remembered for its unusual incidental music by Ron Geesin. In fact, that is how
Wladislaw Leszczewski found out about it and brought it to my attention as an example of mathematical fiction. Thanks again, Wladislaw!
If there is anyone out there who remembers this show and has seen more than a few episodes, please write to tell me more about it. I'm especially interested in knowing how the mathematician deserved the epithet "mad". Was he supposed to be *crazy*? If so, how was this manifested? Or, was he "mad" in the sense of angry. (Being threatened with death if one cannot draw balloons using only straight lines seems like sufficient cause to be angry, in my opinion.)
I have only written "ITV Schools" as the creator of this work of mathematical fiction rather than listing the individual names of those responsible. In part, that is because I am not really certain who wrote the Math Mathematician segment. If you'd like to know more about the people responsible for creating Junior Maths, you can watch this YouTube video including the full credits from one episode. |