When it comes to mathematics, there aren’t necessarily that many popular figures to really look up to. If you mentioned Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein in a schoolyard, you might get the odd one or two blank faces rather than excited inspiration. It would be even worse if you listed out the most recent winners of the Fields medal, because Elon Lindenstrauss, Ngô Bao Châu, Stanislav Smirnov and Cédric Villani have definitely not gone on to become household names. However, when it comes to the cartoon world, there are more than a few mathematical geniuses be inspired by.
Comic books are literally filled with them. Both Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark are just ordinary men to begin with, without any real super power of their own to help them fight their battles. However, thanks to their mathematics, engineering and scientific genius, a little inheritance and a heroic outlook on life they’ve been able to become Batman and Ironman, two of the most iconic characters in comic book history. There’s no way the Batmobile or Stark’s famous flying metal suit could have been invented without a good understanding of the maths, so straight away we have two big characters to look up to.
It’s the same situation for The Incredibles’ Buddy Pine. Growing up without any super powers meant that he had to turn to science and maths to invent the technology that would allow him to become Syndrome, emulating the super heroes he wanted to become. Admittedly, his villainous stance on world domination doesn’t make him much of good example, but you’ve got to respect what he managed to achieve with the help of a few numbers and symbols. He was rich beyond his wildest dreams, owned a massive mansion on a tropical island and had a very attractive right-hand woman in Mirage. Just think about what he could have achieved if he turned his mental skills to good. It worked out all right in the end for Gru from Despicable Me!
It’s not just super heroes though that make for good inspiration for a mathematics loving outlook. Take Wallace and Gromit, for example. They get into all sorts of great adventures because of their inventor antics. Being able to program a pair of trousers to walk for themselves is no mean feet and would take a pretty sophisticated understanding of computational mathematics.
Grown ups aren’t the only cartoon math genius characters to be inspired by either. There’s also a good list of animated kids that use their mathematical skills to do some pretty incredible things. Elroy Jetson is only 6 ½, but he still manages to be an expert on space sciences and astrophysics. Jimmy Neutron is just 10 years old and he’s got an IQ of 210, managed to invent a space ship and make a satellite out of a toaster.
Dexter is pretty young too, but he still manages to have his own Bat Cave-like laboratory. If only he could just get over the annoyance of his sister and his childhood nemesis, Mandark, maybe he could go on to be as prolific as Batman when he grows up.
That should give you more than enough cartoon genius fuel for inspiration, so the next time you’re stumped over a quadratic equation or puzzling over algebra homework, remember what you can achieve with a little bit of math.
About the author:
This guest blog post was written by Gerard Harris, editor of entertainment news website, Tuppence Magazine.