Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Mathematics of Jimmy Neutron

The Mathematics of Jimmy Neutron-Sheva Apelbaum

We don’t watch TV or cable in my house, so our only connection to popular culture is very tightly regulated access to DVDs.  Several years ago, my dad surprised me and bought me the whole Jimmy Neutron series (which I enjoy tremendously).

To those unfamiliar with Jimmy Neutron, he is an animated character in a TV series about a kid genius who invents amazing devices but often gets into trouble because of them.  My all time favorite invention is Goddard, Jimmy’s dog.

Jimmy’s parents have some funny and strange rules; for instance, Jimmy is not allowed to go into space unless all of his chores are done and he is not allowed to talk to aliens unless his parents have met them first.

The jokes and the science in the series are pretty nifty, but I noticed that periodically there is some  interesting (and sometimes flawed) math as well. After watching all of the episodes several times, I decided to dedicate this post to all the Jimmy Neutron/Math fans.  So here it is…

Errors in Calculation
In “Happy Hypno B-Day To You,” Mr. Pickles the clown submits an invoice for 12 consecutive birthday parties that Jimmy got after he hypnotized his parents.  The invoice shows the total amount owed to be $1695.  But if you do the math yourself (see my spreadsheet here) you will discover that the amount should have been $2730.  Another error is found on the line item 7/17.  The total for the Balloon Art w/Style service should be $270 ($45 x 6) and not $225.  Finally, if you calculate the tax rate for Retroville, you will discover that it’s only 2.61%.

Clowning Invoice 1-Sheva Apelbaum Clowning Invoice 2-Sheva Apelbaum

Class Blackboard
In most of the episodes, the classroom blackboard has the same math  formula on it (see below).  The text above the formula says “Fritz Schoenig Theory.”  I did some research, but could not indentify this theory or who Fritz Schoenig is.

Class Blackboard-Sheva Apelbaum 

In “Maximum Hugh,” the above formula changes on the blackboard and instead has the following review list:

Math Homework-Sheva Apelbaum 

Jimmy’s Address
Jimmy’s lives at 3210 Atomic Drive, Retroville.  The house number is the same as the count down from the theme song.  Interestingly, on the invoice of Mr. Pickles the clown, their home number is 1234.

Home Address-Sheva Apelbaum

Jimmy’s Demonstration Board
Jimmy uses several blackboards and whiteboards.  These boards usually show the same formulas (see  below). 

In “Broadcast Blues,” Jimmy describes to the principal his proposal for a weekly TV science show.  During the demo, he points at the board and says that this formula demonstrates “the hypo gravimetric effect on all prime numbers greater than the cube root of N”  The statement doesn't make sense as there are no primes on the board and the formulas are only showing a calculation of work expressed in joules and watts.

Jimmy's Room Blackboard-Sheva ApelbaumJimmy's Whiteboard-Sheva Apelbaum 

Room Wall Decorations
Jimmy’s room has all kinds of interesting math references including the poster “PI in the Sky” and the “Periodic Table of Elements.”

Pi in the Sky-Sheva Apelbaum Periodic Table of Elements-Sheva Apelbaum 

19+ Year Payment Schedule
In “Time is Money,” Jimmy builds a time machine and travels back in time  to convince his parent to buy him the Encyclopedia of Infinite Knowledge.  The delivery schedule for the book series is expressed as a whole number and a two place decimal.  This doesn’t make sense as 19.23 years = 1003.4 weeks, which should have been rounded up to the next whole week (1004 weeks)

The Encyclopedia of Infinite Knowledge-Sheva ApelbaumEncyclopedia Payment Plan-Sheva Apelbaum

The Effect of Progeny on Happiness Quotient
In “Brobot,” Jimmy uses a presentation (bar chart) to mathematically convince his parents that he would be twice as happy if he had a brother (over 100% increase in happiness).

Progeny vs. Happiness-Sheva Apelbaum

General Math Trivia
In addition to having a lot of scientific gadgets and jokes, the shows have the following interesting math/numbers:

  1. In most episodes Jimmy uses his special watch/computer/radar to solve different problem.  If you look at the right hand side of his watch you will see the telephone numbers of all his friends and family.  His robot dog Goddard’s  number is 000911 (subtract the zeros and that is the emergency telephone number in the US).
  2. Looking at Jimmy’s watch you can see that Retroville time is 12:00 and so is Chicago time, which suggests that Retroville is located in the central standard time zone.
  3. Jimmy has a cool problem solving calculator (including human ones) that allows him to find solutions using an f (x) function and approximation. 
  4. When Jimmy re-plays a conversation he had with his mom, Goddard uses a randomize function to select the movie clip. 
  5. When Jimmy mails a letter, the mailbox gives the description of the mail pick-up times as a list made of the word “blah.”
  6. Jimmy’s best friend Carl has a geometry textbook called “Triangles are your friends.”
  7. The time in the classroom is always 2:00 PM.

Watch PIM 3-Sheva Apelbaum Decision Calculator-Sheva Apelbaum
Randomize Function-Sheva Apelbaum Mail Schedule-Sheva Apelbaum
Carl Triangles-Sheva Apelbaum Class Time-Sheva Apelbaum

If you have discovered any other math related content in the Jimmy Neutron series, please let me know and I will incorporate it here.

"Atomic batteries to power!"  "Turbines to speed!" "Gotta blast!"

7 comments:

  1. Hm, I was bored (which VERY seldom happens to me) and whupp along came your blog post! Now I have something to deal with for at leeeeeeeeast the next hour - you are such a Sheva devil, you are!!!

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  2. Thank you Yael, I am sure that Jimmy’s adventures can easily entertain for at least an hour!

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  3. I have never seen Jimmy Neutron--now I have some base from which to begin! Thanks, Sheva!

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  4. Hi Dawn, you should check out the movie version out of your library. Try this link for information.

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  5. As I recall, one episode featured the kids mining rubies on an asteroid; when they must later leave the asteroid and are trapped in Jupiter's gravitational field. Jimmy suggests using the rubies as extra fuel to escape the field, as the rubies emit alpha radiation. They are shown loading the rubies (either by hand or with small handheld shovels, I don't recall) into a thin metal hatch... wouldn't it be really hazardous to get that close to a source of alpha radiation?

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  6. Hi Sheva,
    "General math trivia" point 1 Goddard's phone number. 000 is the emergency phone number in Australia 911 in the U.S. Other countries use these numbers as well.
    The names of the characters relate to famous scientists or mathematicians.
    The interests of the characters are science/math related; Jimmy's dad loves his wife's pies (Pi) and ducks. (The reason I am here... Can't find the mathematical connection to ducks!)

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  7. very interesting post Sheva! I am glad to have found a clear image of mr. pickles invoice. Is better than the ones I have on the Jimmy Neutron wiki page of his invoice that I created. if you want to add some stuff to that page feel free too. I really like the facts and interesting trivia you found!

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