Friday, May 8, 2015

Umbral Moonshine glimmers on 'The Big Bang Theory'

The precise statement of the Umbral Moonshine Conjecture can be seen on Sheldon's white board.

The proof of the Umbral Moonshine Conjecture has been making news in math and science circles in recent months, including stories in Qanta Magazine and Scientific American. The conjecture was proved by Emory mathematicians Ken Ono and Michael Griffin, and Case Western's John Duncan. The conjecture draws on everything from mock modular forms to string theory and quantum gravity, making it difficult to state. But it has still managed to find its way into pop culture.

A recent episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” titled “The Hofstader Insufficiency,” gave the conjecture a cameo of sorts. During one scene, the white board in apartment 4A, where Sheldon and Leonard live, was covered in the mathematical formulas of the Dynkin diagrams and the McKay-Thompson series of the Umbral Moonshine Conjecture. And the screenshot, above, shows the precise statement of the Umbral Moonshine Conjecture by Ono and his collaborators.

So remember to watch the white board in future “Big Bang” episodes. It may have news of some pretty cool discoveries.

Mathematicians prove the Umbral Moonshine Conjecture

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