*SOUNDTRACK*: **ROBERT SCHNEIDER-“Reverie in Prime Time Signatures” (2009).**

Robert Schneider is the lead singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer of The Apples in Stereo. He also received a PhD in mathematics from Emory University in 2018.

So he seems like the perfect person to write this complex score (even if he wrote it before he got his PhD).

In the back of the book, Schneider explains in pretty great detail how he chose to write what he did.

He also says that the music was written and and first performed at an experiemntal reading of the original script at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton on Dec 12 2009. Schneider played synth along with cellist Heather McIntosh and clarinet Alex Kontorovich. The musical score is included in the book and you can hear it here

The piece is two minutes with harpsichord and a lead cello and flute with a synthesizer underneath.

It is mournful and quite pretty.

For a song that is all about odd time signatures, it somehow doesn’t feel awkward or choppy. I don’t know enough about time signatures to even tell where the different parts are–I can’t hear it at all. But I find the piece to be quite nice. And it is reasonable to think that the victims could have the melody stuck in their heads.

[*READ*: June 19, 2019] **Prime Suspects**

Raise your hand if you want a graphic novel (illustrated by Robert J. Lewis) that is a *CSI*-styled investigation but is actually a pretty thorough look into higher mathematics.

I have a hard time summing up what this book is all about because I didn’t get all the math that’s going on here. But the story itself is pretty fun and easy to follow.

The book opens with two cops finding a dead body in a tunnel There’s also a documentary crew filming everything for the show *MSI: Mathematical Science investigation.*

A man in a hat and trench coat welcomes us to his world–a world where you don’t have to understand everything to know something. Where a legendary mathematics professor became the subject of a documentary.

That professor is Professor Gauss. His assistant Mr Langer is in the precinct with Gauss to talk about what hey have found.

Langer is a formally educated student. A bit uptight and stuffy. One day in Professor Gauss’ class a young woman with a ring in her nose and unique fashion sense came in. Her name is Emmy Germain and she proves to be incredibly smart. But she is self-educated–an abomination to Langer. But she turns out to be a delightful surprise to the documentary crew that is inexplicably filming Guass’ class.

When another body turns up dead, Professor Gauss decides to invite both Langer and Germain to be his assistants on the case. Which ever one is able to solve it will become his teaching assistant next year (seems like low reward for a lot of work until you see Gauss’ apartment).

The dead bodies are Arnie Int, lieutenant of the Integer crime family (yes, it’s that kind of book) and Daisy Permutation. Aside from the MO–both have been killed with their heart surgically removed–they have nothing in common. Daisy is a professional dancer.

When Emma sticks her hands in the body, she pulls out an organ “it’s a prime, sir” and indeed the organ comes out looking like a number (7309). If Arnie is the head of the Integrers than he must be full of primes. Then there’s some backtracking to explain prime numbers for the cameramen.

After the forensics teams cleans up, everyone heads to Gauss’ Luxury penthouse. There we see that permutations can be broken up into cycles.

While playing snooker they explore the question of how many different ways the players can sink the balls. The first person could have sunk any of the 12 colors. The second person selects from the remaining 11, the next picks from ten and so on. This is a permutation. In this case 12 factorial and it comes to around 400 million. Cycles are parts of permutations, in the same way that primes are components of integers.

The authors and artist have a lot of fun with the little details in the book. There’s all kinds of images in the background that relate to other things (the end of the book is dense with footnotes and explanations). Like when they are in a mall, all of the signs refer to past mathematicians. But there’s also some pop culture fun. Like the fact that the documentary crew’s sound guy is chubby with a beard and he doesn’t speak. When he does speak, he has a Silent Bob moment (the authors note that they asked Kevin Smith for permission to use the likeness).

Clues lead Emmy to the Poisson point process. But Langer is dismissive saying he’s already figured that out and he’s been doings “serious” research,

While Emmy stays back she discovers that both cadavers had a piece of music in their head going round and round. This is when Silent Bob talks about sound and music of the cubes. The song is a nod to the golden ratio The piece is in prime-numbered time signatures 2/4,2/4,2/4. Most of it is in 7/4 with a measure in 29/4. It’s a musical rendition of the sieve of Eratosthenes. (And it’s the music above).

Langer gets desperate and uses the work of Count Nicolas Bourbaki. But Gauss tells him that Bourbaki and Joe Ten-Dieck got their math wrong.

After going through many examples and wrong turns, Emmy proves the connection between the two. Langer says its impossible but Gauss recites “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be the truth.”

Langer is busy explaining his findings to the police, but it’s Emmy who brings in the evidence that seals the deal–the death of Ms. Polly Nomial (yes). And the best part–her body was burnt but it did not burn up all the way because a polynomial is irreducible.

The ending is quite surprising even after it is explained.

The end of the book has a *Dramatis Personae* which talks about integers and permutations in more detail. It then explains some of the character names. K.F. Gauss was mathematician. Emmy Germain is a joining of Sophie Germain and Emmy Noether (as there are not enough women in research mathematics). Sergei Langer is Serge Lang (who died in 2005) a prolific researcher. Lang wrote a huge volume of books although they were often carelessly written. He felt that the best way to learn about something was to write a book about it. He liked to put mathematics in a more abstract context.

The rest of the *dramatis personae* lists dozens of mathematicians who are named or whose likenesses appear in the book.

The next end section is “The Mathetmatics of Prime Suspects” written by Andrew Granville. It is pretty intense and goes in depth into Integers and their prime factors and permutations and their cycles. As well as a calibration where you get mathematical formulas that look like this I=x22lnf(x)−12∫x2(2x+x(x2−a2)−1/2)x2+a2+x2−a2−−−−−−√dx

There is also a decommission of the ancient Greeks and other obscure references.

The story was originally a screenplay. It was performed in a live reading in many cities with a small stage design. There was even a documentary by Tommy Britt. The authors decided that the best way to be able to really do everything they wanted with these ideas was via a graphic novel.

You can see a trailer for the book below:

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