Monday, January 19, 2009

It's Funnier In Person

I LOVE Chuck Lorre's Big Bang Theory show. LOVE.

And each one is followed by a "vanity card" wherein he gets to express himself. Tonight's episode offered the following - Chuck, forgive me for the pasting in. Does it help if I declare openly that you are a genius?

There's a funny moment in tonight's episode where Sheldon gets stuck on a rock-climbing wall and remarks, "What part of an inverse tangent approaching an asymptote don't you understand?" I thought it'd be helpful to take a moment and examine that joke.

A linear asymptote is essentially a straight line to which a graphed curve moves closer and closer but does not reach. In other words, given a function y=fn(x) with asymptote A, A represents a number that, no matter how big (or, given the function, small) you make x, y will never make it to A. The particular example Sheldon quotes is the inverse Tangent function, or Arctangent, which has two asymptotes. If you graph it, it sort of looks like a horizontal S:

No matter how big you make x (that is, how far you move to the right), the function is never going to hit that top line (π/2), and no matter how small x gets (moving to the left), y is never going to be smaller than - π/2.

The more you know, the funnier it gets.

Sigh...I love that show...did I say that already?

P.S. I would have totally been a female Sheldon if it wasn't for negative influences and Sloe Gin...


D.W. said...

While I get the joke, I find that I can't enjoy it because whenever I hear references to math, or heaven forbid SEE A GRAPH, I break out in cold sweats. Horrible flashbacks... :-)

TXGunGeek said...

The Mrs. and I gave season one DVD sets as Christmas gifts this year. Always have to pause at the card to soak it all in. Thank God for DVR's.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this explanation. Though I got the joke from the situation, I didn't know the actual meaning of that until now.