587: Crime Scene
Title text: I think I see a Mandelbrot set! No, that's just blood spatters. Golly.
Mathnet was a segment on the children's television show "Square One Television", where police mathematicians solved crimes and other mysteries by math. This comic plays on that by implying that Mathnet was a real department of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), and, when the show was cancelled, the department was shut down, forcing the mathematicians to become regular detectives.
Here, George Frankly, one of the two lead detectives on the show, tries to glean some sort of mathematical meaning out of the murders scene looking for mathematical patterns. His fellow officer, knowing him, tries to tell him off by saying that it is just two dead bodies. But this only makes George state that "two" is the third Fibonacci number. These are a set of numbers where the generators are the two first ones and, after that each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8... (making 2 the third number). Since most of the small numbers are in the Fibonacci sequence, the fact that the number of bodies is one of these numbers is not the least interesting. Again his fellow officer tries to shut him down, and not continue this unhelpful line of thought.
The title text shows that this did not help since George now thinks he can see a Mandelbrot set. But again his fellow officer tries to explain that this is only something he imagines seeing in the blood spatters from the victims. The Mandelbrot set is a formula used to create certain kinds of fractals that you might imagine seeing in the something like blood spatters. The last word Golly is written after the other officers sentence. It may by unclear who of the two uses this version of Gosh as an exclamation, but it is probably George's exclamation because he just realized he is seeing blood spatters - something he probably never did before on the children show. Golly also is an application for simulating Conway's Game of Life and other cellular automata.
- [A crime scene is surrounded by tape wound around several pins four of which are inside this panel. A large black pool is on the ground, with splashes around it, and a hammer lying in one of these splashes. Two people are standing outside the tape; a police officer with a peaked cap with a white emblem is standing closest and to his left is a man with male pattern baldness, who we learn is called George.]
- Policeman: Looks like a murder-suicide.
- George: Any interesting mathematical patterns?
- Policeman: No, George, just two dead bodies and a lot of blood.
- George: Two... That's the third Fibonacci number!
- Policeman: Not now, George.
- [Caption below the frame:]
- When Mathnet shut down, the officers had trouble reintegrating into the regular L.A.P.D.
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