# Smart Futurama Jokes You Need A PhD To Understand

With a writers room containing three PhDs, seven master’s degrees, and over 50 cumulative years at Harvard, it’s no surprise that there are some smart jokes on Futurama. In fact, some are smarter than we are! Thankfully, over the show’s 14-year run, itÂ never failed to remain accessible.

One of the great things about Futurama is that it works on so many levels. Whether you’re a fan of complex mathematical theorems and references, or you just want to watch Bender drink and steal things, there’s always something to enjoy.

But for the really esoteric stuff, it definitely helps if you have a doctorate in physics or mathematics. Not to mention a lightning fast pause button!Â This list will help explain those jokes, and save you some serious student loan debt, so keep reading to see some of Futurama‘s smartest jokes.

**Bender Has Less Processing Power Than Your Phone**

When Bender gets an X-ray during “Fry and the SlurmÂ Factory,” viewers are treated to a look inside the foul-mouthed robot’s head. There, we can see that Bender uses a processor labeled “6502.” As computer scientists are well aware, the 6502 microprocessor was the same model Steve WozniakÂ used for the Apple II in 1977. Perhaps that lack of computational power explains some of Bender’s more questionable decisions.

**Mind The (Keeler) Gap**

Featured in the TV movie (or Episode 4 of Season 6, as it was styled after the show was picked up again) “Into The WildÂ Green Yonder,” this quick sight gag tests viewers knowledge of astronomy.

A sign on the rings of Saturn reads “Mind The Keeler Gap,” a reference both to the famous “Mind The Gap” warning of the London tube system and theÂ real-life Keeler Gap, a 42-kilometer wide gap in the A Ring of Saturn named in honor of James Edward Keeler.

**1729 Is A Magic Number**

The number 1729 shows up inÂ FuturamaÂ too many times to be a coincidence. As seen in “Xmas Story” from a holiday card, we know that Bender is Mom’s 1729th son. In “The Farnsworth Parabox,” Fry visits Universe 1729, and 1729 happens to be the registration number of TheÂ Nimbus, Zap Brannigan’s ship.

So, then, why does this number keep cropping up? It’s actually known in mathematics circles as the Hardy-Ramanujan number. Apparently, when British mathematician G. H. Hardy once rode to visit his friend (and fellow mathematician)Â SrinivasaÂ Ramanujan. He remarked that the cab he took thereÂ had been a dull number (1729) to which Ramanujan replied that it was, in fact, an interesting number. 1729 is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways. Comedy!

**A Sneaky Vonnegut Reference**

This jokeÂ is so fast, you can be forgiven for missing it. Seen in the episode “War is the H-Word,” a quick establishing shot of a 7-11 establishes that it’s open for 28 hours a day, the poverty of the cashier, and most interestingly offers a promotion for a free bag of Ice-9 with the purchase of a six-pack.

Ice-nineÂ is a literary reference to Kurt Vonnegut’s fourth novelÂ Cat’s Cradle. In the book, ice-nineÂ is a crystalline substance capable of changingÂ all the water in the world to an non-potable ice-like material. The fact that such a devastatingÂ material would be available for free at a convenience store showcases Futurama’s absurdity at its finest.

**Futurama Invents A Mathematical Theorem**

Ken Keeler invented a real mathematical theorem in order to explain the body switching featured in “The Prisoner of Benda.” Keeler, in addition to writing forÂ Futurama, holds a PhD in Applied Mathematics. Apparently, he included the joke to help popularize mathematics among young fans of the show.

**The Quantum Finish**

Officials use an electron microscope to determine the winner of a horse race in “The Luck of the Fryrish.”Â The officials declare the race aÂ “quantum finish,” and Professor Farnsworth complains, â€śNo fair! You changed the outcome by measuring it!â€ť This refers to the observer effect,Â a phenomenon in physics that observing quantum particles can change their position. Which means allÂ Futuramaepisodes might be different if they were played in an empty room. Food for thought.

**Colleen’s T-Shirt Equation**

Colleenâ€™s shirt features a math equation that parodies the famous “I Love NY” campaign. Â It basically translates toÂ â€śfor all X,Â I love Xâ€ť.Â Or â€śI love everything/everyone.”

Very appropriate given the plotÂ line featured what amounts to a planet-spanning orgy in “The Beast with a Billion Backs,” and Colleen is a polyamorous character who loves everyone.

**It Really Stays There**

The opening title card of “Prisoner of Benda”Â reads, â€śWhat happens in Cygnus X-1 stays in Cygnus X-1.” Â An obvious reference to â€śWhat happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” the joke here is that Cygnus X-1 is a black hole. So even light that gets to close will,Â in fact, never leave. And presumably any andÂ all gambling.

**Boogie Nights To The Third Power**

In several episodes ofÂ Futurama, Bender and the crew visitÂ Studio 1^2 2^1 3^3.Â This multiplies to 54, a reference to the famous Studio 54.

Seems like a great place to get down (provided you can do exponential math).

**Your Movie Is In Theater 234,567,890,126,0945**

The movie theater the Planet Express crew frequents features anÂ odd symbol. Pronounced aleph-null, itÂ is the representation of the smallest infinite cardinal number, meaning the theater has a theoretically infinite number of screens.

Thatâ€™s a LOT packed in to a two second sight gag.

**Crazy Strong Krazy Glue**

After Zoidberg breaks the Professorâ€™s model ship (classic Zoidberg), he tries to fix it with â€śStrong Force Krazy Glue.”

Strong force is one of the four basic forces in the universe (the others being weak force, gravity, and electromagnetism), and as the name implies, itâ€™s the strongest. It holds together subatomic particles at the nuclei.

That sounds like something too powerful for almost anybody, let alone Zoidberg.

**SchrĂ¶dinger Gets Pulled Over**

Fry and the copbot namedÂ URL capture Erwin Schrodinger, the famous physicist, in “Law and Oracle.” On the front seat of his car is a box, which SchrĂ¶dinger says contains, â€śa cat, some poison, and a Caesium atom.” When asked if the cat is alive or dead, SchrĂ¶dinger replies, â€śitâ€™s in a superposition of both states until you open the box and collapse the wave function.”

This is a reference to Schrodingerâ€™s Cat, the eponymousÂ thought experiment from the famous physicist.

**It’s All About Balance**

This quick gag relies on knowledge of mechanical advantage as it relates to levers. The equation (M1)(a) = (M2)(b) is used to express a balanced lever.Â M1 is the mass at one end of the fulcrum, M2 is the mass at the other end, a is the distance from the fulcrum to M1, and b is the distance from the fulcrum to M2.

So therefore, the force the main building exerts must be great that the force of the annex, since the fulcrum is so close to the main building.Â Well, until Nibblerâ€™s ship lands outside and ruins everything.

**Beer For Nerds**

A six-pack of beer labeled â€śSt. Pauli Exclusion Principle Girlâ€ť appears in a liquor store during the episode “The Route of All Evil.” Â This combines the famous St. Pauli Girl beer brand with the Pauli Exclusion Principle which states that two electrons cannot have the same four quantum numbers. It’s nice to see that craft beer survives in the future.

**The Cryptic Roman Catholic Crypt**

The inscription on the side of this mysterious crypt might appear to be a date, but it’s actually anÂ equation in Roman numerals.Â So IIXI â€“ (XXIII * LXXXIX) is 211 â€“ (23 * 89), which equals 1.

If we rearrange the equation, we get 211 â€“ 1 = 2047.Â This is a Mersenne Prime, in which a prime number is reached through 2p â€“ 1 where p is any prime number.Â The mathematical joke here is that 2047 isnâ€™t prime, itâ€™s the smallest number described by 2p â€“ 1 that isÂ notÂ a prime number. Â How could we have missed that one?

**The Math Problem In The Cupboard**

In â€śPut Your Head on My Shoulder,” while Fry and Amy (or Framy) are in a storage closet, we see twoÂ books labeled P and NP, respectively.Â This refers to anÂ unsolvedÂ mathematical problem in computer scienceÂ described as â€śwhether every problem whose solution can be quickly verified by a computer can also be quickly solved by a computer.”

Basically, the notion that such an idea could be compressed in two slim volumes is ludicrous.

Bonus: There is also a can of “Condensed Milt” on the shelf. Milt refers to the sexual organs of male fish and mollusks when they are full of sperm. Probably wouldn’t be as good in pound cake.

**All Robots Go To Hell**

“Hell is Other Robots” is a first season episode of Futurama. This title is a play on a line from Jean-Paul Sartreâ€™s one act play,Â No Exit, while the episode itself borrows from the structure of Danteâ€™sÂ Divine Comedy, particularly the â€śInferno,” as Bender descends the levels of Robot Hell.

Of course, the episode isnâ€™t all highbrow literary allusion, as the climax features a golden fiddle battle a la, â€śThe Devil Went Down To Georgiaâ€ť.