Super Safi’s Monday Morning Math Mayhem 01 – Mersenne Prime

Morning Mathematical Monsters & Maniacs!

(Today’s post is sponsored by the letter “M”)


Over the past 600+ episodes, The Simpsons has taken us on an amazing mathematical journey involving fractions, probability, Fermat’s last theorem, and hundreds of other aspects from the wonderful world off mathematics.

And what better way to start your week, then by discussing math Monday morning?

So let’s get started this week by discussing Mersenne Prime numbers.


In the finale of Season 17, Marge and Homer Turn a Couple Play (Season 17, Episode 22), the Springfield Isotopes’s star first baseman Buck “Home Run King” Mitchell is having marital problems with his pop star wife Tabitha Vixx (voiced by This Is Us star Mandy Moore). So when he sees Homer and Marge kissing on the Jumbotron, he asks them for advice. But when Homer is later caught giving a neck massage to Tabitha, both couples break up again – and it is hard for Homer and Marge to give advice when they are not talking to each other themselves.

Towards the end of the episode, Tabitha appears on the Jumbotron asking the stadium crowd to guess the evening’s attendance. At first glance, it appears as though the three numbers are just random numbers. However, as you’ll see today and the next couple weeks, these three numbers are more than just random numbers.


The first number on the Jumbotron is 8,191.

8,191 is a Mersenne prime, named after Marin Mersenne (pictured below), a French Minim friar, who studied them in the early 17th century.

In mathematics, a Mersenne prime is a prime number that is one less than a power of two. That is, it is a prime number of the form Mn = 2n − 1 for some integer n.

[Not all numbers of the form 2n − 1 are Mersenne primes, as we’ll see in a few weeks when we look at another number important to the game that bears the form 2n − 1 .]

8,191 is the 5th Mersenne prime. The first 5 Mersenne prime numbers are:

3 = 22 − 1

7 = 23 − 1

31 = 25 − 1

127 = 27 − 1

8,191 = 213 − 1

While the first 4 Mersenne primes were discovered by the Ancient Greeks over 2,300 years ago, 8,191 was not discovered as a prime number until the year 1456. As of this week, there are 51 known Mersenne primes.


Now that we know the secret behind the first number, be sure to come back next week when we talk about the second number.

Do you remember this episode? Did you catch the number 8,191 on the Jumbotron? Did you recognize the number 8,191 as a prime number? Are you familiar with Mersenne primes? Sound off in the comments below. You know we love hearing from you.

53 responses to “Super Safi’s Monday Morning Math Mayhem 01 – Mersenne Prime

  1. Not familiar with Mersennes primes. Most informative. Small digestible amount of information. Great post Safi.

  2. Maths, not math.

  3. Safi,
    Your Math Mayhem reminds me of Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land (and yes I remember watching this via a projector in school) 👍

  4. Safi you are a treasure. It’s a great day when you learn something especially in a fun manner. No matter how old you are. 🥴Thanks for this.

  5. Here is some more fun prime number info:
    -The largest known prime number was just discovered in December
    -The number is 2^82,589,933-1
    -That number is 24,862,048 digits long.
    -If you held down a number button on your keyboard, and it typed 10 digits a second, it would take you 690 hours to type out that many digits.

  6. Never mind all this maths !!!!
    What’s the next big thing in the game ? Very unusual not to hear anything. THE END maybe ?

    • Funny… people beg for breaks. You get a break and think it’s the end…

      • Tongue in cheek.
        Funny enough I was top in my grade at school in maths, so I find Safi’s stuff interesting.
        Also i’m one of those who don’t care if we have no breaks, I like to play the game full on, with something happening all the time.
        As for the next event it’s going to be interesting to see what format EA go with.

    • By my calculations, the next event starts in … What’s that? You said “Never mind all this math”? Well then I better not share the math involved in my calculation of the next event start date. 🙂

  7. Tracy-1ltwoody920

    As long as we are discussing math…

    A Limerick for Mathaletes

    It’s long been a project of mine
    A new value of Pi to define
    It’s easier, you see
    To set it at three
    Than 3 point 14159

  8. There’s a whole book on the math that shows up in both The Simpsons and Futurama called “The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets”. It’s a great read!

  9. Gotta admit, my only interest in “Prime” since my college days has been attached to really good steaks…😋

    • Similarly, the only prime I’m interested in is linked with my Amazon account! 😂
      I have a headache just looking at that math! I’m so glad others get it so I don’t have to.

  10. My new years resolution was specifically no math!😡

  11. Brain mash 🤯

  12. Interesting, thank you 😊🇬🇧 Looking forward to next week

  13. Thanks for the post. I know I’ll “derive” great pleasure as your math “series” finds the “limit from 0 to infinity”.

  14. 👍🧮

  15. HOYVIN-GLAVIN-FLAVIN!!!! Love the info.. Dude the Simpsons are full of Math and Theories. Thank you for the post, and as Professor Frink would say “don’t forget to carry the one”..

  16. I knew about 2^n-1, but never knew it had a name. Thanks

  17. Very interesting… we don’t expect to read that kind of thing on a TSTO website… thanks for this info.

  18. Thanks Safi. I always find your posts to be helpful and interesting!

  19. This post is just perfect!

  20. Tracy-1ltwoody920

    Thanks. Never heard of this progression.
    But where is 2 to the 11 (-1). Or am I myself missing something?

    • 2 to the 11 is 2,048. When we subtract 1, we get 2,047.

      2,047 is not a prime as it is the product of 23 times 89.

      • Tracy-1ltwoody920

        Aww, now I understand.
        2 to a Prime number minus 1, the result of which must be a Prime number.
        Very interesting.

  21. What is this, Futurama?

  22. Thanks a lot Safi! I read of this easter egg on a book about “Simpsons’ secret formula” of Simon Singh, those other numbers are mathematically relevant themselves 😊

  23. This is not something I would expect to learn on a blog about a mobile phone game! I love it.

  24. Good timing, since they just found the new largest prime number in December…and it was a Mersenne Prime!

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