I, For One, Welcome Our Obsessed Overlords

Here’s another example of a brilliant exploration of a valuable area of scientific thought driven by a reference to The Simpsons. Ainslie recently gave a lecture to students highlighting the occurrences of high math in Futurama.
Is it just me, or are today’s scientists getting more and more willing to use comic references as a hook into their academic research? Or has it always been this weird? For example, there’s a whole set of math problems based ‘On the problem of sorting burnt pancakes.
I’m not complaining, mind you – I’m all for making this sort of highfalutin thinking more accessible. But is this a new phenomenon, or has it been around for a lot longer? What’s the weirdest scientific premise you’ve come across?