No, I'm sorry, it does.
There are some arguments that never end. John or Paul? "Another thing coming" or "Another think coming?" But none has the staying power of "Is 0.999999...., with the 9s repeating forever, equal to 1?" A high school math teacher takes on all doubters. Round 2. Round 3. Refutations of some popular "They're not equal" arguments. Refutations, round 2.
You don't have to a mathematician to get in on the fun: .99999=1 discussed on a conspiracy theory website, an Ayn Rand website
(where it is accused to violating the "law of identity"), and a World of Warcraft forum.
But never, as far as I can tell, on MetaFilter.
posted by escabeche
on Sep 30, 2007 -
The Marquis de Condorcet
and Admiral Jean-Charles de Borda
were two men of the French Enlightenment who struggled with how to design voting systems that accurately reflected voters' preferences. Condorcet favored a method
that required the winner in a multiparty election to win a series of head-to-head contests, but he also discovered that his method easily led to a paradoxes
that produced no clear winners. The Borda method
avoids the Condorcet paradox by requiring voters to rank choices numerically in order of preference, but this method is flawed because the withdrawal of a last-place candidate can reverse the election results
. Mathematicians in the 19th century attempted to design better voting systems, including Lewis Carroll
, who favored an early form of proportional representation
. Economist Kenneth Arrow argued that designing a perfect voting system was futile, because his "impossibility theorem"
proved that it's impossible to design a non-dictatorial voting system that fulfills five basic criteria of fairness
. (more inside)
posted by jonp72
on Aug 27, 2007 -
The Prime Game
is not really much of a game, but it is
a neat & little-known fact about the decimal representation of prime numbers.
posted by Wolfdog
on Jul 10, 2007 -
The Klein Four
is a group of math students at the Northwestern University who delight in bringing you various lovely, well-sung A Capella songs infused with their very own and very nerdy flavour. They're not the newest of the web, having released their first CD
in 2005, but witty lyrics
and five-part harmonizing
are definitely worth checking out. I did do a search for this and didn't find anything. Please don't kill me.
posted by Phire
on May 23, 2007 -
Aptitude Schmaptitude! While the state of mathematical incompetence in this country has been much lamented, most famously in Paulos's brilliant 1988 book Innumeracy, it is still tacitly accepted . . . Being incompetent in math has become not only acceptable in this widely innumerate culture, it has almost become a matter of pride. No one
goes around showing off that he is illiterate, or has no athletic ability, but declarations of innumeracy are constantly made without any embarrassment or shame.
posted by jason's_planet
on May 3, 2007 -
Did the roof of the Pantheon influence Copernicus?
Are the planets of the solar system aligned in accordance with a nearly-forgotten hypothesis known (unfairly) as Bode's Law
? A fascinating wide-ranging discussion on BLDGBLOG with Walter Murch
, the visionary editor and sound designer for such films as The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, The English Patient, THX1138,
and many others. [Murch's film work has previously been discussed here
posted by digaman
on Apr 7, 2007 -
"This is a story of how the impossible became possible. How, for centuries, scientists were absolutely sure that solids (as well as decorative patterns like tiling and quilts) could only have certain symmetries - such as square, hexagonal and triangular - and that most symmetries, including five-fold symmetry in the plane and icosahedral symmetry in three dimensions (the symmetry of a soccer ball), were strictly forbidden. Then, about twenty years ago, a new kind of pattern, known as a "quasicrystal," was envisaged that shatters the symmetry restrictions and allows for an infinite number of new patterns and structures that had never been seen before, suggesting a whole new class of materials...."
Physicist Paul J. Steinhardt delivers a fascinating lecture
(WMV) on tilings
. However, it turns out science was beaten to the punch: a recent paper
Islamic architecture developed similar tilings centuries earlier.
posted by parudox
on Mar 18, 2007 -
Dr James Anderson, from the University of Reading's computer science department, claims to have defined what it means to divide by zero. It's so simple, he claims, that he's even taught it to high school students
[via Digg]. You just have to work with a new number he calls Nullity
(RealPlayer video). According to Anderson's site The Book of Paragon
, the creation, innovation, or discovery of nullity is a step toward describing a "perspective simplex, or perspex [ . . . ] a simple physical thing that is both a mind and a body." Anderson claims that Nullity permits the definition of transreal arithmetic
(pdf), a "total arithmetic . . . with no arithmetical exceptions," thus removing what the fictional dialogue No Zombies, Only Feelies?
identifies as the "homunculus problem" in mathematics: the need for human intervention to sort out "corner cases" which are not defined.
posted by treepour
on Dec 7, 2006 -
Raft to the Future:
An article about the weirdness of physical models of the universe, how that weirdness correlates to the inherent incompleteness
of mathematical systems, and how time itself can emerge
at the fringes of these incomplete models.
posted by knave
on Nov 6, 2006 -