23 Aug

Mathematical stand up

Date: Wed, 23 Aug 95 14:18:54 -0700 From: Peter Langston <psl> To: Fun_People Subject: Mathematical stand up [I understand that on Vulcan this bit has all the stature of who's-on-first, while for many Terrans it's just nonsense... -psl] Forwarded-by: "pardo@cs.washington.edu" <pardo@cs.washington.edu> <<Further forwards are irrational>> - ------------------------- Cross examination of the mathematics expert, Dr. Del Operator, by the defense. Q. Dr. Operator, you have testified that the guilt or innocence of the defendent depends upon the equation X^2+1=0, is this your testimony? A. Yes. Q. Does the equation X^2+1=0 have a solution? A. Yes. Q. Is this solution bigger than 3? A. I don't know. Q. You don't know? And you consider yourself an expert in mathematics? A. Yes. Q. Is the solution to X^2+1=0 bigger than 10? A. I don't know. Q. Is it bigger than 100? A. I don't know. Q. Let's start over. Is the solution of X^2+1=0 an ordinary number? A. What do you mean by ordinary? Q. A a number that has the usual operations -- addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc. Now please answer the question: is the solution of X^2+1=0 an ordinary number? A. Yes. Q. Are there ordinary numbers less than 100? A. Yes. Q. Are there ordinary numbers less than 10? A. Yes. Q. Are there ordinary numbers less than 3? A. Yes. Q. All right. Is the magnitude of the solution to X^2+1=0 less than 3? A. Yes. Q. Yes?? But you just said that you didn't know. Are you now changing your answer? A. No. Q. Your Honor, this witness is non-responsive. I would like to ask The Court to designate Dr. Operator as a hostile witness. The Court. It is so ordered. Dr. Operator, you must answer the questions posed to you. Q. Dr. Operator, I ask you again: is the solution to X^2+1=0 less than 3? A. I don't know, it's more complicated than that ... Q. A simple yes or no will do, Dr. Operator. Just answer the question: is the magnitude of the solution of X^2+1=0 less than 3? A. Yes. Q. Is the magnitude of the solution of X^2+1=0 less than 2? A. Yes. Q. Is the magnitude of the solution of X^2+1=0 less than 1? A. No. Q. Is the solution of X^2+1=0 greater than 1? A. I don't know. I can't answer the question. Q. You can't answer the question, or you _won't_ answer the question? Which is it, Dr. Operator? Prosecution: Objection, argumentative. The Court: Sustained. Q. Dr. Operator: is it your testimony that the solution of X^2+1=0 is not less than 1, but you don't know if it is greater than 1? A. No, that is incorrect. Q. Your Honor: this witness is being most uncooperative. The Court: Dr. Operator, I must warn you that you are testing the patience of the Court. If you continue to be uncooperative, I will have to hold you in contempt. Q. Dr. Operator, you have testified that the magnitude of the solution to X^2+1=0 is less than 2, but not less than 1, is this correct? A. Yes. Q. All right. Dr. Operator, are there numbers bigger than the magnitude of the solution to X^2+1=0? A. Yes, I believe that I testified that 2 is such a number. Q. A simple yes or no will do, Dr. Operator. Now what is the first number bigger than the magnitude of the solution to X^2+1=0? A. I can't tell you that. The Court. Bailiff, please escort this witness to the County jail to be held overnight. Dr. Operator, I hold you in contempt of Court, and you will be held without bail until you are ready to cooperate. A. But, but .....

© 1995 Peter Langston