Photo: Ruben Alexander

Almost everyone has heard the paradox “which came first, the chick or the egg?” That was so 2nd grade. Here are some others for you to think about:

Zeno’s paradox: “In a race, the quickest runner can never overtake the slowest, since the pursuer must first reach the point whence the pursued started, so that the slower must always hold a lead.” This is also known as Achilles and the Tortoise. If Achilles (fast) is racing a tortoise (slow), but the tortoise is given a mile head start, by the time Achilles has reached where the tortoise has begun, the tortoise has advanced a measurable distance X. In the time it takes Achilles to cover the distance X to where the tortoise currently is, the tortoise will have gone another measurable distance Y. This will go on infinitely so that Achilles will come close, but never actually pass the tortoise.

Mpemba paradox: “Hot water can, under certain conditions, freeze faster than cold water, even though it must pass the lower temperature on the way to freezing.” If you have two cups of water – one at 95 degrees and one at 45 – and place them in the freezer, shockingly the hotter cup will freeze first. Check out the link for insight into why and the story of the high school kid it was named after.

The Pinocchio paradox: “What would happen if Pinocchio said ‘My nose will be growing’?” An awesome version of the classic “This sentence is false” paradox.

Drinker paradox: “In any pub there is a customer such that, if he or she drinks, everybody in the pub drinks.” Either everyone in the pub is drinking , or at least one person in the pub isn’t drinking. On the one hand, suppose everyone is drinking. For any particular person, it can’t be wrong to say that if that particular person is drinking, then everyone in the pub is drinking — because everyone is drinking. Suppose, on the other hand, at least one person isn’t drinking. For that particular person, it still can’t be wrong to say that if that particular person is drinking, then everyone in the pub is drinking — because that person is, in fact, not drinking. Either way, there is someone in the pub such that, if they are drinking, everyone in the pub is drinking. Something to talk about next time you are in a pub not drinking.

Go on to Part Deux for more.

This post comes at you all the way from Berlin, Germany. I’m having a great time and will return home with plenty of stories one week from today.