COTD: Neo-Sophistic Edition

Illustration for article titled COTD: Neo-Sophistic Edition

Humans love to argue. For some people it's not about being correct so much as being convincing. And if you can conjure up some kind of puzzle that has no real answer, well, take that and a lunch and there's your day.

This totally works for us, and apparently for you, too. (See the responses to any random AOTD.) It's got a more noble tradition, as well; the greatest minds in human history often made their mark batting around weird little puzzles that seem pointless to a casual onlooker but busily become inquiries into genuine truth itself as you go deeper. Zen koans? Ontological games? Questions about impossibilities? Bring it.

This is what gets respect. And no small number of Nobel Prizes in the pre-particle-accelerator era.


Which leads to DennyCraneDennyCraneDennyCrane' s short history of physics lecture regarding a massive Paris hotel garage fire started — we still think — by the now depressingly predictable prospect of a self-immolating Ferrari:

Ferrari is just doing what it can to elucidate the prominent physics gedankenexperiment of the early 20th century!

Schroedinger's Ferrari: A Ferrari is both on fire and not on fire simultaneously until observed, at which point it collapses into one state or the other

Heisenberg's uncertainty principle: Since Ferrari has a navigation system that uses the same display as the speedometer, you may know where you are, or how fast you're going, but not both at the same time.

Some potential future examples:

Newton's cannon Ferrari: If you launch a Ferrari at high speeds, it will continue going away from earth if launched fast enough, but if it's not fast enough, will simply crash back down to earth

Ferrari paradox: If you speed a Ferrari fast enough into a garage too small to properly contain the flames of the Ferrari the temporal compression of relativity means the Ferrari and its flames will briefly fit, right up until it crashes and explodes (Corollary: If the back is open, it will all briefly fit as it streaks through like a comet... on fire.

Maxwell's demon: If you have an equal number of Ferrari's in two adjacent garages, and have a demon move any which light on fire in Garage A to Garage B, and any which don't light on fire from Garage B to Garage A, you have reversed Entropy AND minimized the fire hazard of containing Ferraris in a garage.

Quantum suicide: If you drive a Ferrari and it has a 50/50 chance of spontaneously combusting, you will always perceive it not on fire, because if it combusts you will die, but the you in another parallel dimension will survive the experience, and no matter how often you repeat this, it will remain the only possible outcome.

Twin Paradox: I forget exactly what happens in this one, something about rockets and relativity and aging, so let's just say that one of them drives a Ferrari and dies a fiery death and leave it at that.

Photo of sculptures of three dead Greek guys: mararie

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Congratulations, Mr.Mr.Mr.DennyCraneDennyCraneDennyCrane, on your excellent COTD today! I would like to gift you with a Ferrari, which this lovely lady will bring to you as soon as she pulls her shorts up and loads a few fire extinguishers.