Monday, January 31, 2011
Then she made the mistake of going somewhere with our daughters and leaving me alone with the cake. She thought the cake was safe, because she left what she thought were clear instructions. "Kuri," she said. "You can eat half the cake, but no more. Save half for us. Understand?"
"Yeah, sure." As soon as they left, I ate half the cake. It was good cake. I wanted more, but I'd already eaten half.
But then something occurred to me: H had said I could only eat half the cake, but she'd never said how many times I could eat half the cake. So I ate half of what was left.
It was good cake. So I ate another half. And then another.
By then there wasn't much cake left. But I'd never eaten more than half of it at one time. That's when I realized that I'd made an exciting discovery: no matter how many times I ate half the cake, there would always be half left! First I'd eaten half. Then I'd eaten half of the half. Then half of the half of the half. Then half of the half of the half of the half.
And I could keep on doing this as many times as I wanted! I could actually get an infinite number of halves from one cake this way! I could spend eternity just eating halves of cake, because I'd never run out! I'd discovered infinite regress in a cake!
I could hardly wait to tell H what I'd learned. But when she came home, she didn't share my enthusiasm. In fact, she was angry! All she seemed to care about was that fifteen-sixteenths of the cake was gone. My explanation that I'd never eaten more than half of it at any one time fell on deaf ears. And she didn't care at all about infinite regress.
She made me go out and get another cake. And I had to promise not to eat any of it. I love H, but some people just aren't very interested in science.
Follow me on Twitter