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 The Retaliation of the Mathematician (Storytime)

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PostSubject: The Retaliation of the Mathematician (Storytime)   Wed May 22, 2013 4:56 pm

Worthington Pelleford had an unusual name. He was teased frequently for it and so he soon learned how to do the art of cruelty himself. When the hawkish looking mathematician from another continent showed and talked with a funny sound, Worth made sure everyone knew that the guy talked like a leprechaun.

"Lep! How’s it going Lep? Find me some gold yet Lep? I got a rainbow for you Lep! Yes I have a nickname, Lep, but I’m not going to tell you, Lep."

One night Worth started enjoying his fun on a mathematician who was particularly not happy. He had just found out his recent math manuscript had been rejected by the publisher of a math journal. It was not his night to be a leprechaun, so he turned so Worth could not see his face. After a few seconds, he washed the look of hate off of his face with a new smile and he turned to look at Worth.

"May I buy you a drink?"

Worthington had some skills for this sort of situation and he was quickly congratulating the mathematician and smiling and boisterously admitting that he knew nothing of the subject. He also played the name card and learned that the name of the mathematician was Richard Dedekind.

"I see addition when I get my paycheck, so addition is good."

"Yes," Dedekind agreed. "You actually just hit on the pot of gold that led to the creation of algebra."

"Pot of gold?"

"I’m a leprechaun, remember?" Dedekind smiled.

"Oh right, sorry about that."

"I have an idea. There is trick in math that you might find interesting. Are you interested? Let me get you another drink before we start if you are."

"Yeah, sure!"

"Truth is important. Let’s assume we want to see if something is true for every positive number. When I say number I mean 1,2,3,4 and so on.. Let’s say it takes us twenty seconds of work to prove it for one, then it takes us twenty seconds of work to prove it for two, and then we see it takes twenty seconds to prove it for any number."

"But there are so many numbers, you will die before you finish," Worth argued.

"True. So we need some magic. Have another drink."

Worth obliged.

"Now, let’s say I do ten minutes worth of work to prove that if we have it for a number n then we have it for a number n+1. If I have it for 5, then I have it for 6. If I have it for 120 then I have it for 121. I can pick any number and if I do the 20 seconds of work for that number and prove it to be true for that number then I have the next number."

"I got it," Worth said. "It’s easy."

"O.K. Now, what if we start at 1? From 1 we get 2. From 2 we get 3. From 3 we get 4."

"Hey, all you are doing is counting."

"Yes, if we prove it for 1 then I have every number that there is."

"It’s like dominos!" Worth exclaimed and he chugged on his drink.

"Yes. We call it inductive logic or induction and it is a tool so powerful I like to pretend it is magic. Remember, I had to do two things to make the magic work."

"Yeah , yeah, I got it!" Worth was triumphant, taking another drink and enjoying the feeling as his head was spinning.

Five seconds later Ned lost his mind.

Voices kept talking and if someone stood and front of him and wanted to talk at the same time it was strenuous to try to hear both of them. It got worse when he would have spells that every few seconds his world would start spinning. He could correct it by walking forward and then turning enough to counter and stop the spining, but what if he was walking across a busy street and this would mean turning into the path of an oncoming bus?

He found a place where there were never any buses or almost never any people and yet there were buildings. He could merge what he heard with what he saw safely and should someone approach him to talk, they were almost always interested in only one thing and he could get rid of them quickly.
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