Monday, August 02, 2010

Bend Your Mind Around This

A few months ago ListVerse had a Top 11 of brain-twisting paradoxes. Among them was this fun one at #4:

Suppose there is a town with just one male barber; and that every man in the town keeps himself clean-shaven: some by shaving themselves, some by attending the barber. It seems reasonable to imagine that the barber obeys the following rule: He shaves all and only those men in town who do not shave themselves.

Under this scenario, we can ask the following question: Does the barber shave himself?
Asking this, however, we discover
that the situation presented is in fact impossible:

- If the barber does not shave himself, he must abide by the rule and shave himself.
- If he does shave himself, according to the rule he will not shave himself
Of course the #1 brain-twister is the age-old one of an irresistible force meeting immovable object. Like all mind-benders of this sort it is unanswerable since it would take an infinite amount of energy to be irresistible or immovable.

But perhaps more importantly it was reported a few weeks ago that British scientists have "cracked" the greatest mystery of the chicken or egg. And the answer (with drum roll, please) is:
The Chicken
It has something to do with certain chemicals or proteins that control egg production which needs a chicken to exist. Here's a link to an article on MSNBC.

In case you are interested, it is reported in a scholarly paper with the exciting and enticing title of Structural Control Of Crystal Nuclei By An Eggshell Protein.


Anonymous said...

The barber paradox - I love this! This was my first introduction to Russell's Paradox. A simplistic version of the mathematical answer is that you can't make the collection of people who shave themselves be the same kind of collection as that of just 'all people'.

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