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“Maybe the tortoise is on amphetamines”

8 October, 2010

A sentence I never thought I’d find myself saying in lectures. It did at least rouse some of the audience from torpor to chuckles/bafflement.

The context was a commentary/discussion on the Intermediate Value Theorem, which I’d just written up on the board, and which I was attempting to drum home by analogy. My example on the spur of a moment was a tortoise which is observed to be on one side of some dividing line, and then some time later is observed to be on the other side; and the point was that, while the IVT would tells us that the tortoise must have crossed the line at some point, we don’t know when or how often.

(Tortoises in free fall will probably appear if I ever get onto differential equations, mainly because, much as I love Small Gods, I can never quite make the sums add up for Om’s terminal velocity at the moment of truth.)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tim Porter permalink
    12 October, 2010 3:11 am

    Your link to Small Gods does not give very useful info at the moment. There is a Wikipedia page on the book. (I find that Pratchett is extremely useful for quotes and references. :-))

    • 13 October, 2010 2:38 pm

      Fair point (although I am curmudgeonly enough to think that a book title and author name are useful information in themselves, and that people can look up details if they want). I didn’t really want to link to the Wikipedia entry since it gives away the relevant plot point. That said, here is the link for those who are interested.

      The philosophers’ tussle in the pub in Ephebe does hit closer to home, the longer I spend in academia…

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