Open Thread: Opposite Day


Conor P. Williams

Conor Williams on Twitter. More background here.

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58 Responses

  1. Conor, do you ever worry that your unwillingness to entertain comment sections is indicative of an unwillingness to consider different viewpoints?

    Also, wouldn’t you love to see the education sector completely privatized?

    If you don’t reply, I’m going to assume that the answer to each question is, “yes”.Report

  2. Avatar Jam3z Aitch says:

    I thought this would be a good post to intentionally pose as the creepy gnome dude and @mike-schilling’s avatar for some reason is making me hungry for pizza.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

      Get back in the kitchen, woman!Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      I should offer a prize to the first person who recognizes it.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        If it’s pizza, I’m in.

        Chicago style, Gino’s East? Delivered?Report

      • Avatar Johanna says:

        @mike-schilling That would be from Parks and Rec (a show I have never seen by the way) Will the prize include pizza?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I’m not at all surprised that you got it first, but if you’ve never seen the show, how?Report

      • Avatar Johanna says:

        good google karmaReport

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Unfortunately, none of my favorite pizza places deliver to Michigan. How about a post on a subject that you choose?Report

      • Avatar Johanna says:

        Hmm I’m thinking about a San Francisco housing related post for opposite day or an intersting math post someone who is math challenged could like.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I don’t know much about SF housing, since I’ve never lived in The City itself (well, for a month after we moved here, but I was 4 at the time), so I’ll try to think of a good topic for the latter.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Mike, here’s a suggestion I’d like to read about: there’s a proof that you can break the surface of a sphere into pieces then reassemble them into a shape with a greater volume. Which seems crazy, to me anyway. You mathematicians seem to find this stuff “intuitive”.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I don’t think I can explain that one more simply than Wikipedia already does, certainly not in a piece of reasonable length. Even the basic underpinnings for it (measure theory and using the axiom of choice to create unmeasurable sets) would be hard to explain to someone without the requisite background.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Well, thanks for giving it a look. I’ll just have to settle back into my earlier view: that the conclusion holds because of magic.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Corollary to Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced mathematics is indistinguishable from magic.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Not sure if this will help, but:

        The reason it seems impossible is that the two spheres have twice the volume of the single sphere, and you’d expect cutting a sphere into pieces and reassembling the pieces to preserve volume. That is, I have a sphere of volume 1, and I cut it into four pieces of volume 1/4 each, it seems like whatever I make with those four pieces would also have volume 1. And that’s true.

        The thing is, some shapes are so weird that you can’t assign them a volume. (It’s the construction of these shapes and explaining why they don’t have a specific volume that I despair of trying to explain.) So if you cut the sphere into shapes like that and then reassemble them, you can’t apply the logic from the paragraph above, and so you can’t conclude that volume is preserved.Report

  3. Avatar Patrick says:

    People who open comments are fascists.Report

  4. Avatar Miss Mary says:


    Fish, now that I can comment, there’s nothing to say!Report

  5. On a more serious and non-opposite-day style note:

    Ever since the recent (by a few months, I think) threads on Conor’s decision not to allow comments, I’ve tried to really examine how much my commentary is for self-regard and how much is for the purposes of advancing discussion. At least some of the time, maybe even the majority of the time, I can’t definitively say that my commentary is not for self-regard. In other words, I think I’ve learned a lot and at least for me, am partially convinced by Conor’s argument.Report