Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mathematical Koan

A koan is a story, dialog, question, or statement generally containing aspects that are inaccessible to rational understanding, yet that may be accessible to intuition. A famous koan is, "Two hands clap and there is a sound; what is the sound of one hand?"

After you've pondered that for a while, try this true/false math quiz koan:
Determine whether the following sentence is true or false:

"This sentence is false."
(If that isn't hurting your brain, you answered incorrectly.)


Nethe said...

Hi Heidi!
Thanks for teaching me a new word, and giving me something to ponder as I spend my Saturday on the couch with a chill and fever (autumn has set on Tromsø, Norway).
I just can´t help answering your koan about the sound one hand makes, and feeling just a little cheeky. Cause I suspect my answer is not what is meant by posing a koan. Well here is my answer: two hands make clapping so that means one hand… - makes clapping too!
Many people, me included, can actually clap with one hand!
How to do it? I bet your son can do it, so ask him. Otherwise, make your fingers relax, flex your wrist as far back as it goes and keep it locked in this position as you whip your for-arm vigorously back and forth around a vertical mean position. Your fingers whip against the root of your hand. Now you try it!

Heidi said...

Wow! Here I was hurting people's brains, and I ended up with a hurt wrist (just a little). Yes, it is possible to hear the sound of one hand clapping!

It's good to hear from you, and good to see you posting again as well. Your current post really touched and moved me.

I'm sorry to hear you're not feeling well and hope you will be doing much better very soon!