Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mathematician Has Something to Prove

We were in the car together when my daughter, who is studying logic, began telling me how illogical mathematicians can be. Her story involved something strange the great mathematician David Hilbert once did to a colleague, Brouwer.

Because of their dramatic difference of opinion about infinity, Hilbert concluded that his fellow mathematician was a danger to the field.

"So Hilbert had him thrown..." said Yasemin. Then, distracted by the exigencies of driving, she paused briefly. In that moment, my mind went into overdrive thinking of the possibilities, and the following riddle was born:

Where did Hilbert have Brouwer thrown?

a) under a moving train
b) down an abandoned mine shaft
c) off the international council of mathematicians
d) into a pond

Do you really want to know? The answer is posted in the comment below.

1 comment:

  1. For those not on Twitter, the correct answer is c.