The Logic Puzzles Of Raymond Smullyan; Updated With Solution

Update: Scroll to the bottom of this post to see the solution to Smullyan’s logic puzzle discussed below. Raymond Smullyan has written many books. What is the Name of This Book?, published in 1978, is a collection of logic puzzles and paradoxes that culminate in a development of Gödel‘s incompleteness theorem. The first page of Chapter … Read more

A Math Prof, A Psych Prof, And A Mysterious Black Dog

Once upon a time, a mathematics professor (whom I shall call Professor M) from a North American university was regaling a small group of professors and graduate students with some anecdotes concerning a psychology professor (whom I shall call Professor P) and a mysterious black dog (whom I shall call B). A that time, the … Read more

Time Variation Of Pi

Since at least as far back as the work of Dirac in 1937 (see here), there has been discussion about whether the fundamental constants of physics might vary with time. Unfortunately, some of these ideas have been stretched by young-earth creationists, in a completely unscientific way, to bolster their hypothesis that the universe was created … Read more

Words, Episode 5: World Record Super-Alliteration?

Many years ago I took a course on writing led by a wonderful man (whose name I now forget) who was a veteran of the newspaper business. He remarked one day on how difficult it is to write newspaper headlines, and that most newspapers had an editor who did nothing else but write headlines. Article … Read more

One-Upmanship Among Scientists

If you like scientific humour, the wonderful online comic xkcd is worth checking out. The comic referred to in the title is here. I suppose philosophers would place themselves even further to the right, don’t you think? (This post first appeared at my other (now deleted) blog, and was transferred to this blog on 25 … Read more

Failing to Succeed

My mother was on her deathbed in 1954 (before I was born), and received the last rites. That she is still alive, and still living independently, is an inspiration to me, and a testament to the power of persistence. A great man once told me that his biggest successes came about because of his “sheer … Read more

Double Rainbow: What Does it Mean?

After posting on the meaning of weather forecasting, I can’t resist pointing your attention to a unique video on double rainbows and the question of what they mean. The heartfelt expression of awe captured in this video gained widespread attention on the web, and the author of the work was extensively interviewed soon after it … Read more

Black Earth Into Yellow Crocus

Perhaps my favourite joke of all time is actually an anecdote that I read in the wonderful book Thirty Years that Shook Physics, by George Gamow. The book is available in an inexpensive Dover edition, and would make a fine complement to a course textbook in modern physics, which amounts to introductory quantum mechanics. Gamow … Read more