The Space Needle is My Neighbor

"A mind stretched by a new idea can never go back to its original dimensions." - Oliver Wendell Holmes
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Friday, May 12, 2006

Zeno's Paradox - Achilles & The Tortoise

"You Can Never Catch Up."

Zeno was a Greek philosopher who lived from 490 BC to 425 BC. There is some speculation as to whether he formulated his arguments simply to poke holes in the prevailing philosophical views of space and motion as they existed during his younger years, or if he meant them to be taken seriously. My interpretation (to the left) lets you know that I'm still "on the fence".

In the paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise, we imagine the Greek hero Achilles in a footrace with the plodding reptile. Because he is so fast a runner, Achilles graciously allows the tortoise a head start of a hundred feet. If we suppose that each racer starts running at some constant speed (one very fast and one very slow), then after some finite time, Achilles will have run a hundred feet, bringing him to the tortoise's starting point; during this time, the tortoise has "run" a (much shorter) distance, say one foot. It will then take Achilles some further period of time to run that distance, during which the tortoise will advance farther; and then another period of time to reach this third point, while the tortoise moves ahead. Thus, whenever Achilles reaches somewhere the tortoise has been, he still has farther to go. Therefore, Zeno says, swift Achilles can never overtake the tortoise. Thus, while common sense and common experience would hold that one runner can catch another, according to the above argument, he cannot; this is the paradox.

So this is another piece of my work, and it's based on Zeno's Paradox regarding the never-ending race. If you look closely, you can see the tortoise plodding away, off to the right. At the left, the figure of Achilles is depicted on the Grecian urn on the pedestal. The woman leaning against the wooden wheel is either dreaming about the outcome of the race or is simply too tired from dealing with the complexities of her own life and is taking a well-deserved nap in her beautiful garden.


Blogger Federico Perazzoni said...



1:34 PM  
Blogger FancyPants said...

What a nice guy-I just sent him a "thanks" and he emailed right back. J thinks he looks like the "Italian George Clooney". I can see it.....

2:53 PM  
Blogger Peri said...

Well....holy smokes! I'm's...

OK, WOW is good. That works for me, so my comment is "What Federico says!"

Also, my head hurts now from having to think about this. A little more coffee and another smoke and I'll be able to say "Sure! It's obvious, innit?"

6:33 AM  
Blogger Peri said...

Oh, and you asked me a question about bizness over at my place, which I will attempt to answer in an email.

(You're a smartypants, too, aren't you? I'll have to remember I can't misdirect you =D)

6:36 AM  
Blogger FancyPants said...

Need the "bizness" update!

10:31 PM  

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