Winston Churchill is a carrot

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Discus: College Admissions: March 2004 Archive: Winston Churchill is a carrot
 By Marite (Marite) on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 06:01 pm: Edit

Okay, folks. I did not want to hijack the thread on the rights and wrongs of the selection of valedictorians, but wanted to respond to a request for proof. A little sleuthing while S is still with his Science Team revealed that the proof that Winston Churchill was a carrot comes as Appendix A of Charles Seife, Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea.

"Let a and b each be equal to 1. Since a and b are equal, b^2=ab (eq.1)
Since a equals itself, it is obvious that
a^2=a^2 (eq.2)
Subtract equation 1 from equation 2. This yields
a^2-b^2=a^2-ab (eq.3)
We can factor both sides of the equation a^2-ab equals a(a-b). Likewise, a^2-b^2 equals (a+b)(a-b). (Nothing fishy is going on here. This statement is perfectly true. Plug in numbers and see for yourself!) Substituting into equation 3, we get
(a+b)(a-b)= a(a-b) (eq. 4)
So far, so good. Now divide both sides of the equation by (a-b) and we get
a+b=a (eq. 5)
Subtract a from both sides and we get
b=0 (eq. 6)
But we set b to 1 at the very begining of this proof , so this means that 1=0 (eq. 7)

This is an important result. Going futher, we know that Winston Churchill had one head. But one equals zero by equation 7, so that means that Winston has no head. Likewise, Churchill has zero leafy tops, therefore he has one leafy top. Multiplying both sides of equation 7 by 2, we see that
2=0
Churchill has two legs, therefore he has no legs. Churchill has two arms, therefore he has no arms. Now multiply equation 7 by Winston Churchill's waist in inches. This means that
(Winston's waist size)=0 (eq.9)
This means that Winston Churchill tapers to a point. Now, what color is Winston Churchill? Take any beam of light that comes from him and select a photon. Multiply equation 7 by the wavelength, and we see that
(Winston's photon's wavelength)=0 (eq. 10)
But multiplying equation 7 by 640 nanometers, we see that
640=0 (eq. 11)
Combining equation 10 and 11, we see that
(Winston's photon's wavelength)=640 nanometers
This means that this photon--or any other photon that comes from Mr. Churchill-- is orange. Therefore, Winston Churchill is a bright shade of orange.
To sum up, we have proved, mathematically, that Winston Churchill has no arms and no legs; instead of a head, he has a leafy top; he tapers to a point; and he is bright orange. Clearly, Winston Churchill is a carrot. (There is a simpler way to prove this. Adding 1 to both sides of equation 7 gives the equation 2=1.
Winston Churchill and a carrot are two different things, therefore they are one thing. But that's not nearly as satisfying.)"

Charles Seife, Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea, (Viking, 2000), pp. 217-9.

There is a concluding paragraph that I won't quote about the importance of using zero wisely. Cheers.

 By Chardonnay (Chardonnay) on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 06:08 pm: Edit

oh fun, i think i see the trick. you can't divide both sides by (a-b), since that's dividing by 0, right? still, that's hilarious.

 By Ohio_Mom (Ohio_Mom) on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 06:21 pm: Edit

Thanks, Marite!

 By Succor101 (Succor101) on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 09:37 pm: Edit

nice-I've seen the math proof before, but never the part about Churchill being a carrot.

 By Emokidsunite (Emokidsunite) on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 09:41 pm: Edit

what. am i the only person who's completely lost?

 By Daggerlee (Daggerlee) on Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - 09:44 pm: Edit

Emokidsunite, I'm lost too. Winston Churchill was clearly a turnip - not a carrot, as the proof states...