Monday, September 27, 2010

Space and Motion Theory

Many years ago I attended a lecture by the philosopher, H. Youngman.  His ideas seemed slightly complex until he recited real-life examples of his theories.  As well as I can remember them, I relate two of them here:

Firstly, Mr. Youngman described a visit to a rural college town and his experience with the room he rented at the one local hotel.  He discovered the room was so small that when he put the key in the door, it broke the window.
Now, of course, we know this is not possible in any real sense yet we accept the concept of this space as described by Youngman for the power it has to make us laugh.  The impossible size of the room becomes possible indeed, and he proves that space is relative in size to the need that it fills, and that the need that it fills is inversely proportional to the space it occupies.

Then Mr. Youngman addressed his ideas on the laws of motion by describing an experience in a restaurant.  When the Maitre'd asked Youngman where he would like to sit, Youngman replied that he wants to be seated near a waiter.
The Maitre'd replied that this was not possible.  If such a request could be met, it would mean that the waiter was stationary and therefore not moving and serving and waiting on his appointed tables as he should.  Such a man would not be employed by any restaurant worthy of its name.
If, on the other hand, the waiter is a superior performer, then he is constantly on the move attending to the needs of the diners in his purview.  This desirable motion, however, would make it very unlikely that Mr. Youngman's request could be fulfilled as the waiter he wants is not near the empty table that will be his place to be served.
Mr. Youngman went on to say that he had a wonderful dinner, and was well-served; that it lacked only a companion for discussion of paradoxes.  Zeno, he said, yes, Zeno.  He and I, Youngman said, could have retired to the lounge for some wine and delightful conversation.  I would have liked that, Youngman said.

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