Anecdotes from the Matrix

Posted on November 11, 2004 by Jenna

← Previous | Next →

So a famous scientist once gave a lecture on astronomy, and afterwards, an old lady approached him.

“What you said is rubbish!” she said. “The world is a flat landmass on the back of a giant turtle.”

“Ah, ” said the scientist. “But what is the turtle standing on?”

“A bigger turtle!” she responded.

“And that turtle?” the scientist said.

“Memory overflow error,” declared the old woman, and vanished.

A student once told Dijkstra, “Each two years doubles the speed at which new graduate students can compute. A genius in your time, you are already obsolete.”

“In ten seconds,” Dijkstra said, “I will think of a paradox. Can you tell me what it is?”

The student thought for five seconds, and then derezzed.

In this fashion Dijkstra learned that the GOTO statement is in fact harmful.

Knuth spoke to two students.

“I have written a program that can solve the halting problem,” the first student told Knuth.

“Then the entire world in which we’re having this conversation cannot exist,” Knuth answered.

“Zing!” declared the second student, and snapped her fingers in a Z.

“This isn’t right,” said Professor James Hook, glaring at the student’s paper. “This isn’t even wrong.”

To demonstrate, he put his hand right through the paper and into a terrible interdimensional space. This was how he lost his hand and also how undefined values first tasted human blood.

Some people say the woman in the first anecdote didn’t vanish at all. Her eyes went blank and grey and she began spontaneously reciting tomorrow’s NYSE prices. The NYSE responded the only way they could: they stuck her in a back room and hooked her up to the ticker.

Ever since stocks have been traded at tomorrow’s prices rather than today’s!