23 October 2006

Some of Us Are Born Finitists

Another Joseph story.

Tonight at dinner we found ourselves low on dessert, and, in fact, there was only one serving of ice cream for a child to enjoy. Two of the boys, alas, would have to have yogurt instead. We played a guessing game to see who would get the ice cream. "I've picked a number between zero and ten," I said, "and whoever guesses it first can have the ice cream."

The three boys kept guessing numbers for round after round ("Is it six?" "Is it eight?"...) but, as it happens and improbably, they kept failing to pick the one I had decided upon (the number two).

After three rounds and the number still not picked, having lost sight it seems of the numbers that remained unselected, Joseph asked, somewhat desperately:

"Is it the nothing that's between two numbers?"