Math for adults: the subtle wonder of numbers and Sesame Street

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13 Responses to “Math for adults: the subtle wonder of numbers and Sesame Street”

  1. IamInnocent says:

    “Six fish” they say? Wouldn’t that be “six fishes? Well, I do not know-o…

  2. Marchhare says:

    Many philosopher think for reasons similar to those you articulated that numbers don’t exist in our minds and are mind-independent in the way that stars are. See, e.g.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/platonism-mathematics/

  3. Anonymous says:

    @Marchhare: He comes across very much a realist: “Viewed in this light, numbers start to seem a bit mysterious. They apparently exist in some sort of Platonic realm, a level above reality”.

    A lot of mathematicians are constructivist/idealists, and consider mathematical entities to be ideas (mental constructions) that exist only in our heads. (We communicate things about them in language, which is why we share the same notions.)

    Oh yeah, a lot of the mathematics behind computer science is constructivist: Curry-Howard correspondence between proofs and computer programs, constructive set theory/dependent type theory, etc.

  4. Cheqyr says:

    No no no. Red Dwarf already proved that saying “fish” six times is superior because it’s much funnier…

    Dispensing Machine: Hello. How can I help you?
    Cat: Fish!
    Dispensing Machine: (spits out a fish) Today’s fish is Trout a la Creme, enjoy your meal.
    Cat: Fish!
    Dispensing Machine: (spits out a fish) Today’s fish is Trout a la Creme, enjoy your meal.
    Cat: Fish!
    Dispensing Machine: (spits out a fish) Today’s fish is Trout a la Creme, enjoy your meal.
    Cat: Fish!
    Dispensing Machine: (spits out a fish) Today’s fish is Trout a la Creme, enjoy your meal.
    Cat: Fish!
    Dispensing Machine: (spits out a fish) Today’s fish is Trout a la Creme, enjoy your meal.
    Cat: Fish!
    Dispensing Machine: (spits out a fish) Today’s fish is Trout a la Creme, enjoy your meal.
    Cat: I will.

    • dculberson says:

      The Cat is my favorite character.

      “Time to do somethin’ secret!”

    • PaulR says:

      I used to have two cats. I called them for their afternoon treats by using the exact same “Fish!” that Cat did. They even asked for it by name.

      No, it wasn’t trout à la crème, nor was it served in a styrofoam box. But they did get six pieces.

  5. Pipenta says:

    It is six fish, if they are all the same species. If, however, the penguins had a mixed order, say five herring and a cod, then it would be fishes. As the birds didn’t specify, it could be either or. Then again, they might have been ordering from the room service menu, which we haven’t seen. So perhaps they know that the only fish the hotel kitchen stocks is trout, exotic fare for a penguin! That’s one kind of fish, so the plural is simply “fish”.

  6. sfazzios says:

    Unfortunately, the clip ends just before the scene where Ernie justifies his fish counting system using the Peano axioms.

    • Anonymous says:

      ha funny I literally have a test on the Peano Axioms in 2hrs… coming to boingboing for a little distraction and I see this.

  7. Anonymous says:

    My wife and I have been renting the original Sesame Street episodes on DVD for our toddler, and I am happily astonished at how awesome that show really is. I grew up with it in the 70′s and 80′s, but had forgotten just how clever, funny, positive and educational that show really is. Highly recommended, you adults will enjoy it as much as your kids.

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