You know how Kirk is always talking master computers to death?
Computers that have usually just killed a bunch of people?
Well, who are the most killable people on Star Trek (or on any Sci-Fi show in general)? Redshirts.
So, I thought I'd do the multiverse a public service and teach redshirts about Russell's paradox as a way to talk computers to death.
Some sets, such as the set of all teacups, are not members of themselves. Other sets, such as the set of all non-teacups, are members of themselves. Call the set of all sets that are not members of themselves "R." If R is a member of itself, then by definition it must not be a member of itself. Similarly, if R is not a member of itself, then by definition it must be a member of itself. Discovered by Bertrand Russell in 1901, the paradox has prompted much work in logic, set theory and the philosophy and foundations of mathematics.
Old Tiberius, of course, has killed computers with simpler paradoxes before, such as utility conflict between Asimov's Zeroth and First Laws. Silver-tongued devil that he was, he could probably kill one with an omega combinator. Of course, computers of "his day" (1969 displaced) would intone "
SUBMIT TO THE WILL OF LANDRU" and the like.
Some don't like Russell, Whitehead, and Hardy so much on USENET (especially the more Americans in
alt.fan.tolkien) because all three men were agnostics, but I'm sure the convert_me crowd and aspiring philosophers such as oikade make a point of reading and thinking a lot about their work on the foundations of logic and mathematics. All the mathematicians (of whom there are too many to enumerate on my friends list) should, too!
In other news: Kudos to narvi for having the courage to go here at midnight last night.