Tuesday, January 30, 2007


It always seemed like a simple mathematical property that 0.999... equaled one. Though unique in expression, the logic seemed inescapable. There is no number or value you can deduct from 1 that would give you this number, therefore they are equal. What I didn't realize was how contentious an issue this was, especially among news and chat groups. Just a quick search in the sci.math Google group returned nearly 1500 threads that have debated this topic. One with the search capabilities to tackle all the science, math, and computer e-groups worldwide would probably find over a million threads, all with similar bands of resistors up against similar unbeatable proofs. It was this popular debate on Blizzard Entertainment's video game forums that led to their April Fool's press conference a few years ago declaring once and for all that 0.999... does if fact equal one.

Similar debates on message boards have erupted between math amateurs and pros on just about every folk math oddity including infinity, pi, two squared, and the classical geometry problems (doubling the cube, squaring the circle, and angle trisection). If any further proof was needed about our ability to argue the ridiculous or the impossible, I give you the forums of the Flat Earth Society.


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