Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Immovability

The scientists at BIPM were sitting around in the laboratory one day, bemoaning the fact that the International Prototype Kilogram was getting fat, when God appeared as if from nowhere.

“Bonjour tout le monde!  Comment allez vous?”  He said, in perfect French, before changing to English (which will, I assure you, make this whole thing a lot easier).  “Thou hast a kilogram problem.  I shalt solve said problem by creating for thee and thine a perfect cylinder of perfectly pure divinium (TM) that weigheth precisely one kilogram.  Here thou goest!”

God waved His arms impressively and a cylinder appeared in the air in the middle of laboratory.

“Ye obviously hath noticed that the new Divine Prototype Kilogram (DPK for short) art apparently floating in the air.  But nay, it floateth not!  Yonder DPK art not only perfect in its construction, dimensions and weight – yea verily it art immoveable.  Hie ye, scientific peons, attempt to smite mine DPK such that it moveth and ye shall find that it moveth NOT!”

After a few minutes during with the scientists translated what God has been talking about, they took up the challenge.  They tried to push and pull the DPK manually, then with ropes, then with a pulley arrangement – to no avail.  The DPK would not move.

“Fear not, mes enfants!” said God “Ye canst prevail over mine DPK so easily, nay, nor shall ye render harm unto mine DPK.  Have a real crack at it, garçons!”

“Zut alors, God, I’m a lady scientist!” said one of the scientists, “But ok, we’ll have another go.”

However, despite all their efforts, including sledge hammers, pneumatic tools, cranes and even a bulldozer, nothing could shift the DPK.  The scientists had to admit that God had created an immoveable object.

“Merci,” said God.  “Now, for my next trick, I shalt move mine immoveable DPK and properly resolve the age old paradox.”

Again, God waved his hands impressively and, to the amazement of the scientists (even including the lady scientist who was still a bit miffed), the DPK moved 50 metres to the right.

“Sacré bleu!” they exclaimed.  “God moved the DPK even though we just comprehensively demonstrated to be immoveable!”

“However,” said the lady scientist, in a bit of a huff, “You just moved the DPK, therefore it is [b][i]not[/i][b] immoveable!  The paradox stands, you can’t make an immoveable object!”

God smiled and merely directed the attention of the scientists to the world outside the window.  The entire laboratory was now 50 metres to the left.  “Watch!”

Again there was an impressive waving of hands and this time, the scientists could see that DPK remained stationary as the entire laboratory moved back to where it was previously.

“Aha!” exclaimed the lady scientist. “So you can’t move the immoveable object after all – you cheated by moving the laboratory around the DPK.  The paradox still stands.”

God took on a slightly smitey expression and waved his hands again, somewhat less impressively.  The DKP, once again, moved 50 metres to the right.  The scientists looked out the window and saw that they were precisely where they were before.

The lady scientist looked a bit flustered.  “We’re just back where we started, you know, now you actually [b][i]have[/i][/b] moved your immoveable object, which means the paradox still stands unless … unless …” She paused as realisation dawned.  God assumed a smug expression.  “Dammit, you just moved the universe and everything in it to the left by 50 metres, didn’t you?”

“Something like that,” said God, accidentally slipping into modern vernacular.  “Thanks to my old buddy Einstein, I solved this paradox ages ago.  Relatively speaking there’s no functional difference between me moving the entire universe with the exception of the DPK and me moving the DPK itself.  If I want to make an immoveable object, I can.  If I then want to move it, I can – while it actually remains immoveable.”


“But …!” started the lady scientist, but God had gone.