The Monty Hall problem hearkens back to the good old days of game shows, like Let's Make a Deal (the host of which lends his name to this puzzle). Originally posed in 1975, the issue is as such:
You are a contestant on a game show, and given a choice of three doors. Behind one is a car, and behind the other two are less valuable prizes (goats). After picking a door, the host (who knows what is behind each door), opens a different door, which reveals a goat. He offers to let you switch to the third door. Which is more advantageous?Conventional wisdom makes people assume that there isn't any difference, and that each door still holds a 1/3 probability of having the car. However, this isn't true: switching doubles your chances at getting the car. For me, the best way to wrap my head around this was to establish that the choice isn't divided into even thirds. Instead, there is a 1/3 chance that the door picked (say #1 for example) has a 1/3 chance of being a car, while the other two not picked are a combined 2/3 chance. When the host opens door #3 (he has to pick one that he knows is a goat) and proves that there is no car behind it, the third door he offer to let you switch to (#2) still has a 2/3 chance of being the car; you've simply narrowed that same 2/3 probability down to one door instead of two. If it still seems hard to believe, go ahead and write out each permutation, you still get the car sixty seven percent of the time if you switch when offered.
|Awww... but it's cute!|
The other puzzle is sometimes jokingly called the buttered cat paradox. There are two conflicting adages involving the rotation of falling objects: that a cat always lands on its feet, and buttered toast always lands butter-side down. While the cat righting reflex is well-documented (though not always well understood), the toast one was disproved by an episode of Myth Busters; but the paradox must assume both are true. The problem posed is:
If cats always land on their feet, and buttered toast always lands butter down, what happened if you attach toast, butter up, to a cat and then drop them?Given that the thought exercise is entirely tongue-in-cheek, the "solution" are typically equally cheeky, such as the conflicting energies giving the cat and toast a state of perpetual hovering.
|WikiWorld comic by Greg Williams|
Pulgasari (불가사리) is a 1985 film created in North Korea that borrows heavily from Japanese kaiju styles, especially Godzilla. What's most interesting about it, however, is that the South Korean director (Shin Sang-ok) was kidnapped in 1978 at the request of Kim Jong-il (then son of ruler Kim Il-sung) to make such propaganda films. Toho Studies, the Japanese film company that created Godzilla, helped with special effects, which helped it secure a 1998 release in Japan. The Goryeo-era story is a clear metaphor criticizing capitalism, centering around the titular beast which eats metal. Pulgasari helps a province overthrow their oppressive governor, but becomes just as bad a burden.
|Who knew that the New York Post could be funny?|