Greetings, Geeks! I bring tidings from just over the border in the land of Nerds.
So Futurama’s back. I didn’t watch all of the 5th season or any of the 6th (DVD only, right?), so I can’t be entirely sure, but a quick search-engine perusal suggests that they still haven’t done an episode about Hilbert’s Hotel, which is strange because it’s the perfect math joke to translate to cartoon. Futurama has already made jokes about the Grandfather Paradox, the Halting Problem, the Uncertainty Principle (“No fair! You changed the outcome by measuring it!”) and Aleph-null transfinite countability. This last is related to Hilbert’s Hotel.
A visitor to Hilbert’s Hotel might have the following conversation with the desk clerk.
“Hello. I’d like a room.”
“All our rooms are occupied right now.”
“Oh. So I can’t have a room?”
“Of course you can have a room. We’ll just move the guest in Room 1 to Room 2, the guest in Room 2 to Room 3, and so on.”
“Won’t you run out of rooms?”
“No. Hilbert’s Hotel has aleph-null rooms. We don’t have that problem.”
The next day, a tour bus with aleph-null tourists pulls into the lot. The tour guide makes arrangements with the desk clerk.
“I need aleph-null rooms for tonight.”
“All our rooms are full.”
“Oh. So you can’t accommodate us?”
“It’s no problem, sir. I’ll just move the guest from Room 1 to Room 2, the guest from Room 2 to Room 4, the guest from Room 3 to Room 6… you get the picture? Guest N goes to Room 2N. Now all the odd-numbered rooms are empty, and we can accommodate your tourists.”
Aleph-null is a kind of infinity, but the smallest kind. A larger kind of infinity is Aleph-1, a set of numbers which is uncountable. A hotel with Aleph-1 rooms (not Hilbert’s Hotel!) would be hard to picture: a hallway in this hotel would have the doors arranged so that between any two doors lay another door. So if you tried to walk down the hallway counting the doors you passed, you wouldn’t get beyond your first step.
An Aleph-1 hotel would be impossible to draw, so I don’t expect this one to make it to Futurama, or to any cartoon in the near future. But the show has already given us more math jokes than every other show in TV history combined, √66 (Route 66), πth Avenue (right after 3rd Avenue), Klein bottles of beer (A Klein bottle exists in four dimensions and has no inside or outside), etc. To complain would be churlish.
If reports are to be credited, Nintendo will try to sell games of the same marque and title—essentially the same games—for their old and new consoles at the same time. This strategy has never been attempted successfully before. (Sony is the pioneer here; in the months after the PS3 launched, it was outsold by the PS2!) Let us hope the strategy proves sound, otherwise we might see Nintendo get Sega’d by Apple, and suddenly we’ll all be playing Super Mario on our phones. That can’t be allowed to happen… can it?
Up, up and away!
A new-comer to the world of science-fiction tabletop games, Leviathans, made its world debut last month in Ohio after being mired in development purgatory (including some play-testing by Yours Truly) for about four years. The game is set in the early 20th century when the great powers of the world, England, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, and Japan, all make war on each other with Leviathans: giant, coal-powered airborne dreadnoughts. The game can handle engagements from flotilla-size (four ships to a player) to great armadas of twenty or more.
The game is presented by the current custodians of the BattleTech board game, and Leviathans shares some features with its older cousin. As yet there is no customization of ships or role-play aspect to the game, but one can hope for additional features after a successful launch.
By my reckoning there are fewer than 100 boxes in circulation at present, though that number should go up after the summer convention season winds down and the game starts making its way to retail shelves. I haven’t gotten to handle the finished product yet, but you can see images and video here at the official site.