##### 1: Everything in This Lecture Is False

Plunge into the world of paradoxes and puzzles with a "strange loop," a self-contradictory problem from which there seems no escape. Two examples: the liar's paradox and the barber's paradox. Then "prove" that 1+1=1, and visit the Island of Knights and Knaves, where only the logically minded survive!...

33 min
##### 2: Elementary Math Isn't Elementary

Discover why all numbers are interesting and why 0.99999... is nothing less than the number 1. Learn that your intuition about breaking spaghetti noodles is probably wrong. Finally, see how averages-from gas mileage to the Dow Jones Industrial Average-can be deceptive....

28 min

Investigate a puzzle that defied some of the most brilliant minds in mathematics: the Monty Hall problem, named after the host of Let's Make a Deal! Hall would let contestants change their guess about the location of a hidden prize after revealing new information about where it was not. Also consider how subtle changes of wording-"my elder child is a girl" vs. "one of my children is a girl"-change...

31 min
##### 4: Strangeness in Statistics

While some statistics are deliberately misleading, others are the product of confused thinking due to Simpson's paradox and similar errors of statistical reasoning. See how this problem arises in sports, social science, and especially medicine, where even medical students and doctors can be misled....

31 min
##### 5: Zeno's Paradoxes of Motion

Tour a series of philosophical problems from 2,400 years ago: Zeno's paradoxes of motion, space, and time. Explore solutions using calculus and other techniques. Then look at the deeper philosophical implications, which have gained new relevance through the discoveries of modern physics....

30 min
##### 6: Infinity Is Not a Number

The paradoxes associated with infinity are... infinite! Begin with strategies for fitting ever more visitors into a hotel that has an infinite number of rooms, but where every room is already occupied. Also sample a selection of supertasks, which are exercises with an infinite number of steps that are completed in finite time....

29 min
##### 7: More Than One Infinity

Learn how Georg Cantor tamed infinity and astonished the mathematical world by showing that some infinite sets are larger than others. Then use a matching game inspired by dodge ball to prove that the set of real numbers is infinitely larger than the set of natural numbers, which is also infinite....

31 min
##### 8: Cantor's Infinity of Infinities

Randomly pick a real number between 0 and 1. What is the probability that the number is a fraction, such as ¼? Would you believe that the probability is zero? Probe this and other mind-bending facts about infinite sets, including the discovery that made Cantor exclaim, "I see it, but I don't believe it!"...

33 min
##### 9: Impossible Sets

Delve into Bertrand Russell's profoundly simple paradox that undermined Cantor's theory of sets. Then follow the scramble to fix set theory and all of mathematics with a new set of axioms, designed to avoid all paradoxes and keep mathematics consistent-a goal that was partly met by the Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory....

29 min
##### 10: Godel Proves the Unprovable

Study the discovery that destroyed the dream of an axiomatic system that could prove all mathematical truths-Kurt Gödel's demonstration that mathematical consistency is a mirage and that the price for avoiding paradoxes is incompleteness. Outline Gödel's proof, seeing how it relates to the liar's paradox from Lecture 1....

30 min

Learn that determining the will of the voters can require a mathematician. Delve into paradoxical outcomes of elections at national, state, and even club levels. Study Kenneth Arrow's Nobel prize-winning impossibility theorem, and assess the U.S. Electoral College system, which is especially prone to counterintuitive results....

30 min
##### 12: Why No Distribution Is Fully Fair

See how the founders of the U.S. struggled with a mathematical problem rife with paradoxes: how to apportion representatives to Congress based on population. Consider the strange results possible with different methods and the origin of the approach used now. As with voting, discover that no perfect system exists....

29 min
##### 13: Games with Strange Loops

Leap into puzzles and mind-benders that teach you the rudiments of game theory. Divide loot with bloodthirsty pirates, ponder the two-envelope problem, learn about Newcomb's paradox, visit the island where everyone has blue eyes, and try your luck at prisoner's dilemma....

32 min
##### 14: Losing to Win, Strategizing to Survive

Continue your exploration of game theory by spotting the hidden strange loop in the unexpected exam paradox. Next, contemplate Parrando's paradox that two losing strategies can combine to make a winning strategy. Finally, try increasingly more challenging hat games, using the Axiom of Choice from set theory to perform a miracle....

29 min
##### 15: Enigmas of Everyday Objects

Classical mechanics is full of paradoxical phenomena, which Professor Kung demonstrates using springs, a slinky, a spool, and oobleck (a non-Newtonian fluid). Learn some of the physical principles that make everyday objects do strange things. Also discussed (but not demonstrated): how to float a cruise ship in a gallon of water....

30 min
##### 16: Surprises of the Small and Speedy

Investigate the paradoxes of near-light-speed travel according to Einstein's special theory of relativity. Separated twins age at different rates, dimensions contract, and other weirdness unfolds. Then venture into the quantum realm to explore the curious nature of light and the true meaning of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle....

33 min
##### 17: Bending Space and Time

Search for the solutions to classic geometric puzzles, including the vanishing leprechaun, in which 15 leprechauns become 14 before your eyes. Next, scratch your head over a missing square, try to connect an array of dots with the fewest lines, and test yourself with map challenges. Also learn how to ride a bicycle with square wheels....

30 min
##### 18: Filling the Gap between Dimensions

Enter another dimension-a fractional dimension! First, hone your understanding of dimensionality by solving the riddle of Gabriel's horn, which has finite volume but infinite surface area. Then venture into the fractal world of Sierpinski's triangle, which has ?1.58 dimensions, and the Menger sponge, which has ?2.73 dimensions....

32 min
##### 19: Crazy Kinds of Connectedness

Visit the land of topology, where one shape morphs into another by stretching, pushing, pulling, and deforming-no cutting or gluing allowed. Start simply, with figures such as the Möbius strip and the torus. Then get truly strange with the Klein bottle and the Alexander horned sphere. Study the minimum number of colors needed to distinguish their different spaces....

31 min
##### 20: Twisted Topological Universes

Consider the complexities of topological surfaces. For example, a Möbius strip is non-orientable, which means that left and right switch as you move around it. Watch as Professor Kung plays catch with himself in a 3-torus, and twists his way through a quarter-turn manifold!...

31 min
##### 21: More with Less, Something for Nothing

Many puzzles are optimization problems in disguise. Discover that nature often reveals shortcuts to the solutions. See how light, bubbles, balloons, and other phenomena provide powerful hints to these conundrums. Close with the surprising answer to the Kakeya needle problem to determine the space required to turn a needle completely around....

29 min
##### 22: When Measurement Is Impossible

Prove that some sets can't be measured-a result that is crucial to understanding the Banach-Tarski paradox, the strangest theorem in all of mathematics, which is presented in Lecture 23. Start by asking why mathematicians want to measure sets. Then learn how to construct a non-measurable set....

34 min
##### 23: Banach-Tarski's 1 = 1 + 1

The Banach-Tarski paradox shows that you can take a solid ball, split it into six pieces, reassemble three of them into a complete ball the same size as the original, and reassemble the other three into another complete ball, also the same size as the original. Professor Kung explains the mathematics behind this astonishing result....

33 min

Close the course by asking the big questions about puzzles and paradoxes: Why are we so obsessed with them? Why do we relish the mental dismay that comes from contemplating a paradox? Why do we expend so much effort trying to solve conundrums and riddles? Professor Kung shows that there's method to this madness!...

32 min
David Kung

I've loved both math and music since I was a kid. I was thrilled to discover the many connections between these two passions of mine. Sharing that excitement with Great Courses customers has been incredibly gratifying.

ALMA MATER

University of Wisconsin

INSTITUTION

St. Mary’s College of Maryland