Saturday, March 2, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: The Failure of Math

"A problem which reveals the failure of Math: there are 28 seats, all side-by-side in a row, along one wall of a bus depot. How many people do they seat?

"14, if no one is a dick, because generous people only take up three seats, one for the butt, and two as a barrier on either side so no one will sit near them. More likely, 12 or 13 people fit, though more if some arrive in couples without so much entitlement about baggage. You might squeeze 18 people onto 28 seats if you have some genuine humanitarians in the depot.

"Some may crunch the numbers and determine this is a failure of people. 28 human-sized seats ought to equal 28 sitting humans. It’s not math’s fault that it fails here. It is a doomed invention, doomed to the service of its inventors. Evolution has never been kind to inventions. It’s a grand tool for analyzing the universe, which is utterly broken by a simple bus depot."


  1. And it will hold even fewer if there are some economy sized butts in the mix. Not least because of the number of people who believe that fat is contagious and will want extra seats between them and the adipose tissue.

  2. utterly broken indeed! I always am fascinated by this. Every time I enter a hospital's waiting room it's such fun to watch the first person who has to sit between two others. They always look around the room like deer in headlights!


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