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InvestiGration


Member

Posted Wed Sep 30th, 2009 2:24pm Post subject: How many Pebbles in a Pile?

Dear All,

I remeber seeing a bit on QI some time ago about the definition of a pile / heap, I'm looking for the correct reference to this quote / episode.

Mr. Fry quoted a Philosofer / linguist (not quite sure) that did an experiment with a pupil by continuously placing pebbles (or marbles) in front of him and asking when this amounted to being a pile (or heap). I believe the pupil answered that this was the case when there were 24 pebbles.

DOES THIS RING A BELL? I've been going over all the old episodes I can find but have as yet not found this bit.

Thanks!


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Fryphile


Member *

Posted Thu Oct 1st, 2009 2:26am Post subject: How many Pebbles in a Pile?

Greetings! Can't recall the QI episode, but a heap definition occured in Stephen's novel "The Stars' Tennis Balls" or "Revenge" as it was called in America. Fir cones were used in that instance.

You can always search http://www.qitranscripts.com.

I think of myself as someone who is filled with love, whose only purpose in life was to achieve love. - Stephen Fry

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gjhsu


Moderator

Posted Thu Oct 1st, 2009 4:36am Post subject: How many Pebbles in a Pile?

The heap paradox is also known as the Sorites Paradox, sorites being greek for 'heap.' It's originally attributed to Eubulides of Miletus. I believe Stephen was referencing Bertrand Russell in the episode you're talking about.


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