Dreaming of Zeno’s Paradox

02.27.12


I’ve asked Alexander about his dreams for as long as he could speak. Most often he tells me he doesn’t remember them, on occasion he tells me he doesn’t want to tell me. He’s a tight lipped kid and no amount of coaxing or cajoling will make him open up if he doesn’t feel like it.

This morning, this beautiful morning when Alexander is 3,866 days old he shared his dream with me for the very first time. As we were walking downstairs to breakfast he said, “this is just like my dream. In my dream last night I was showing you Zeno’s paradox.”

“What is Zeno’s paradox?” I asked. I was so excited that he was telling me about a dream.

“Well, the one I was showing you in my dream is that nothing really moves.” And then he went on to explain that in order to walk down the stairs you’d have to start by walking down half of them and of course to accomplish that you’d have to walk down half of them, and the movement gets halved infinitely and motion is really not happening, it’s just an illusion. There are other paradoxes attributed to Zeno, but this is the one he explained to me last night in his dream.

I asked him where he learned about this and he said, “a book”. I’m not sure which book, it’s not a school book. I asked him if he’d like to learn more about it and spoke to me as one would speak to child wearing a dunce cap in the corner of the class. “Mom it’s a paradox that’s been around for thousands of years. It’s never going to be solved or fixed, it’s a paradox.”

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2 responses to “Dreaming of Zeno’s Paradox”

  1. Lorette Lavine says:

    I love it when kids share and then take us completely off guard with their comments…beautiful story.

  2. Lady Isabella says:

    I read this paradox when I was about 10 or 11 and it was my first proof of the concept of infinity.  It just blew my mind, that you could halve something, then halve it again…forever.  Thanks for sharing.

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