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Mathematically Impossible

Posted by Smokey Stover on May 10, 2008 at 10:05

In Reply to: Mathematically Impossible posted by Muthusamy on May 09, 2008 at 08:34:

: Please explain the meaning of "Mathematically Impossible" and give examples using some sentences.

"Mathematically impossible" just means impossible, but adds that it is the laws of physics and math that render impossible whatever is being discussed. You might also hear the phrase "scientifically impossible," although perhaps not. It, like "mathematically impossible," is essentially redundant.

They say it is mathematically impossible for bumble-bees to fly. And yet they do. Well, that's no longer what they (the scientists who study bees) say. While the bees haven't learned anything new in thousands of years, scientists have learned how to improve their math and physics (and anatomy) to accommodate the anomaly of a flying bumble-bee.

There are doubtless better examples, but the one above leapt out at me. Another: They told Howard Hughes it was mathematically impossible for his "Spruce Goose" to fly. Yet fly it did, even if only for a few yards and only once.

The world is full of mathematical impossibilities; they are infinite in number. But most of them are never talked about, since they don't actually exist. You can use the phrase ironically, as in: "It's a mathematical impossibility for a teenage girl to unplug her phone." Well, there's no mathematics involved, just psychology. But it sounds to some ears slightly funnier to call it a mathematical impossibility.