View Full Version : Crazy Things involving Tops...

06-09-2000, 12:40 AM
...You know those spinning toys.
This is something told to me. I think she is full of B/S. She insists it's the truth. This person is intelligent, cynical, etc etc, and is usually pretty factual. Here's what she told me.
Ok, when a top is spinning,if you push it, it turns on a 90 degree angle. So, what happens if a top is pushed at all sides at the exact time? I said I didn't know. She said the top simply disappears. They don't know where it went, or why it went there.
I doubt this very much, but what does everybody else think!?

06-09-2000, 02:00 AM
If a top is "pushed on all sides at once" it _will_ change phase and disappear. The top assumes a two dimensional phase AKA "Flatland" mode. The top is still *there* but because it now has only length and width (not height) cannot be perceived by the 3 dimensional limitations of human vision. Interestingly digital video cameras can see the top insofar as they are recording (on a CCD) and displaying (on an LCD screen) in only two dimensions.

Me and my arrow
Straighter than narrow
Wherever we go, everyone knows
It's me and my arrow

06-09-2000, 02:01 AM
If you push a top on all four “sides” at the same time, you will simply stop the top from spinning (or at least slow it down). As for the top vanishing…??? Huh???… Nope.

06-09-2000, 02:02 AM
Pepper: some times you're too sweet for your own good. Now go to that person, and say (repeat after me): "BULLSHIT"!

Her WAG/BS would invalidate at least 3 of the major known laws of physics.

06-09-2000, 02:05 AM
astro… Huh? Am I missing something? Evidently this top thing is part of a well known theoretical thought experiment I’ve never heard of before. Could you fill us in?

06-09-2000, 02:08 AM
first of all.... what?? if you push a top from one side it bounces of your finger and goes somewhere else, or it stops. second of all, give that there an enourmous number of points in all directions, (possibly infinite number, quantum mechanics still hasn't worked it out), then to push from all directions simutaneously would be utterly impossible.

but, i thought, there may be some value to the theory, so i sat back in my chair and imagined my debt was a spinning top, spinning on my table. then i imagined i pushed, the direct effect of which was to make it do a 90 degree turn, and hence halving my debt. i could have kept doing this, but it would merely mean that my debt would get increasingly smaller and never disappear. so i then imagined that i pushed my debt from all sides at once. and you know what happened? i got my knees broken by a loan shark who i owed money too cos i thought my debt had disappeard.

this story is only slightly more ridiculous than your friends one. put her in an asylum and tell her i'll see her there.

06-09-2000, 02:32 AM
Why... yes! How astute! It _is_ a "theoretical thought experiment" and a devilishly subtle one too!

Meet my wife...Morgan Fairchild!

astro… Huh? Am I missing something? Evidently this top thing is part of a well known theoretical thought experiment I’ve never heard of before. Could you fill us in?

06-09-2000, 02:51 AM
Ok, everybody who has posted so far, thank you for validating my original thought of "bullshit". Just wanted to make sure that some of the most intelligent people on the net agree with me. :)

06-09-2000, 02:53 AM
dool: welcome to the SDMB! :cool:

And come to think of it, I do remember something about some thought experiment like this. BUT IT DOES NOT DO SO IN THE "REAL" WORLD!! It's kinda like those theories about what would happen if you went thru a "worm hole". You might come out the other side of tne universe in a white "hole", but if so, you would only be a stream of plasma.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.