The Little Man and Zeno’s Paradox of Broccoli Eating

This evening at dinner, the Little Man managed to illustrate a mathematical concept I first learned of in 12th grade pre-calculus: Zeno’s Paradox. The Little Man had broccoli on his plate, which he generally enjoys. He consumed all of the crowns of broccoli, save one. For the last one he decided to do something different.

First, he tore the piece of broccoli in half and then, with exaggerated motions, consumed the other half.

Next, he tore the remaining piece of broccoli in half and then, with exaggerated motions, consumed the other half.

Again, he tore the remaining piece of broccoli in half and then, with exaggerated motion, consumed the other half.

This went and and on and if I tried to capture it all, this would be the longest blog post in the history of blog posts. In fact, it would be an infinitely long blog post because as the piece of broccoli grew smaller by half each time, it was never entirely gone, nor would it be. Expressed mathematically, the limit of the size of broccoli approached, but never actually reached, zero.

And for some reason, I found this completely amusing and worthy of a blog post.

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.

2 thoughts on “The Little Man and Zeno’s Paradox of Broccoli Eating”

1. Paul (@princejvstin) says:

He’s your son, all right. 🙂

2. Jason says:

Second time this morning I’ve encountered a mention of Zeno’s Paradox. The other was in Mirror Dance. Now I’m gonna be paradox paranoid for the rest of the day.