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- Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
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- Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:24 pm
- Location: Dartmouth, NS, Canada
Fascinating reading! My idea of a good time waster.
- Vacationer at Tralfamadore
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- Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:57 pm
- Location: Alexandria, Virginia
rstevenson wrote:Um, jus' a minute ... I know I've got an equation for that around here somewhere ... ... ...heehaw wrote:
How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
<<Comparing medieval superstition and modern science, George Bernard Shaw wrote in the introduction to the play Saint Joan that "The medieval doctors of divinity who did not pretend to settle how many angels could dance on the point of a needle cut a very poor figure as far as romantic credulity is concerned beside the modern physicists who have settled to the billionth of a millimetre every movement and position in the dance of the electrons."
In the Annals of Improbable Research, Anders Sandberg has presented a calculation based on theories of information physics and quantum gravity, establishing an upper bound of 8.6766×1049 angels.
The comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal poses an answer derived from physics to this question, i.e. between one and 30 vigintillion  angels.
The comic Dilbert lets the character Dogbert share the final answer. It's six.
In the seventh episode of the fifth season of the science-fiction series Babylon 5, the recurring character Byron Gordon, in a conversation about a rebellion among Human Telepaths against a despotic government, both asked and answered the question with a confident but cryptic: "As many as want to."
In the satirical novel Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, the angel Aziraphale is said to be the only angel who could dance on the head of a pin, as he learned the gavotte in the 19th century.
In his novel Jitterbug Perfume, Tom Robbins suggests: "Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materalists have known all along that it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek".>>