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An example of why dividing by zero can't make sense.

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  • An example of why dividing by zero can't make sense.

    Here's a minor puzzle: for a and b belonging to a field of numbers with well defined multiplication and division, why is the following wrong and what does it have to do with the thread title?




    Some of you might recognize it from High School, but its still a good lesson.

  • #2
    Looks to me like, in the 4th step, you divided through by zero (that is, if a = b, a - b=0. You divided both sides by (a - b). Can't do that.)

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    • #3
      This one's got a lovely bit of obfuscation to it. I dig it.
      "[Mathematics] is the revealer of every genuine truth, for it knows every hidden secret, and bears the key to every subtlety of letters; whoever, then, has the effrontery to pursue physics while neglecting mathematics should know from the start he will never make his entry through the portals of wisdom."
      --Thomas Bradwardine, De Continuo (c. 1325)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Leonhard View Post
        Here's a minor puzzle: for a and b belonging to a field of numbers with well defined multiplication and division, why is the following wrong and what does it have to do with the thread title?




        Some of you might recognize it from High School, but its still a good lesson.
        Like phank said, in that step 4.

        If you divide both sides by (a-b) you get a+b = b.

        It seems as if you can do divisions, right up to that point, then the operation can become a nonsense.
        Last edited by rwatts; 02-08-2015, 11:04 PM.

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        • #5
          Back in the day on talk.origins Zoe Althrop insisted for literally years that X/0 = X for all X because it wasn't taking anything away from X.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by JonF View Post
            Back in the day on talk.origins Zoe Althrop insisted for literally years that X/0 = X for all X because it wasn't taking anything away from X.

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            • #7
              Oh, she was a pip. Much like Dave Hawkins in that she was astoundingly ignorant and bullheaded but somehow incited people to post great refutuations and explanations.

              We did finally convince her that at least in theory isochron dating works the way it is explained at talkorigins.org. But she was an old-earth-young-life creationist.

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