I remember when I was a kid, I showed up to school (it was second or third grade) and my friend had this great puzzle that he couldn’t wait to share with me. It was one of those mind puzzles that is designed to trick you into answering one way, when in reality the answer is something completely different. One of those that as soon as you’ve been had, you can’t wait to go and share this with somebody else. Of course, I fell for the “trick,” but I had a sense there was more to it than the seemingly simple answer he gave me. It wasn’t until later I discovered the true answer lied in basic physics.
Sometimes you come across something that appears to be one thing, but then it turns out to be something else entirely. And once you figure out what it really is, you can’t imagine how you thought it was what you used to before you were able to discover the truth. Like if you grab a bottle of what you think is water, and it turns out to be nectar that somebody had prepared to put in the hummingbird feeder, you’ll quickly realize what it is, and you’ll never be able to look at it the same way again.
Once your brain makes the simple connection, that same container that you used to think contained regular water will forever be linked with sugary sticky hummingbird food. So long as whoever is in charge of filling the hummingbird feeder uses the same container, it will be almost impossible to make the same mistake again.
The brain is pretty good at making quick connections like that. Strong responses are usually wired in pretty quickly, while lukewarm or cool responses can quickly be forgotten. Which is why it takes so long to learn boring information to regurgitate on a history test.
Some things, on the other hand, are more difficult to pin down. No matter how hard you try and isolate them in your brain, they just seem kind of fuzzy, and you have to get a good look at them to remember what it was you were thinking of. Some things you kind of have sort of a vague, fuzzy idea of what they are, but unless you are experiencing it directly with one or more senses, it can be tough to remember exactly.
Like that one restaurant you went to that one time with that person you thought might turn into somebody special, and you remarked who good the whatever it was tasted. But as you sit there now, and think about that, can you really remember the color of shoes of your waiter? Can you remember how many glasses of water you drank? Would you be able to list all of the ingredients that went into the particular dish you ate, or how much of it you ate?
Of course, these examples are simple, undisputable facts that you either remember or you don’t. But what about things that don’t have a rigid interpretation? You may remember a movie as being hilarious, but your date may remember it as being crude and offensive. You may remember something as completely delicious and mouth watering, but your date may remember it as horrible or too salty. These memories, of course, are open to the meaning that you give them. And the meaning you give to things is based on a whole slew of personal history and varies elements of your disposition.
But what about things that blur even that line? Certain things need to be defined before they can be described. Is a drum of crude oil good or bad? I suppose it is good if you can imagine all the products that can be made from it. I would probably be bad if you dumped it in your living room.
How many sides does a cube have? The following answers are all correct:
Two – The Inside, and the outside
Six – Top, bottom, front, back, left, right
Twelve – Same as above, but include the inside and the outside
Any answer you give is correct, just as long as you can back it up with a proper definition.
Which brings me back to my friend’s second grade puzzle:
Which side of the record goes the fastest, the side closest to the whole, or the outside? The answer most people give is the outside. But the trick answer is that they both go the same speed, because they are connected.
Of course, both answers are correct. If you are measuring the speed according to angular velocity, then they are both going the same speed. Each goes through 360 degrees in the same time period. However, if you are measuring them according to linear velocity, then the outside is going much faster. The linear velocity of the outside is greater, because the linear distance is a function of the radius. Since it’s further out, it travels faster.
Two definitions, two different answers to describe the same set of circumstances. How many other things can you think of that can be described differently based on how you define the terms?
To find out how to define things best suited for your own personal success, check out what’s behind this: