Bill and Stacie are delighted when their new baby, Patrick, is born on February 29th, 2008. They think it's good luck to for him to be born on the special day of the leap year. But then they start thinking about when to celebrate his next birthday. After some thought, they decide that they want to celebrate Patrick's next birthday (when he turns 1) exactly 365 days after he was born, just like most people do.
What will be the date of this birthday?
The date of the birthday will be February 28th, 2009.
At first it might seem like his birthday should be March 1st, 2009, since February 29th is the day after February 28th in the leap year, while March 1st is the day after February 28th in non-leap years. But this is the wrong way to think about it.
The right way to think about it is that 365 days after the day before March 1st is always February 28th, regardless of whether it's a leap year or not. So Patrick's birthday will be February 28th.
Last week, the local Primary school was visited by the Government School Inspector who was there to check that teachers were performing well in their respective classes. He was very impressed with one particular teacher. The Inspector noticed that each time the class teacher asked a question, every child in the class put up their hands enthusiastically to answer it. More surprisingly, whilst the teacher chose a different child to answer the questions each time, the answers were always correct.
Why would this be?
The children were instructed to ALL raise their hands whenever a question was asked. It did not matter whether they knew the answer or not. If they did not know the answer, however, they would raise their LEFT hand. If they knew the answer, they would raise their RIGHT hand. The class teacher would choose a different child each time, but always the ones who had their RIGHT hand raised.
Consider the following explanation for why 1=2:
1. Start out Let y = x
2. Multiply through by x xy = x2
3. Subtract y2 from each side xy - y2 = x2 - y2
4. Factor each side y(x-y) = (x+y)(x-y)
5. Divide both sides by (x-y) y = x+y
6. Divide both sides by y y/y = x/y + y/y
7. And so... 1 = x/y + 1
8. Since x=y, x/y = 1 1 = 1 + 1
8. And so... 1 = 2
How is this possible?
Step 5 is invalid, because we are dividing by (x-y), and since x=y, we are thus dividing by 0. This is an invalid mathematical operation (division by 0), and so by not followinng basic mathematical rules, we are able to get strange results like these.