Jan 1, 2005

In The Name Of Education - Teacher drops his trousers in front of 300 students.

Before reading on, remember that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. The highlight of Professor Burger's April, 1993 talk to more than 300 Williams College students and their parents occurred when he tied his feet together with a stout rope, leaped onto the table, dramatically removed his photo of man with pants downbelt, unzipped his zipper, and dropped his pants. The purple cows (Williams mascots) that were mooing about on his baggy boxer shorts completed an image not soon forgotten in the annals of mathematical talks. The more conservative members of the audience were contemplating a transfer of their sons and daughters to a less progressive school.

But then, at that moment of maximum bewilderment and absolute disbelief, Professor Burger did the seemingly impossible feat of rehabilitating his fast-sinking reputation. He turned his pants inside out without removing the rope attached to his feet and pulled his trousers back to their accustomed position (though inside out). Thus he simultaneously restored his modesty and his credibility by demonstrating the mathematical triumph of reversing his pants without removing the rope that was tying his feet together.

Please attempt to duplicate Professor Burger's amazing feat-in the privacy of your room, of course. You will need a rope or cord about 5 feet long. One end of the rope should be tied snugly around one ankle and the other end tied equally snugly about the other ankle. Now, without removing the rope, try to take your pants off, turn them inside out, and put them back on so that you, the rope, and your pants are all exactly as they were at the start, with the exception of your pants being inside out. While some may find this experiment intriguing, others may find it in poor taste. Everyone will agree, however, that surprising out comes can arise if we are allowed to bend and contort objects and space.

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