Finding half a maggot is worse: Limits have their limits

“Biting into an apple and finding a maggot is unpleasant enough, but finding half a maggot is worse. Discovering one-third of a maggot would be more distressing still: The less you find, the more you might have eaten. Extrapolating to the limit, an encounter with no maggot at all should be the ultimate bad-apple experience. This remorseless logic fails, however, because the limit is singular: A very small maggot fraction is qualitatively different from no maggot….”

So writes Michael Berry in his essay called “Singular Limits“, in the May 2002 issue of Physics Today.


BONUS: The 2000 Ig Nobel Prize for physics was awarded to Andre Geim and Michael Berry for using magnets to levitate a frog. [REFERENCE: “Of Flying Frogs and Levitrons” by M.V. Berry and A.K. Geim, European Journal of Physics, v. 18, 1997, p. 307-13.]

BONUS: Mason Porter’s thoughts on maggot biting.