Why did no one tell me about this?

You know when you come across something that’s been going on on the internet for years, and you had no idea, even though you’ve been internetising every day for years and years and years, and you feel like you never know about any of the stuff that everybody else seems to know about?  I had one of those moments when I came across this argument on xkcd’s blog:

Imagine a 747 is sitting on a conveyor belt, as wide and long as a runway.  The conveyor belt is designed to exactly match the speed of the wheels, moving in the opposite direction.  Can the plane take off?

I won’t spoil the punchline here, but it’s one of those arguments that apparently has been argued all over the internet for years now, and this is the first I’ve heard of it!

Incidentally, he also links to this question posed by Richard Feynman in his book Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman!  I loved this as I recently loaded the audiobook onto my iPod and will be listening to it soon (as soon as I’m done savouring the anticipation)!

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