1. ## Quantum Twenty Questions

I was reading something by John Wheeler the other day, and in it he makes a reference to a game of Twenty Questions he played that was a little unusual. (I'm actually not certain whether this ever actually happened, or if he was just using it to make a point, but no matter). He was asking one question of each person in the room, and what he found strange was that he'd ask something simple like, "Is it edible?", and the person would think for a while, and then finally say, "No." This went on until he was finally guessing actual objects and the same thing would happen. He'd ask, "Is it a cloud?" The person he asked thinks and thinks, and Wheeler can't figure out how this can be a hard question, and then the person finally says, "Yes", and the whole room breaks up into laughter.

What he discovers is that the other people hadn't actually picked a word when he left the room. Rather, they'd just agreed that anyone Wheeler asked could answer however they chose, provided that they could think of something that would satisfy the answer to the new question, as well as all the answers previously given. So they were having as hard a time as he was in figuring out what the object was. (He was using this as an example of how the properties of quantum particles are in some sense determined only when we actually try to measure the properties, rather than existing beforehand.)

In any case, entirely apart from the point he was making, this sounded amusing, and I thought folks on the BABB might be just silly enough to appreciate the game, modified to suit the forum. So, here are the rules.

1. Anyone can ask any question. All questions (except for the first traditional one) must be answerable with "yes" or "no".

2. Anyone else can answer the question, but the person answering should have something in mind that could in fact satisfy all the questions so far answered, including the current one.

3. If someone thinks that there's no way something could exist which fulfills the requirements, that person can challenge the last person who gave an answer to tell what he or she was envisioning. If that person cannot do so (within, say, a day, to allow for the vagueries of bulletin board communication), the challenger wins that round. However, if the challenged person can do so, he or she wins immediately.

4. If a question stumps everyone (that is, nobody can think of a way to answer it and still imagine something that could fulfill the requirements), the person who asked the question wins the round. Call the time limit for an answer to be posted the same one day. For the entertainment of those playing, the person who gave the last answer should announce whatever he or she was imagining.

5. Similarly, if no one is able to devise a suitable question within a day, the person who gave the last answer may announce the object envisioned, and win the round.

6. Of course, as in traditional twenty questions, someone who guesses the object wins. Since anyone who answers is always free to try to come up with something else that satisfies the criteria so far established (and is encouraged to do so, particularly early in the round!), this method of winning may be tricky. See this message for more discussion.

7. The winner begins the new round. Since the first question is traditionally "Is it animal, vegetable, or mineral?", it probably makes the most sense to begin the round be answering this question, rather than wasting the time to have someone ask it.

So, I'll start things off: the first unknown thing is Vegetable in nature. Anyone want to join me?

[edit to explicitly allow winning by actually guessing the answer and having it accepted]

2. Does it grow on earth?

No.

3. Originally Posted by A Thousand Pardons
Does it grow on earth?

No.
Foul! As you'll note form reading rules 1 and 2, you aren't supposed to answer your own question. But I'm glad to see someone else here, at least. Anyone else care to answer?

4. Originally Posted by Grey
Originally Posted by A Thousand Pardons
Does it grow on earth?

No.
Foul! As you'll note form reading rules 1 and 2, you aren't supposed to answer your own question. But I'm glad to see someone else here, at least. Anyone else care to answer?
I have a feeling ATP did that on purpose. I'm watching, does that count?

5. Yes. It does count.

6. Does it grow on earth? 8-[

I got to know Grey's answer.

7. no

is it tasty?

8. No.

Is it green???

9. yes

have you ever owned one?

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Two things.

First, (grey please clarify this) I think you are either suppose to answer the last question, OR pose a new question, not both (hence rule #5).

Second, I challenge Nicolas on this one. There can't be anything that exists (that we know of) from the clues given.

I might end up eating this one and looking stupid, but that's part of the game.

11. Originally Posted by PyroFreak
I might end up eating this one and looking stupid, but that's part of the game.
Good thing it's tasty. I was thinking of seaweed.

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a veggie that doesn't grow on earth? I don't buy it. (unless you are considering earth as something other than the planet)

13. seaweed is a possibility indeed. It is green and does not grow on earth (but in sea). Mind that "earth" did not have a capital hence does not refer to the planet.

I was thinking of a carrot at first which does not grow on earth but in earth . Then I changed it into a carrot which isn't ripe (?) yet. But now I came to think that young carrots are small and orange, not small and green ops: . Seeweed wins then (I am so fair! ).

ATP: start the next one if you like. (I think the game works with answering+posing, it is included in "anyone can answer and anyone can pose"). If not, please clarify.

14. Originally Posted by PyroFreak
a veggie that doesn't grow on earth? I don't buy it. (unless you are considering earth as something other than the planet)
It could have been spacegrown beans too mind.

15. post deleted because I'm way too slow and three other posters beat me to the same point ops: ops:

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hmmm....I forsee future complications with this game, in that different people have different opinions on word phrasing/meaning (such as ON earth as opposed to IN) yadda yadda so on. Anyways, I won't get hung up on this anymore, just giving a fair warning, and also wanting to know how word for word literal we are gunna get here.

It sounds like a fun game, and I want to participate, but I want a more definite idea of what boundaries there are so that I can call someone out (or answer a question) when it is time.

17. Originally Posted by PyroFreak
hmmm....I forsee future complications with this game, in that different people have different opinions on word phrasing/meaning (such as ON earth as opposed to IN) yadda yadda so on. Anyways, I won't get hung up on this anymore, just giving a fair warning, and also wanting to know how word for word literal we are gunna get here.

It sounds like a fun game, and I want to participate, but I want a more definite idea of what boundaries there are so that I can call someone out (or answer a question) when it is time.
Spacegrown beans still would have been possible with a very normal interpretation of words here. I'm only not sure whether they are tasteful, but I guess earthgrown are better .

I guess the fun in this game is that people aren't taking sentences in their obvious literal meaning, but are creative with words to arrive at funny original solutions (like seaweed, which doesn't grow on earth, but in sea).

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Fair enough, as long as everyone agrees to it - or else we'll probably see some disputes later. From my point of view, none of those answers fit what I understood the criteria to be. But enough with it, Lets start a new one. Where is ATP? Start it up!

19. Is it an animal?

20. (you should start affirmative I think)

yes

21. Is it furry?

22. no

23. Is it A Thousand Pardons?

24. no

is it human?

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no

26. ## Re: Quantum Twenty Questions

Originally Posted by Grey
I was reading something by John Wheeler the other day, and in it he makes a reference to a game of Twenty Questions he played that was a little unusual. (I'm actually not certain whether this ever actually happened, or if he was just using it to make a point, but no matter). He was asking one question of each person in the room, and what he found strange was that he'd ask something simple like, "Is it edible?", and the person would think for a while, and then finally say, "No." This went on until he was finally guessing actual objects and the same thing would happen. He'd ask, "Is it a cloud?" The person he asked thinks and thinks, and Wheeler can't figure out how this can be a hard question, and then the person finally says, "Yes", and the whole room breaks up into laughter.

What he discovers is that the other people hadn't actually picked a word when he left the room. Rather, they'd just agreed that anyone Wheeler asked could answer however they chose, provided that they could think of something that would satisfy the answer to the new question, as well as all the answers previously given. So they were having as hard a time as he was in figuring out what the object was.
I read about that back in 1980's, and used this very trick when I taught a Computer Theory course in 1991. Unfortunately, I do not remember now what exactly I was illustrating with that game (it certainly was not quantum physics!), nor what object did the class eventually came up with.

27. Originally Posted by PyroFreak
Two things.

First, (grey please clarify this) I think you are either suppose to answer the last question, OR pose a new question, not both (hence rule #5).
I had intended it to be one or the other. However, it's technically true that by the rules as given, it would be perfectly legitimate to answer a question and then immediately ask one of your own ("anyone can ask any question"). More importantly, it seems to work fine with answering a question and then following up with one of your own. I'll leave the decision to each individual as to whether to immediately ask a question or to simply answer and let the next person ask one.

Originally Posted by PyroFreak
hmmm....I forsee future complications with this game, in that different people have different opinions on word phrasing/meaning (such as ON earth as opposed to IN) yadda yadda so on. Anyways, I won't get hung up on this anymore, just giving a fair warning, and also wanting to know how word for word literal we are gunna get here.
I'd thought of that as well. I think it means that if you want to pin the answer down carefully, you might have to be precise with your questions.

28. Oh, and is it scaly?

29. Originally Posted by Grey
Second, I challenge Nicolas on this one. There can't be anything that exists (that we know of) from the clues given.
Challenge Nicolas? As near as I can tell, you're saying that there is no existing animal that is not furry, and is not me?

I'm going to have to ruminate on the implications of that.

30. I'm not taking the challenge yet, as their indeed are sooo many examples of non-furry non-human non-ATP animals. The challenge seems to be a misunderstanding. If not, challengeme again please.

"Is it scaly?"

No

Is it loved?

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