The Man Who Annulled Probability

Leonard Steinbeck was a professor of mathematics at MIT. He was really superb, and all his students loved him, even those who hated him. This was because he was surrounded by a hyperspace logic anomaly, but no one knew that except the aliens who placed it there.

One day the physics laboratory was experimenting with dark matter. A young post-graduate made a fatal addition mistake, and the dark matter was turned into orange-with-brown-polka-dots-and-a-green-stripe-between-every-third-dot matter. The lab was destroyed, but the hyperspace shockwave spread throughout the observable universe, into the unobservable universe, and into parts of the universe that can be neither observed nor unobserved.

However, the most important ramification of this hyperspace shockwave was that it reacted with Professor Steinbeck's hyperspace logic anomaly. Due to the illogical nature of Steinbeck's anomaly, the unpredictability of the nature of the shockwave, and the Author's need for some explanation of the following events, the reaction created an entirely new vocally-incited probability annulment anomaly. The improbability of this is probably explainable by a time paradox.

This is now officially science fiction, since, it mentions a time paradox.

But anyway, while all this was going on, Professor Steinbeck was giving an abstract lecture about the possibility of probability of the certainty of the occurrence of extremely improbable events.

"And that is how you calculate, at least roughly, the probability of very bizarre events," he concluded, clapping his hands pleasantly. "Right, now the first person to calculate the probability of me surviving a trampling by a herd of buffalo here in this very room, will receive a wee bit of extra credit."

A hand shot up in the back. "Yes, Roy?"

"What if we calculate the probability that the extra credit will make a difference in our grade greater than the probability itself?"

"If you tell me that, since it is such an extremely improbable occurrence, the probability of such will approach certainty. Then your calculations will become incorrect, and you will receive no credit whatsoever."

There was a giggle, and Ron sat back. He and Professor Steinbeck had a running battle of wits, and the Ph.D. won almost every skirmish. Steinbeck was mentally chalking up another win, when Roy spoke again.

"You said the probability would approach certainty. That indicates at least some uncertainty, and therefore a little bit of possibility that we will retain our extra credit."

"Yes indeed. The uncertainty is approximately equal to the probability of me surviving a trampling by a herd of buffalo here in this very room."

Steinbeck's lecture hall was directly adjoining an open space on the campus, and, as a result, had a set of double doors leading out on that side. The improbability of this is probably explainable by a time paradox, but that is unimportant. What is important is that Steinbeck heard a knock at one of the doors.

"Open that door," he commanded a couple of students sitting nearest the doors. They opened them inward, and a herd of buffalo charged in.

"Great gravy!" cried the Professor. Chaos erupted among the students, most of whom thought it was all some massive joke. Indeed, the only one who knew the truth of the situation's seriousness was the alien disguised as a student for the observation of Steinbeck's hyperspace logic anomaly.

The lecturer had overturned several desks and blackboards during his mad dash to safety, but it was in vain. The buffalo were funneled towards him by the various obstacles in the room, and he was trampled. Students screamed, and some valiant ones tried herding the buffalo out of the hall. Eventually the buffalo exited the way they came in, of their own accord, and they were never seen again. Most likely they were a radioactive by-product of the orange-with-brown-polka-dots-and-a-green-stripe-between-every-third-dot matter vortex recently created in the physics laboratory.

Roy was the first to reach Professor Steinbeck. After examination, however, they found that their teacher was scared out of his wits, but had suffered no injury at all during the stampede.

When the shaken scholar recovered his composure, he said, "I think I may award some extra credit. Even to those who calculate the probability of the extra credit being of any significance." There was chatter all around. "Yes, I think the probability of extra credit is one. No uncertainty." This prompted cheers.

"Why?" asked Roy.

"Because you have witnessed an event of such phenomenal improbability that it will probably go down in history as the most improbable thing that ever has happened."

Needless to say, since, as has been indicated, Professor Steinbeck's verbally-incited probability annulment anomaly had taken effect, he was trampled by another herd of buffalo. This time there was less confusion and more suspicion that it was all a massive hoax.

In fact, it was. None of these things that the Author has related ever happened, or will ever happen. Even in fiction, since they are so blasted improbable.

*Conspicuous handwriting change* I regret to inform you that the Author of the preceding silliness was trampled by a herd of buffalo shortly before the story was finished, even though he was in a room with doors and windows much too small for a buffalo to fit through. Scientists have been unable to explain how this happened. However, most literary critics think they can take a pretty good crack at it.