Beach Day by Rodger Bliss
April 2024

Pet my Monkey

Originally published on April 10, 2010


I was walking in the city last week when I came across an old fashioned organ grinder. He had a monkey on top of the organ who would dance as the old man rotated the drum. The monkey stared at me as I stopped to look. I then slowly began to walk around the organ, all the time the monkey kept turning and staring at me. When I got back to the point I had started from it was clear that I had walked around the organ, but had I walked around the monkey?


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4 guesses to Pet my Monkey

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  • No you would of walked along side the monkey becouse he kept turning

  • Dude

    Nope, keep guessing, and please give your reasoning.

  • Nanao Ise

    …Yes, I think that you would have walked around the monkey – although, it does seem to be more of a question of semantics, to me.

    The reasoning as to why you walked around the monkey can be that, from an outsider’s point of view, you walked around the monkey. The fact that the monkey was turning with you can be considered irrelevant.

    You have gone around the monkey’s center of gravity, much as how, for instance, the moon orbits the Earth. I think that most people would agree to the point that the moon “goes around” the Earth, despite the Earth making its rotations all the while.

  • Dude

    Great answer and deduction, Nanao Ise.

    Of course you walked around the monkey! The usual argument that you didn’t goes something like: “From the monkey’s perspective, you were always in front of him, so you never went around him.”

    Unfortunately, there are a couple of simple counterarguments:
    1) From an inertial reference frame (the monkey’s isn’t one), you clearly went around the monkey.
    2) The monkey and organ occupy the same point on the ground, so any statement like “I clearly walked around the organ” automatically precludes the possibility that you didn’t also walk around the monkey.
    3) If you draw the path that you followed, it makes a closed curve that is homeomorphic to a circle, and which therefore has an inside and an outside. The monkey is on the inside, so you walked around him.

    Very nicely explained, you are today’s winner.