994: Advent Calendar
An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count or celebrate the days in anticipation of Christmas. They come in a multitude of forms, from a simple paper calendar with flaps covering each of the days, to fabric pockets on a background scene, to painted wooden boxes with cubby holes for small items. Advent calendars typically take the form of a large rectangular card with "windows", of which there are usually 24: one for each day of December leading up to and including Christmas Eve (December 24). Consecutive doors are opened every day leading up to Christmas, beginning on December 1. The calendar windows open to reveal an image, a poem, a portion of a story (such as the story of the Nativity of Jesus), or a small gift, such as a toy or a chocolate item.
This comic, however, depicts an Advent calendar which has a chocolate every time they get halfway to Christmas. This is a joke because of Zeno's paradox, which said "Before a moving object can travel a certain distance, it must travel half that distance. Before it can travel half the distance it must travel 1/4 the distance, etc. This sequence goes on forever. Therefore, it seems that the original distance cannot be travelled, and motion is impossible." This means that eating chocolates at diminishing intervals will make it so Christmas never happens.
The title text says that when you get close to midnight, it gets physically impossible to eat the chocolates fast enough to keep up, but you could get to the one-second-away mark with a chocolate liquefier and feeder tube.
Going from the second to the last of the visible time stamps it goes like this: At 11:57:11.25 PM there is still remaining 00:02:48.75 (2 minutes 48 seconds and 75 hundredth of a second.) Half of this time period will then progress before the next windows time stamp, that is 00:01:24.375 (1 minute and 24.375 s). This will then give the next time stamp by adding to the previous and we get: 11:58:35.625 PM. This has been rounded to 35.63 s in the comic. Similarly the time stamp for the next four windows, whose top are visible below, can be calculated starting from the fact that there is now only 00:01:24.375 left of the day.
- 13: 42.1875 s left, so the time stamp is: 11:59:17.8125
- 14: 21.09375 s left, so the time stamp is: 11:59:39.90625
- 15: 10.546875 s left, so the time stamp is: 11:59:49.453125
- 16: 5.2734375 s left, so the time stamp is: 11:59:54,7265625
It would take three more windows before crossing the 11:59:59 line with less than one second to go. At the 19th window there would only be 0.6591796875 seconds left of the day for a time-stamp of 11:59:59.3408203125. So that would be a window another line further down, even below the green window (no. 15) that is just visible at the button of the panel. And you would have to eat four chocolates in less than five seconds from window no. 16 to fulfill Randall's prediction.
When reaching the 24th window there would be 0.0206 s left, so that is 6 chocolates in 0.638 s. That may be a good place to stop, but of course you could continue at least until reaching the Planck time of 5.39 x 10-44 s. That limit will not be reached before window 162, so there are still 138 chocolates left for those last two hundredths of a second.
- [A portion of an advent calendar shows 12 windows where the date can be seen below. The top row is cut off so you cannot see the very top of the window At the bottom there are four more windows, but only the top part can be seen, and there is no decoration visible. All the other windows have a decoration, although, you cannot see the one on the second window as it is opened more than 90 degree. The first is also opened, but not more than you can see there is a decoration. The 3rd is also open. The rest is still closed.]
- [A green mistletoe on red, partially open.]
- December 23rd
- [A fully open window.]
- December 24th 12:00 AM
- [A red and white Santa hat on green just opened.]
- December 24th Noon
- [Two crossed red and white candy canes on white. From here all windows are closed.]
- December 24th 6:00 PM
- [A red Christmas ball on white.]
- December 24th 9:00 PM
- [A white Christmas star on red.]
- December 24th 10:30 PM
- [A red Christmas heart on gren.]
- December 24th 11:15 PM
- [A red Santa sleigh on white.]
- December 24th 11:37:30 PM
- [A red and white Christmas sock on green.]
- December 24th 11:48:45 PM
- [A green Christmas tree on red.]
- December 24th 11:54:22.5 PM
- [A red and green Christmas wreath on white]
- December 24th 11:57:11.25 PM
- [A red and white Christmas gift on green]
- December 24th 11:58:35.63 PM
- [Below the top of four more windows where only the background colors can be seen red, white, green and then red again.]
- [Caption below the panel:]
- Zeno's Advent Calendar
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