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Poll Results

Poll 87: How many Deaths are there?

Total votes: 1345

Infinity plus one: 462 (34.3%)
Gajillions!: 274 (20.4%)
Aleph-aleph-aleph-...: 126 (9.4%)
Aleph-null: 120 (8.9%)
Millions: 84 (6.2%)
A couple dozen maybe?: 74 (5.5%)  
Aleph-one: 74 (5.5%)
Thousands: 64 (4.8%)
A hundred or so: 40 (3.0%)
Aleph-aleph-null: 27 (2.0%)

I had a few interesting e-mails about this. People noted the following:

  • We know there are at least 11 Deaths, since that many assignments have been named and known to be current simultaneously.
  • We know all the Deaths are on strike.
  • We know there are a finite number of Deaths on the picket line.
  • However, we don't know if all the striking Deaths are on the picket line, therefore it's possible that there is only a finite subset of an infinite number of Deaths manning the line.
  • What else do we know about the Deaths? Well, they all have names. The names are composed of strings of alphanumeric characters.
  • We know the Head Death addresses the Deaths by the full name of their assignment.
  • Therefore, if the Head Death is to talk to each Death, he must take a finite amount of time to talk to each one.
  • Therefore, each Death's name must be a finite string, rather than a string like "Death of Ennui While Reciting The Digits Of e = 2.7182818459045..." that never terminates.
  • Therefore there must be at most a countably infinite* number of Deaths, rather than an uncountably infinite number.
  • i.e. There are at most aleph-null Deaths.
* If you don't know what "countably infinite" means, it means that there exists a bijective function mapping the set to the natural numbers. That should clear things up for you.

Unfortunately, it seems that's about the best readers could do for a concrete proof. The number of Deaths is definitely somewhere from 11 to aleph-null. With that sort of precision, you can make a plumber's appointment.

Of course, I'm completely free to disregard this analysis and decide the number based on my own Swiss-cheese continuity and sense of what will get a laugh at the time. :-)


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