Sir: Today I bought a 12-pack of beer made in Wilkes-Barre, even though I live in Scranton and some of my neighbors might consider it unpatriotic, but anyway when I got it home I noticed on the side it said “12 16-ounce cans = 16 12-ounce cans.”
Whoa! Symmetry like that has to be more than coincidence, I thought. I mean, what are the odds? I bet it wouldn’t be like that if they were 24-ounce cans.
But I got out my pocket calculator, which was in my pocket, because that’s where I keep it, and I did the math, and you know what? Sixteen 24-ounce cans would be the same amount of beer as twenty-four 16-ounce cans!
Okay, but I also had some of that Irish beer that’s brewed by a German company in Scotland, and it comes in 14.9-ounce cans. Got you there, I said to myself. But no! It turns out that 12 14.9-ounce cans is the same as 14.9 12-ounce cans!
This is just too weird, and the more beer I drank the weirder it seemed. I kept calculating. Did you know that 48.3 13.7-ounce cans is the same as 13.7 48.3-ounce cans? Or that 53.264 27.1438-ounce cans is the same as 27.1438 53.264-ounce cans? It just blows my mind.
So my question is this: Why is there no Nobel Prize in mathematics? Cause I totally deserve it for discovering what I think I’ll call the Commutative Property of Beer.
——Sincerely, Bernie Riemann, Scranton.