Back in February, I gave a talk with the above title at the Annual MIT Latke-Hamentaschen Debate. I’m pleased to announce that streaming video of my talk is now available! (My segment starts about 10 minutes into the video, and lasts for 10 minutes.) You can also download my PowerPoint slides here.
Out of hundreds of talks I’ve given in my life, on five continents, this is the single talk of which I’m the proudest.
Of course, before you form an opinion about the issue at hand, you should also check out the contributions of my fellow debaters. On the sadly-mistaken hamentasch side, my favorite presentation was that of mathematician Arthur Mattuck, which starts in at 56 minutes and lasts for a full half hour (!! – the allotted time was only 8 minutes). Mattuck relates the shapes of latkes and hamentaschen to the famous Kakeya problem in measure theory—though strangely, his final conclusions seem to provide no support whatsoever for the hamentaschen, even on Mattuck’s own terms.
Finally, what if you’re a reader for whom the very words “latke” and “hamentaschen” are just as incomprehensible as the title of this blog? OK, here are some Cliff Notes:
- Latkes are fried potato pancakes, traditionally eaten by Jews on Hannukah.
- Hamentaschen are triangular fruit-filled cookies, traditionally eaten by Jews on Purim.
- Beginning at the University of Chicago in 1946, many universities around the world have held farcical annual “debates” between faculty members (both Jewish and non-Jewish) about which of those two foods is better. (The reason I say “farcical” is simply that, as I explain in my talk, the truth has always been overwhelmingly on one side.) The debaters have invoked everything from feminist theory to particle physics to bolster their case.
Thanks very much to Dean of Admissions Stu Schmill for moderating, and to MIT Hillel for organizing the debate.
Update: Luboš has a new blog post announcing that he finally found a chapter in Quantum Computing Since Democritus that he likes! Woohoo! Whether coincidentally or not, the chapter he likes makes exactly the same points about quantum mechanics that I also make in my pro-latke presentation.