15 Mind Blowing Paradoxes

A paradox is a logically self-contradictory statement or a statement that runs contrary to one’s expectation. It is a statement that, despite apparently valid reasoning from true premises, leads to a seemingly self-contradictory or a logically unacceptable conclusion. A paradox usually involves contradictory-yet-interrelated elements that exist simultaneously and persist over time.

  1. Bentley’s paradox: In a Newtonian universe, gravitation should pull all matter into a single point.
  2. Boltzmann brain: If the universe we observe resulted from a random thermodynamic fluctuation, it would be vastly more likely to be a simple one than the complex one we observe. The simplest case would be just a brain floating in vacuum, having the thoughts and sensations you have.
  3. Fermi paradox: If there are, as various arguments suggest, many other sentient species in the Universe, then where are they? Shouldn’t their presence be obvious?
  4. Pinocchio paradox: What would happen if Pinocchio said “My nose grows now”? If Pinocchio were to say “I am getting sick,” this could be either true or false, but Pinocchio’s sentence “My nose grows now” can be neither true nor false; hence this and only this sentence creates the Pinocchio (liar) paradox.
  5. Heat death paradox: If the universe were infinitely old, it would be in thermodynamic equilibrium, which contradicts what we observe.
  6. Olbers’ paradox: Why is the night sky dark if there is an infinity of stars, covering every part of the celestial sphere?
  7. Bootstrap paradox (also ontological paradox): You send information/an object to your past self, but you only have that information/object because in the past, you received it from your future self. This means the information/object was never created, yet still exists.
  8. Predestination paradox: A man travels back in time to discover the cause of a famous fire. While in the building where the fire started, he accidentally knocks over a kerosene lantern and causes a fire, the same fire that would inspire him, years later, to travel back in time. The bootstrap paradox is closely tied to this, in which, as a result of time travel, information or objects appear to have no beginning.
  9. Schrödinger’s cat paradox: This is a well known paradox. According to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, a cat could be simultaneously alive and dead, as long as it remains unobserved.
  10. Black hole information paradox: Black holes violate a commonly assumed tenet of science that information cannot be destroyed.
  11. Temporal paradox: What happens when a time traveler does things in the past that prevent them from doing them in the first place? 
  12. Grandfather paradox: If one travels back in time and kills their grandfather before he conceives one of their parents, which precludes their own conception and, therefore, they couldn’t go back in time and kill their grandfather. Don’t even think about trying this.
  13. Polchinski’s paradox: A billiard ball can be thrown into a wormhole in such a way that it would emerge in the past and knock its incoming past self away from the wormhole entrance, creating a variant of the grandfather paradox.
  14. Hitler’s murder paradox: One can travel back in time and murder Adolf Hitler before he can instigate World War II and the Holocaust; but if he had never instigated that, then the murder removes any reason for the travel.
  15. Twin paradox: The theory of relativity predicts that a person making a round trip will return younger than his or her identical twin who stayed at home.

Paradoxes are very interesting in their own way which sometimes lead to new ideas and many a time confusion. I hope you found these paradoxes very mind-blowing. Share this with your friends and enjoy the look on their faces!


Categories: Education, Science

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