The Magic Box

Davdi Silverrock davdisil at gmail.com
Wed Jan 4 14:23:47 PST 2006

On 1/4/06, Casey Rousseau <casey at the-bat.net> wrote:
> "There is no problem that cannot be solved by the correct application of
> high explosive"
> Well, there are, it's just that the class of problems that fail to meet this
> criteria is very nearly the same as the class of problems which are simply
> insoluble.

I believe that there are definitions of "solve" for which the maxim
quoted is always correct, although they are more usually used by
chemists and such.

(examining the OED, and noting the following:)

[begin cite]

  {dag}1. trans. To loosen; to break. Obs.

  {dag}2.    a. To unbind, untie. Obs.

  5. To dissolve, put an end to, settle.

  6. To dissolve; to melt.

  Hence solved ppl. a.; {sm}solving vbl. n. and ppl. a.

[end cite]

Although captious interpretation of the usages interpretable as
meaning physical destruction might well lead to situations where
students of mathematics being told to "solve for x" results in the
entire school burning down and/or blowing up. Moral: Do not allow
students access to dictionaries and/or volatile chemicals.